Parthenay, France - April 29, 2012
Just checking in from Parthenay, France. Where? I don't know. Some town I stopped in when I decided that I had better stop. It had an old church... but then they all have old churches. But this one is covered with green lichen. Oh. Besides, I had to check out the bike. Had been riding in the rain all day, mostly on the 4-lane. Very gusty winds. Just a grunt of a work day really. You know, the kind of day most people have. Anyway, I had gotten off the main road and onto a 2-lane headed for Bordeaux, still about three hours away when I entered the umpteenth wet traffic circle of the week. Nothing special. Got about half-way around and wham! The front wheel slid out and the next thing I knew, I was sliding on my butt watching the bike skidding and spinning on its left side ahead of me. I have absolutely no idea what happened. Too wet, too slick, too fast, too much lean, too windy... all of the above. Anyway, I was just lucky that I was alone in the circle. So when the world stopped spinning, I jumped up, killed the ignition and shut off the fuel valves. By then, some young guy had come up behind me and stopped to make sure I was OK. I was fine. He helped me get the bike up and pushed off to the side. He was very nice, making sure again that I was OK and that the bike was ridable. So I just took a few minutes and checked out everything... the headlight wasn't on... something must have breathed on it... but I fiddled and got that on again and everything seemed OK. Drove on a few kilometers to a good spot along the road and readjusted a few things.
Backstreets of Parthenay, France
The left mirror needed a little work, but luckily wasn't broken - I have a spare :). And the left clutch lever - I have a spare :) had shifted and needed adjusting. The brunt of the fall was taken by the nylon baggage strap - I have a spare :) and the left valve cover - I don't have a spare :( It's almost worn through on the lower rear. That's not good as that's what keeps the oil in the engine, but at least the cover is symmetrical and I can turn it 180 degrees, putting the worn side on the top. I'm sure if I need, I can get someone to aluminum weld some more metal on there too. The material that is missing has left a nice shiny line on the road about 20 miles back.
So with the rain still coming down, I decided to stop here instead of going on to Bordeaux. I don't know if I am driving into it or out of it, but the sun is somewhere I'm not... although it is breaking up nicely as I write. Too late.
Anyway... decided to stay another day (yesterday) in Ceaux so that I could go to Mont Saint Michel unencumbered with my stuff. As so happened, I was there on the very first day of their new entry system. Starting yesterday, you can't drive out on the causeway anymore, you have to park in a large lot on the mainland and take a shuttle. Well, that's OK... but the parking area is literally about a mile from the first shuttle stop. You have to walk along two sides of someone's farm to get there. Why the shuttles don't come out to the parking area (there are roads) like they do in every long-term parking area at an airport, or like they do at Disneyland is beyond me. And there are hotels on the Mont. I saw elderly tourists dragging their bags to god knows where. It is really a crazy system. But I guess it is all part of a plan to reflood the area and a return it to a marine environment after centuries of silting up. They're building a dam and a bridge to the Mont. Will be done by 2025? Ha!
Mont St. Michel
Anyway... the place was worth the trip, once you get past the souvenir shops with all the swords and other middle-ages paraphernalia (for the knight in your life), The abbey starts farther up after a long, steep walk. I happened to stumble upon an English tour just as it was starting, so got the beans on the architecture and history. A composite of buildings slapped one upon another (literally) and so a real mix of styles. Guess it returned to being an active abbey in 1965, but you would never know it. Most of the public places are empty and even though they were conducting a Mass when I was there, the church was very stripped. But maybe austerity is what it's all about. I hope the current devout get heat in their cells though. Geez it was cold there. And I had goofed up and not put on my long undies. I did find a nice little creperie however, (through the souvenir shop, up the steps) and had a nice lunch and a hot $5 coffee that I promptly spilled into my nice vegetarian crepe. I was OK with that as at least it was warm. And besides, it was the last meal of the day.
Inside the Abbey
So 90% chance of rain tomorrow means another day of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride on the highway. Woohoo! Sliding in the traffic circle today reminded me of Alice's spinning teacup ride at Disneyland. Cheaper, and without the lineup... but more adrenaline producing.
Time to Head Out for Dinner