Well, I am ready to go cycling. Friday I returned to Orleans by train, collected the bike and returned to Bonnelles, outside Paris, by train and RER. Getting on and off the train was a bit tricky as the bike had to be manouevred up three carriage steps, into a normal compartment that the seats had been taken out of. However, it was soon evident that I had lots of young men who sprang to my aid so that was very appreciated. Getting on the RER was easy once I had managed the steps in the stations.
Then came my first real ride, of 13km from Saint Rémy lès Chevreuse. This route was marked in green for scenic on my map and it really was. The bike, a Gitane lady's Mississippi, handled beautifully, except for the seat sliding down a bit which I think I have now solved. I have to admit I walked up a few of the hills at the beginning of this ride. I took some quieter roads where I could and passed crops etc, everything I had imagined the countryside would be. Everything they say about French motorists is true: they really do take great care around cyclists. I was given plenty of room, and if there might have been oncoming traffic, the cars waited patiently to pass.
Yesterday I went for a ride of about 35km in the area near my friend's place, which lies right on the edge of the Haute Valle de Chevreuse. Excellent ride, past crops and villages.
The wind has been an issue in the last few days though! A bit windy on the Friday I came here, and you could see threatening storm clouds but I stayed dry. Friday night though it really blew and the ground next morning was carpeted with leaves, twigs and some bigger branches. It looked like the weather had eased a bit but this morning the wind came back. All I can say is that if it is windy tomorrow, I hope it is a tail wind!
I have to admit to being quite nervous about starting and have lost sleep about everything that could possibly go wrong. I think it will take me three days to get to the Loire and will be happier then as I know it will be flat and there are plenty of camping grounds used to cyclists. It will be also good to work out some day trips from one base and travel without baggage! I don't have special light cyclists clothing in my paniers!
Not sure how often I will get to the Internet on the Loire villages and camping grounds, so it might be a while for an update!