Walked down to the main square around 9:30 to meet Colin – he’d left earlier to pick up the cycling club’s van for a ride today.  It took me awhile to get on the way – I just could not find the right key to lock the door. I had to message Colin about my dilemma and he said to just close the door and the gate and come on down – after all the ferocious guard dog was staying at home so no one would dare enter (and Colin had the key).

485D4327-ADA3-4A7E-A128-64A6E523E356There ended up being two groups going out – the very little ones went one way, but we were following the older ones – four boys along with their coach Michele and another adult, an englishman, Paul.

They rode first of all south a bit, to where they were doing an individual time trial.  Colin and I parked about half-way around the course where a side road into a village met the road they were using for the TT.  

F7B84FFC-4A34-448B-9857-74FBB3885906We stood at the corner to warn any cars coming out that there were riders on the road – and we were actually useful.  A small car was coming out just as a rider was about to round the corner – we motioned for them to stop and they did – rider was safe and the folks in the car were perfectly happy at being stopped for him to pass.

66C22926-0E9C-4ADB-8A60-0B058008753EAfter their TT the riders went for a small tour about the area, then back to Mansle.  I walked home while Colin returned the van to the garage.  At around 2:00 we drove over to Michele’s house and met his wife Florence – they are going to stay in Colin’s house in Papiano when they vacation in Italy next month.  We visited for awhile and showed them photos of the house and the village from my ipad and left them the keys.  They have a lovely house with a fairly large yard and garden – very peaceful and beautiful.

B57AF98D-469F-4B7F-B301-CAC0282B3071When we got home we found the Miss Mo-Mo had left a protest ‘business’ on the floor – she had really wanted to come with us!  We walked down to the bar for a glass, followed that up with a walk further to the campground bar, watched a bit of footie, then back to the first bar.  Mo especially likes the first bar as she always gets treats there, but people make a fuss over her no matter where we are.

CB4FFFF3-D118-4AE2-9ECE-B27FD264D88BBack home we had lasagna for dinner, then I face-timed Dominic.  I saw (and heard) both of the kitties – Sly purrs as loud as a motorboat, and Merlin squeaks like a large mouse.  Both are demanding combs and cuddles twice as much from Dominic since I’m not there – miss them all!

Fierce Winds and Fish Guts

Not so hot today, but extremely windy.  I was so cold starting my ride just before 9:00 that I stopped to put on my rain jacket as a wind-breaker.

I had a pretty ambitious route planned, going north/northwest to Ligne, then Charme, then east/southeast to Lonnes.  I was already getting tired as it seemed that no matter which direction I was riding I was facing a fierce head-wind, or at the least a cross-wind.  

D0594A0C-412C-491F-A69C-367815F2A271I took a short-cut down to Fontenille, bypassing Juilie, then decided not to continue east to Bayer and Aunac but headed south instead, meeting the road that goes back to Chateaurenaud, right across the river from St Groux.

02F57C7F-51B6-4BEA-9ACC-82BA992A2C8FI still rode over 30 km – not as far as I’d planned but due to the wind it felt like twice that.  The scenery was, of course, beautiful – pretty villages, fields of sunflowers, barley, corn – the usual.  

D66D453A-FB85-44ED-8640-73B417279400I had volunteered to gut the sardines we’re having for dinner – I used to be a pretty good trout gutter, and I always bought whole kalamari for my greek feasts so the idea didn’t make me squeamish.  There were 14 of the little things – each about 5 or 6 inches long, and I used the same technique Dad had taught me when I was young. Sharp knife under the gill – off with the head, then point of the knife at the end of the belly down near the tail – slice all the way up and scoop out the guts with my fingers.  I also removed the bones as they came out easily attached to the spine.

Neil manned the BBQ once again and we enjoyed a really nice sardine dinner with greek salad, fresh baguette and a fairly decent tzatziki (not my home-made, but tasty none-the-less).66ACC5F4-4585-4433-ACD7-2CC4899643E8

35 km and some footie

Loaded another route into the GPS – got a little frustrated as it doesn’t seem to accept every route I plan in BikeMap.  I eventually got a good route loaded – I’m trying to go out every day in a different direction so I get to see more of the countryside around here, and all of the pretty villages along the way.  I set out just after 9:00 and rode southwest thru Cellettes and Villognon to Amberac where I turned north.

3FAE599D-DA5D-4B55-8DD1-7EC8218A7348Miss GPS got me turned around a couple of times in the villages – the direction to turn isn’t always fast enough so I ride past then have to go back when it beeps that I’m ‘off course’.  Almost the entire time I was riding past barley or corn fields, gently rolling hills, the lovely small villages, the occasional creek or river, and once in awhile a shrine or large cross.

After passing thru Fouqueure I had to go on the main road for a few km – it had just been re-surfaced and was still smelly and throwing up small bits of black stuff as I rode.  I left my planned route very near Luxe, so instead of going up to Ligne I went across on much smaller roads to Villesoubis, where I picked up the route again.

