Finishing Lionheart

Posted

The Last Day: Finishing in Fontevraud Abbey

The day’s stats at a glance:

  • distance: 106.5 kms (including a little extension to round out the week)
  • total ascent: 599 metres
The route from Amboise to Fontevraud
The route profile

It would have been possible to go more directly from Amboise to Fontevraud but most of the group opted to visit the historic and pretty town of Chinon, hence the significant deviation you can see in the map above. I’ll talk more about that later.

We left later than we normally would because Francesca had arranged for us to have a sit-down meal at a restaurant on the banks of the Loire River. There was a bit of a briefing focussing on traffic before we left because we would be riding into and out of Tours. Here is a photo of part of our group listening attentively to Francesca’s instructive discourse …

… and a nice selfie that Francesca took with me before we set off …

The plan was to have an easy cruise to Tours, have a look at the significant cathedral there, constructed between 1170 and 1547  …

… and then have a relaxed coffee. Di and I slipped into a somewhat seedy premises as Di had a bit of an “urgence” with an upset stomach. The one notable thing about the place was the medieval building construction showing in one of the walls …

We then caught up with Michael, Louise, Jo, Sharon and Jose and went to a cafe a little further down the road …

Next stop was a trendy little bike shop to have a stickybeak. Consummate Shopper Jo scooped up a new cap and a couple pairs of socks. I enquired about some chain lube and chatted with the proprietor about the joys of Campagnolo (you can like Shimano, but you can only love Campagnolo!).

After frittering away a bit more time than we’d intended we set off for lunch in the small village of Bréhémont a slightly more rapid pace. Here’s a photo I took of the church there …

… before sitting down in our al fresco setting with the others …

Back on the road we saw the most advanced sunflowers we’d passed on the whole trip …

They were swarming with bees, which I tried to capture. Most of them close by flew away when I closed in but you can see a few in this photo …

There was a bit of a climb up to the town of Huismes …

A little further with a bit of gently climbing and descending we arrived at an old goat track that led us to the slightly elevated position of Chinon, which overlooks the Vienne River. It seems that the reasoning for taking the route this way was to show us some old ruins and grottos cut into the cliff face …

… but most of us would have preferred a more moderate entrance to the lovely town of Chinon. Most of us who went that way regrouped for a cold drink at cafe on the edge of the central square. Bruno was waiting for us when we arrived …

… to make sure we had all safely survived the unexpected loose  gravel on a narrow, steep and windy dirt track.

Here’s a photo of Sharon and John taking a breather before heading off again …

I thought John – who is 75 years old – looked fresh as a daisy, but has the heat got the better of Sharon?

Ahead lay a descent out of Chinon, then about 12 kilometres of flat riding along the Vienne before crossing that river to rejoin the Loire. Halfway across the bridge I paused to take this photo of the small town of Candes Saint-Martin …

… where our route turned inland for the short climb up to Fontevraud. However, I rode past the turnoff because I wanted a few more kilometres to round out the week. It had warmed up and a headwind was blowing in my face by the time I got back to Candes Saint-Martin so I paused for an ice cream at a spot overlooking the river (which is actually visible in the previous photo) …

Feeling nicely revived I set off up the hill but stopped again for one last photo along the road …

Finally, I arrived at Fontevraud Abbey. I thought it would be remiss of me not to take a photo of the church so I stopped just a couple hundred metres short of the finish, climbed off my bike, turned off my GPS and recorded the moment …

And so ended the riding. My calculations show that I rode 2 394 kilometres since Di and I (re)joined the tour in Lienz, Austria where Dianne stopped riding last year. There was about 28 760 metres of elevation in that distance, which was very much front-loaded.

Dianne and I would like to thank all those who shared this epic journey with us, and of course our guides Francesca, Bruno, Enrico and Sam. Everyone along for the ride made it a most memorable journey. It just took Dianne and me a year longer than everyone else! (The exceptions are Michael and Louise: we are very pleased they decided to do the last half of the tour after being on the first half last year.)

I’m sitting here in the apartment in Tours that Dianne and I have rented for a week – just a couple of hundred metres or so from the  the south bank of the Loire and less than a kilometre from the Centre Ville. We have had a short stroll a little while ago to search for some groceries and found ourselves in the “quartier anciennes”, or the old quarter of the city. It’s gorgeous and I can see that we are really going to enjoy pottering around the place and exploring the hinterland a bit on our bikes – but at a more moderate level than what the last few weeks have entailed.

And now it’s time to bid this blog and all readers “ADIEU”!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *