Riding off French cheese and meat platters

This would be the first full weekend we’ve had at home since the first week of August.  It’s been a busy summer, or rather, was a busy summer.  Sad that it’s now September.  Friday night we continued our usual “Friday Night Date Night” tradition of heading down to the restaurant supply store to pickup supplies.  And as always, I pick up plenty of other things that are most definitely not on the CupCakery supply list.  This time I found American-style bacon, a new brand of Wisconsin cheddar cheese (really hard to find cheddar in France), and then this totally awesome pre-compiled cheese platter.  It even came with the little wicker basket thing.  Oh, and that’s before I found the other sausages to the right (total cost for all that sausage was 10 euros).


We pretty much just ate cheese, sausage, and fresh baguette for dinner that night.  And in fact, that’s mostly all we’ve been eating since.  Seems like a perfectly functional diet if you ask me.

Saturday we went out for a run up to the Bois (big central-park like park) and looped around it a few times before eventually taking the Velib (bike-share) home.  I lack either pictures or a GPS track from that.  It was just a run, where we simply ran – nothing but our house key and Velib cards (we neglected bringing money for ice cream, big mistake).

Following our run, we noticed our favorite bus in the whole city was parked out front again: The Disco Bus.  Best we can tell there’s actually a couple of these buses.  They drive down the streets at about 5MPH (much to the chagrin of traffic), with a full-on disco and bar inside.


They often stop outside our place and use it as a smoke break stop.  Despite the pounding music (and dancing) inside, the buses are surprisingly sound-proof.  We don’t hear anything, only noticing it if we look out/down the window.


As the disco bus rambled around the city the remainder of the night, I went to sleep ready for my Sunday ride.

I decided to try out Strava’s new “Route Builder” functionality to see how it faired.  I picked a point out in the countryside roughly where I’ve been before and let it do its magic.  Then after selecting a random single point a few miles away to force a circle, I told it to take me home.  All in, the route was listed at 46 miles:


The theory behind the route builder is that it uses other users’ routes that have been ridden to determine the best route out there.  Effectively determining some sort of “popularity” as it describes it.

Knowing most of the roads, the road it selected was pretty good.  A few minor items I’d quibble with as far as being the best overall route for cycling (at a high speed in quiet conditions), but overall quite good.  No highways or anything of the sort.

I started off as usual along the river.  Despite being relatively late (11:30AM), it’s still pretty quiet in Paris.  Paris is not a morning city.  At some absurd time like 8:30AM, it’s dead quiet.


About the only thing impeding my way was this water tanker truck.  Figures I’d find the only drop of falling water onto a roadway for a thousand miles…laid down directly ahead of my front wheel.


This slightly different route out of the city did take me past a Sunday market I hadn’t seen before.  A rather long market too, stretching for a few hundred yards.


From there it was across the Seine for the second, and last time on the outbound.


I’d pass Versailles on the way out, and the wide boulevards leading up to it:


Then it was past what I presume to be an old aqueduct.  In theory there’s also a bike/jogging trail up there, as my pre-mapped routes often tries to route me onto it (thinking I can magically scale up it).


Speaking of which, I had made the minor mistake of forgetting to put back my France maps on my Edge memory card, thus no turn by turn directions this time (the Strava Route Builder outputs a proper file for routing).  Just follow the breadcrumb trails (or, as The Girl says, follow the “cookie crumb trail”).


With roads like this, it’s pretty hard to mess that up:



This time of year the corn is finally ready to pick, and the fields out here are full of it:


These same roads played host to Le Tour back just over a month ago.  And the markings are still quite present on the roads:



My route would alternate between fields like the above, and passing through small towns like the below:



I continue to be amazed by just how many cyclists are out riding around.  Over the course of the ride I probably passed maybe 200-400 cyclists, easily.  Sometimes big groups of 20-30 (as large at 50), but most often just 1-3 cyclists at at a time.  You can see a few up ahead in this photo, and a few more had just passed going the opposite direction.


And even when there’s nobody around, you get roads like this:


Soon my loop was completing, coming back into the town of Versailles.  Everything gets fancy there.