3AD8458A-76E6-47DA-9C29-887E53E25D43From there it was down the hill to Chateaurenaud then across the river to St. Groux, where I once again knew where I was.  A nice ride in the shade (thank goodness – it was near 30 degrees) and on into Mansle. I was gone just about 2 ½ hours, but it did include stopping to take photos, as well as figuring out what Miss GPS was beeping about a couple of times.

B5A325CF-12CE-453F-BCAE-8F3D8DAED03BColin and Mo were just leaving the house when I arrived, so they continued on down to the bar for a coffee while I had a quick shower and did some laundry.  I had just hung my clothes on the line and was getting ready to go down to the bar to meet them when they returned home.

I walked to the store, then came home and had a small greek salad for lunch.  Around 5:00 we went down to the campground bar, where the football match between France and Peru was about to start.  Folks kept arriving to watch the game, and by the time we left the place was pretty much full.  I didn’t really care who won, but I made sure to keep that between Colin and myself – the fans here are pretty serious about their team.

Colin made a delicious pasta bolognese for dinner, then I went to bed earlier than usual, although it took forever to get to sleep – maybe I need to drink more wine (ha ha ha!!).


Ride to St. Front – Startling Animals

Got up a bit earlier than usual so I could go on my ride before it got too hot.  I had loaded a course into my Garmin GPS last night so was all ready to go.

31F34F83-8C41-4E21-8A1C-6818499A71C6It was a longer route than yesterday and headed east first to St. Front, than back west along mostly very small side roads that I never would have chosen myself.

It was very quiet on the back roads – just past St. Front I was overtaken by a group of riders (12 or 15) heading towards Romefort – they were going up the slight hill much more quickly than I was.  Just before Romefort Miss GPS directed me to turn right onto a very narrow road – at one point I passed a man taking his dog for a run – the man was driving his car slowly while the dog jogged beside it (no leash).  The road was so narrow that I stopped riding at the nearby ‘intersection’ where the car turned – the dog, in the meantime, had come over to slobber on my left leg, then went back to his run with the car.

B330C304-7B6A-4027-AE73-780541025231A little further on I rounded a corner and startled two animals at the edge of a field next to the road – I think I was almost as startled as they were, actually.  Thru the trees and from the corner of my eye they looked almost like two of the same animal – one much larger than the other. I realized, however, that although they were both a reddish-brown with big ears and a white tail, one was a large rabbit and the other a small deer.  The rabbit flew forward and then cut onto the track I was on before bounding off across and into the woods on the other side. The deer, meanwhile, had jumped (like a bunny!) across the entire field to the woods on the far side. The barley was up to its chin but it leapt up and over very quickly.

Shortly after that I got onto a road I recognized and was back at the house in Mansle in a touch under 2 hours total – tired and sweaty.  Had a quick, refreshing shower and a cup of tea, followed by a bite to eat, then went with Colin to follow the local cycling club on a ride.

90085918-6F29-43AB-BABF-8480BE357875We drove behind them with the flashers on and Colin honked to warn them whenever a car was passing us.  We carried extra water for the riders, and ended up picking 3 of them up one-by-one as they got too tired.  The ride was around 80 km in all in very hot conditions – I was kind of impressed with the younger fellow that made it the whole way.

Ended up eating the rest of my leftover pasta for dinner – it was too hot to think of cooking.


Market, Charity Shop, Mini-Sausages

56F6DD7F-F1C7-44C1-B778-421D07AADB87Left around 9:30 for the weekly market in Lezay – it was smaller than the huge one we went to last year in Rouillac, but was pretty impressive none-the-less.

8673ABDE-8AE2-489A-9C9E-8015FA287B48There were lots of nice cheeses, meats, etc, as well as a bunch of junk.  Also the live animals and birds – including lots of bunnies, some raised and some wild (poor little things must be terrified).

F9444F0C-F17F-4AB4-AA87-D6AC680FB7DEAfter the market we stopped by the charity shop at St. Soline which raises money for and supports animal shelters, etc.  

9DBD9522-A595-4EAF-B93B-ECAB49DB84EBWe walked around a bit and Colin spent some time in the ‘book shop’ picking out paperbacks and 80’s cd’s.  

We had tea and a sandwich in the cafe, visited the ‘for adoption’ doggies, including a jack russell-cross with a head-cone on, then headed to Ruffec for groceries before going home.

While trying to carry more than I should have downstairs I dropped the laundry soap on the floor and it split open and almost emptied itself.  I never realized before quite how sticky laundry soap is – I must have used half an industrial-sized paper towel roll trying to mop it up, then resorted to a floor mop and water.  

While Colin and I were involved in cleaning up the mess Mo was busy upstairs cleaning up something else – she had gotten into the grocery bag and removed the mini-sausages the Colin had bot for her – she had eaten the entire bag!  

By the time we had cleaned up the laundry soap it was too hot to go for a ride, so I just stayed inside out of the heat and read a book until we walked down to the campground for dinner just before 8:00.  Colin and Neil both got burgers while I chose pasta.

9E4CE530-1B26-457A-8153-697919587266Mo was acting a bit strange – I think digesting all that sausage was very tiring for her and she was pretty lethargic.  She didn’t look quite like a python that swallowed a goat, but she was a bit rounder than normal.

