Bicycling the Loire: The Challenge of the Unknown

By Maggie LaCoste

Even the best-planned bicycling trip is certain to have unknown challenges that test your mental and physical resolve. Thursday was that day for me. I wanted to try out the new trail along the Indre River from Azay le Rideau to Chenonceaux, the Indre a Velo.

Signs along the Indre a Velo route

Follow the Indre a Velo signs

I’ve biked along many river trails and I assumed that Thursday’s trail would be flat and peaceful. Well, it was peaceful and very well-marked, but flat it was not. The trail is about 50% flat, the balance, hills going up and down, into and out of towns. Unfortunately I planned our mileage for a flat route. Mistake #1.

The first few days of our trip the weather had been quite cool and I assumed that it would be about the same temperature. Mistake #2. Thursday ended up being one of the hottest days of the summer, well over 90 degrees. Finally there was the issue of food. We always pack a picnic lunch for our rides. But since Thursday was going to be a long ride, I suggested that we stop for a nice lunch along the way. Mistake #3. We did not pass even one bistro, cafe or restaurant that was open for over 30km! Luckily my husband had bought a dried sausage at the daily market for emergencies. By mid-afternoon, we had a real emergency, and the sausage saved the day.   Despite the challenges of the day, we arrived in Chenonceaux a bit tired, sore, hungry and once again a bit wiser about route planning and food and water supplies. Despite the issues of the day, I was very proud that I had completed the ride.  My husband, on the other hand, was very happy that it was me and not him who planned the day’s route!  And the best part was that we were in one of the loveliest towns in the Loire Valley.  The tiny town of Chenonceaux and its castle, and our hotel, La Rosarie were definitely highlights of our trip.

Front entrance to La Rosarie

The pathway to Chenonceau castle

Reflecting back on the day,  I smiled thinking about the great adventure I had that day. And I remembered that every adventure presents us with unknowns to tackle. That is what makes adventure.  I fell asleep wondering what adventure would lie ahead the next day, but very happy to have had a very special Slow Travel Adventure  on that day!

Posted by Maggie LaCoste

I love the adventure and unpredictability of experiencing France by bike. Cycling in France is the ultimate slow travel adventure, an opportunity to see it through the back door in a way few tourists experience. One week on a bike in France and life takes on a different meaning! I created Experience France By Bike to inspire recreational cyclists to visit France the slow bike, and to be the best source of information for planning the perfect bicycling adventure. I encourage readers to embrace the uncertainty of the road ahead and to take the path less traveled, exploring roads, towns and villages that you would never experience traveling by car.