By Maggie LaCoste
Most recreational cyclists don’t spend six months getting ready for an overseas biking trip. Other than running and playing tennis, I really don’t do much if any bicycling before a trip, mainly because I won’t bike on our local streets and highways because they are not really that safe for cyclists. So the first few days of bicycling anywhere from 40 to 60 km can be a bit of an adjustment, to say the least!
I love the total sense of accomplishment that you feel when you finally arrive at your destination for the night and know that a nice long shower and dinner await you. You unpack your panniers, water and handlebar bag from your bike and proceed to check into your B & B or hotel. The receptionist hands you your key and offers to show you to your room. You eagerly follow, weighed down by your panniers, happy to know that you are close to the comfort of your room for the night. And then you see the stairs, an almost endless uphill flight. Your legs and knees ache as you climb the stairs, weighed down by your panniers, all the time, cursing the fact that you didn’t travel a bit lighter. Oh, and did I mention that the stairs were barely two feet wide? You gasp for air as the receptionist asks if you are OK, not wanting him or her to think you unfit. Finally you make it to the top of the stairs, you enter your room, and with any luck, you say that the climb was more than worth it.
Stairs may be a temporary enemy of yours when you are bicycling in France, but the payoff is often spectacular views. And they definitely add to the list of funny stories that you remember long after your trip has ended. Here are the stairs from some of our overnight stays this summer on the Loire! Seeing these pictures brings back very fond memories of my days adventuring along the Loire.