Testing Miss GPS

I created a nice ride route on Bike Maps and downloaded it to the Garmin app on my ipad, which I then sent to my GPS device.  Colin helped me attach the mount on my handlebars, then I was off to see if it actually worked for me.

5A88475D-D766-4482-A29C-8273524ECA27Colin mentioned that it had just started to drizzle, but by the time I was a block away it was just pouring.  I decided to keep going – I had my rain jacket on but was a little concerned about my camera – the case is ‘water resistant’, not ‘waterproof’.  Luckily the hard rain didn’t last long, and it eventually stopped altogether – my camera and everything else in the case were fine.

The GPS seems to work just like the one in Colin’s campervan – it shows how far to the next turn, as well as your current position within a moving 2 km or so map.  It beeps when a turn is coming, and gets very excited when a wrong turn is taken. I ignored this at the very beginning because I had a particular road I decided to follow to get to St. Groux, and after it got over it’s beeping frenzy it reset itself and adjusted to a new route.

D4EBAE77-054D-4882-98B4-666D2F208065I followed the directions and it led me exactly where I’d set it for – east from St. Groux to Bayer, then south thru Puychenin and Fontclaireau before going under the highway and down the long hill back to Mansle.

FB56A729-A9D1-4629-8ECE-C694E3D99737The bar down the road is closed on Mondays so Colin and I walked to the campground bar for a quick drink before dinner.3577A999-8B75-48BD-A1FA-836FA986CF73

Race day in Saint Angeau

Today is the first day I got to be an official photographer of a cycling race, and got to be ‘behind the scenes’ the whole time!!!  Ok – it was a local kids’ race, but it’s a start…

Colin and I headed down the street to the main square just before 10:00 (Mo had to stay at home) so he could help load up the local cycling team’s van, which he is driving today in the race in the nearby town of Saint Angeau.

DE8A0A64-A109-43DB-942A-3F2C315B59C1There were already barriers setup, as well as a covered food/coffee area and a podium, and they were setting up a sound/mike system.  We were called together with the other volunteers just before noon to a small building across the street where we were given lunch – wonderful crispy/soft baguettes with very tasty pate, ham and tabouli, and some of the tartest pickles I’ve ever eaten.  For dessert there was a flan-type thing that I didn’t care to try, and the creamiest, most delicious camembert ever.

As soon as we were finished it was back to work for the rest of the folks, and back to taking photos for me.  The kids were starting to arrive and sign in – as they registered they were given a number to be pinned to the back of their jerseys.

They ranged in age from about 5 years old to 14 or 15, including several girls, and the first races were sprints one-by-one to the line – about 100 metres for the smaller kids, and 150 or so for the older ones.  The road of the village was closed, so the main drag was just for the racers.

8606B32D-3CF9-4C2D-A389-903DD2F2AC77Then the road races were on – Colin was driving the lead-out car and I went with him on the first round, which was the little ones.  They did a warm-up ride halfway around the course, then they lined up for the actual race back to the finish line in front of all of the ‘fans’.  

97A9BD27-B06C-4A5D-AD9B-5C9128B3AFEFThey were so cute! Each of the youngest racers had an older one riding behind them to encourage them and make sure they were ok along the route. And the road wasn’t actually totally closed – they let cars thru from time to time and it was a bit annoying – I felt somewhat ticked-off on behalf of the racers.

After the first race with the little ones I jumped out of the van so I could take photos of the next races as they passed the finish line – the next oldest group did 3 laps, then the next did 5, followed by 8, then the oldest racers did 13 laps.

There were two of the older riders that were far faster than the rest – they lapped many of them at least once, if not twice, and were only a couple of feet apart at the end.

CE330C71-FC9E-43B2-94E7-54A0B107D155 A man that had a couple of kids racing came up to me to ask (in French) if I got a shot or two that I could email to him – I downloaded what I’d already taken to my ipad and he found a couple with one of his sons, then I identified a few more.  He wrote his email address on a scrap of paper for me but I couldn’t read his writing – Colin gave him a business card later so he can get ahold of me. Maybe I should have my own business cards – ‘Sally McKenzie cycling photography’!

After the last race was over the medals were given out – every single racer got one, and the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st placers got trophies as well.

Most of the racers looked like they had a lot of fun, but of course there was the odd parent that was a little too serious – happens in every sport.  Maybe there’s a budding Sagan or Contador in the bunch. One of the littlest girls got a medal a small trophy and some flowers – she held them up and didn’t stop smiling for about 10 minutes.

As soon as everyone started leaving the volunteers began tearing down the barriers, etc, but then we were all called together for a celebratory drink and some snacks.  I told Colin that I thought it was peach juice, but it was definitely spiked.

B4792F2A-8525-4409-AD83-6153464E2A26After the van was loaded we headed back to Mansle, and I sat at the bar while Colin helped unload the van.  It ended up being a fairly long day – starting at 10 and not getting home until around 8, but it was so much fun.  All I needed was an ‘official pass’ slung around my neck – maybe next time!50992D32-E112-473B-A099-0F154574C9DF