August 31, 2014

Joigny to Vézélay

Today's ride started off quietly enough, and actually it was, in the end, all pretty quiet. I left Joigny before 9:00 for the 82k (51 mile) ride to Vézélay. Hoping to arrive early afternoon to visit the basilica and the town, I kept my feet on the pedals. It's Sunday, usually quiet, so I was a bit anxious about finding somewhere open to buy some food. I stopped quickly at a boulangerie, where I bought, and ate at lunch, the most delicious savory bread ever.

After about 20 miles I reached Auxerre, a city of some size, where, predictably, I got turned around. Some might say lost. In any case, I had no idea which direction to turn. This is a historic city, with a sizeable medieval center, which I did indeed want to see. Ever been in a medieval city? In my experience, one of the wonderful things about them is that when you start down a a 700 or more year old street, you don't quite know where you will be on the other end. I rode a few. Then, confused, I pulled out garmin.

What follows is a story. Not Perrault, but nonetheless, it has the good, the bad, not the ugly, and a moral.

The good: My husband Roy gave me a GPS as a present several years ago now, for just this situation. Lost in a city. Regular readers know that I am inept with it, stupid even. But today I discovered something new, and this GPS led me to my route. Success! Excellent! And I must admit, some people who know me have suggested that I have control issues. HMMM. It was v.e.r.y. difficult to give over control and blindly take directions from an inanimate object. But, hurrah!! It worked. Here are a few photos of the streets it led me through:

The bad: Just two short blocks away from the intersection with my planned route, I was riding with the GPS unit tucked into my hand, not looking at it. It was a very congested urban street, cars coming and going, bumper to bumper, a Sunday morning farmers' market open, and shops busy. (In my experience this is unusual here.) As fast as I could yell NON! a car door opened and I ran into it. Or maybe it opened on me. My head hit the car, along with my shoulder. Wrong. My helmet hit the car. I was glad for that.

The man in the car told me a few minutes later that he had no idea what had happened. He didn't look. He was as apologetic and concerned as could be. I was too close and admitted it. He insisted that I wait, sit down for a few minutes, saying he could see I was still rattled. Miraculously, and to my great pride, my French didn't desert me. He went off after a bit at my insistence, and my promises to rest, to buy his bread. He was right to insist that I sit still. Soon enough I realized that my chain was thrown, and that my GPS had disappeared. A woman had seen the accident from her window, came down to offer me something to drink, to make sure I was ok. We searched for the GPS. He returned. We found my GPS in his car. We all three went on our way.

So, no ugly.

The moral: GPS is good backup but it should be attached to the bike. More importantly, and I knew this, on busy urban streets, we cyclists should hold the middle of the lane, even if we sometimes slow traffic down, and not ride in the dangerous area between moving car and parked car.

The rest of the ride to Vézélay, first following the Yonne.

Then through the Morvan, it was beautiful, rolling, country, with some lovely long descents.

I arrived in town in time to visit the famous, and beautiful, basilica, which, in about 1945 a team of monks from the nearby abbey and monastery La Pierre qui Vire helped to bring life back into.