Sunday, June 15, 2014

Day 8- Reims to Chalons-en-Champagne- 54km

Having a rest day is a strange feeling! We had a very relaxing afternoon yesterday after our champagne cellar visit, not really doing much at all. While good to have a physical and mental break and recharge the batteries we both couldn't stop that niggling thought in the back of our heads "what am I doing?? I feel so lazy!". So it was with great enthusiasm that we jumped back on our bikes this morning and headed out from Reims back onto the trails!

Last nights picnic dinner in our hotel

The ride started with what was the perfect warm up for legs which had had the day off: a 10km stretch of canal tow path. Flat, straight, no navigation. The first 7kms were fully paved, and particularly popular with the locals who all ride dual suspension mountain bikes! We couldn't help but laugh, as we got to the final 3km of tow path which was off road through bumpy dirt and grass and all the mountain bikes were suddenly gone. Heheh.

Glad to be back on the bikes!


Long, straight and flat

After 10km of the canals we turned off into the hills and the champagne vineyards. Wake up legs!! A few stiff climbs and they were quickly woken. This part of the ride was spectacular as we wound our way between small villages and the vine plots of all the famous champagne houses. We passed through the beautiful towns of Verzenay, Verzy, Villers-Marmery to Trepail. These must be the most spectacularly located villages ever! The first was my favourite, as we climbed to the crest of a hill filled with vines the town of Verzenay came into view suddenly, nestled in a valley with gorgeous architecture and grape vines growing right up the the walls of the houses, and just at the right time rays of sunshine playing out over the scene. It was like something in a movie...too perfect to be true? So gorgeous. We followed the D26 road between these villages. There were very few cars as it is a Sunday and the road is predominantly a tourist route. The climbs between each village gave incredible views which we just soaked up.

Ruinart vines




Enjoying the views

The rest of the day took us back to the canal tow paths plus some off road forrest sections (dry but very bumpy!). We took one more small section of road in which a massive French peloton passed us. I was keen to jump on the back wheel and see how long we could hold but Ben didn't think it was a good idea :D today was a relatively short day, which was done intentionally as tomorrow we have a 100km effort and the hills start VERY soon, so making sure the legs are in top shape. Lots of stretching!


Tow path


I finally got the camera off Ben!


Beautiful day today


We got to pass a barge. They are incredibly slow moving!


Arrival into Chalons-en-Champagne

We arrived at our destination for the day Chalons-en-Champagne a lot earlier than expected! 11:30am! So much so that we thought we had better go for a coffee before checking in as it may be too early for our hotel. Lucky we decided to try our luck anyway! As when we checked in (which was not a problem) the receptionist let us know that the hotel will be closed from midday until 5pm!!! Had we been 30 minutes later (the time for a coffee) we would have been locked out all day! In France Sunday really is a day of rest. All along the way today there were no shops open, and all the hotels in town seem to be closed all afternoon. We are very lucky that we got here so early. It's actually been really good as we got to shower, go for a massive lunch and then take the time to enjoy the tourist sights around town. It's a beautiful town with some really interesting architecture from many different eras. Half timbered houses, gothic and Romanesque churches, an ornate town hall. We've had a great day :)


Lunch- dirty burgers and beer
Town Hall


Notre Dame en Vaux


Interior Notre Dame en Vaux


The beautiful Chalons en Champagne

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