Monday, June 16, 2014

Day 9- Chalons-en-Champagne to Bar sur Aube -104km

Day 9, still in the champagne region but you wouldn't know it by most of today's riding. We left our cosy hotel in Chalons after an interesting night of football celebrations until about midnight, they had setup a large screen in the square about 50m from our room. Luckily the bottle of Bordeaux I consumed helped drain it out :)

We woke to another nice morning, and quickly navigated out of Chalons en Champagne. After reports from another blog we came across that the trail outside of town was bisected by a farmer rerouting the track we stayed on the road all the way until Coole, a quick 27k which we knocked off in just over an hour. Which was great as today was to be our longest yet with around 100k planned.

Glorious morning, best time of the day to be riding
Glorious morning, best time of the day to be riding
Last nights hotel picnic, that's mozzarella and tomato on bread
Ticking off the k's


Before long we arrived to the Roman road, our route for most of the day. To start was almost all gravel, and unfortunately the local farmer had just laid some fresh stuff which made climbing quite hard but descending downright scary on a loaded bike, hit a line of loose stuff and you just had to hope you could hold it upright. We powered along holding some good speed, in some sections you could literally see straight ahead for kilometres on end. Following the roman road we passed through tiny villages to emerge back on the Roman road as the village and new roads simply bisected the old roman road.

Dead straight roads
Voie Romane
Through the open fields
Lots of little climbs

Most days we have many options to stop for pastries and coffee even In some of the smaller towns, today was all agricultural areas and obviously not particularly proposeous, most towns had no signs of a shop or cafe, and if they did it was definately closed, we followed the route eventually finding the end of the gravel roads, arriving on what looked like a modern version of the roman road, a paved D road, which was much faster, but still long and straight.

Some of the tiny villages, this is Rosnay L'Hopital

It wasn't until around 65k in we arrived in Rosnay l'Hopital that we came across a cafe that was open, already 11:30am we were dying for an espresso. So we pulled in and took a break, while enjoying the coffee 2 Dutch pilgrims also stopped, they were walking to Santiago in Spain. We gave them the bad news about the next section being quite a hard stage to walk, we had ticked off 65k in 3hrs but to walk would take a couple of days, with not much option for food or even water.

Lunch stop
Second course, you can see the Chateau on the hill in the distance

Only another 5k down the road we arrived in Brienne le Chateu, obviously named for the giant Chateu on the hill looking over town. Just after 12pm we were keen for lunch but with only 2 options not looking great, thankfully there was a boulangerie and a supermarket. A quiche Lorraine heated up from the boulangerie washed down with a beer at the bar, followed by a sandwich creation for the day including a quarter of a wheel of Brie, half a tomato, slice of ham on a fresh baguette.

Bike car wash in the long grass
At least this section you can see some sort of track

Following lunch we still had another 30k left for the day, thankfully the montonous roman roads were done for the day and we had a mixture of backroads zig zagging through the small villages with a few bush track shortcuts. The offroad track at brienne la vielle seemed to end suddenly based on the GPS route, so instead we jumped back on the road and went around, most likely saving time getting lost in the woods once again.

The final run in was quite scenic as we followed the very quiet backroads, and we started to see some vineyards once again closer to Bar sur Aube.

Stoked to knock that one off

Arriving in town here was hard to know where the centre is, as it has a medical layout with winding streets but no real centre from what we can find. The old wooden buildings are quite impressive, and you can see it was quite wealthy in its day. The declining regional population is obviously having a big affect with signs of many buildings being left to decay and many for sale which is a shame.

Bar sur Aube Main Street
Side streets
Finally got today's pastries, Tart du pomme et Citron

Our hotel Le Saint Nicholas is a bargain being a 3star place for only 72euro, it's a huge room, nice and spacious with a big bathroom as well, perfect for spreading out our stuff all over the place!

We seem to be on a run of decent hotels, we have found the medium to bigger places generally have good storage for the bikes, compared to a cheaper smaller place which generally don't have room or are not interested in having the bikes inside, the other good thing is the reception staff generally speak english, which we have used to book the next accomodation and check if they will take the bikes.

Simple is good sometimes

We had thought to have a nice French meal out in the next few nights, there were a few in town but it has seemed so quiet we didn't want to spend money on something that could be average at best with no atmosphere, we did find a place called Le Montagnard that did a great simple meal of 3 courses which certainly filled a few calories. We might have to save the meal until Bescancon.

So with our longest day so far ticked of with 104k, we are still feeling good, and look forward to climbing up into Switzerland. We have a few shorter days ahead but with the climbing increasing.





















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