Then about 30 minutes later I crossed over the river and into Paris proper.  From there I rode along the river back towards home.  This section is often great in that it’s a single lane down a lesser used road that’s well protected from cross traffic in all but 2-3 places.


The last street I’d hit up was Boulevard Saint-Germain, the famous people watching and shopping street in Paris.  It’s also an incredibly bike friendly street – if you have a bit of speed.  There are lights every 100-200 meters for what ends up being about 2 miles.  However, they are all synchronized specifically for the buses.  So, if you’re really lucky and don’t get caught up behind something, you can pretty much do the entire length in one light-timed shot.  I had mine split into two pieces, but only had to wait a short bit.


Again, the four units did quite well, with the Vector/Elsa/G3 being closest as usual.  The spread between them was 3%, which is pretty good given they measure in different places (you actually don’t want them to be equal).  Though, in theory the PowerTap should have measured slightly lower than Elsa.  But again, with 2% accuracy on each, you’re talking 4% potential error spread.


Oh, and, following some of my recent flatting issues that I had back in the states I picked up a small pump last week in Hamburg. It was on sale, and I figured for 10 euros I’d give it a shot.  It says it goes to 160psi, though I don’t believe that.  As long as it gets me to about 90 or so I’d be happy.  I still carry CO2 though.


Following my ride we headed out to the farm.  Not our farm of course (we lack such accessories), just a gigantic u-pick farm.



As you may remember, we visited this a few times last fall and it is a favorite of ours for super-cheap but yet still awesome food, especially apples and our personal favorite: Zucchini blossoms.



The farm was pretty busy on Sunday, likely due to being one of the last true weekends of summer.  While they had opened some strawberry and raspberry fields (same goes for Rhubarb, which didn’t quite seem ready yet), we didn’t find much that wasn’t well picked.  Instead we ended up focusing on picking up a small bit of corn for us, and then a ton of zucchini blossoms.  We’ll come back in a few weeks for Apples.  Here’s The Girl in the cornfields:


The Zucchini blossoms are the easiest to pick in that they’re rather plentiful and only a few people bother to pick them.


Once done, we headed home to get everything all setup.  The blossoms we’ll fill up Monday night (here’s what we do with them), and the corn we’ll use throughout the week.



Sunday night for dinner we went with home made risotto by The Girl.  We had dug up two carrots, and then combined that with some of the dried salt-pork from the pile of sausages/sausage-like things we got a few days before:



After a bowl or three…we did nothing more than watch CSI: Miami repeats from Season 1.  I had forgotten just how cheesy/bad Horatio Caine really is…

Have a great weekend (or extended weekend for those of you in the US).  Thanks for reading!


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  1. Efraim Shaw

    If you can get up to to 90 psi with that pump then you are a patient lad.. I’ve got the same thing and have found it to be a pain!!

  2. philippe marc humbert

    I agree. Those mini pumps are pretty useless. Better off just carrying co2.

  3. simon

    I tried the route builder from strava this weekend. I used a GPX as suggested by the strava site – but the edge 800 didn’t give me the option to ‘navigate to start’ when I selected it. So I just found my own way there.

    The first few km of the route were ‘out and back’ and when I tried to start the route the garmin seemed to assume I was on the return journey and kept trying to take me back to the finish…where it did the ‘route finished’ fanfare.

    Tried every combination of ‘recalculate’ / ‘offroad’ routing options but nothing helped. After 30 minutes of messing about I had to ride a few km of the route ‘blindfold’ until the outward route deviated from the return route. Restarting the route then meant it gave “course found” and worked fine until the end.

    Dunno if this was because I picked a GPX instead of TCX – but never get this from GC or bikeroutetoaster routes. So ‘maybe’ something a little odd about strava routes ?

    • TCX was definitely the “correct” choice, unfortunately.

      Try grabbing that instead, which is what the Edge 800/810 would use to do routing upon.

    • simon

      yep – thanks ray.

      wouldn normally pick tcx but strava site says:

      Exporting a Route to GPS Device

      The Garmin Edge 800/810 will accept either TCX or GPX files.

      GPX files are best if you have base maps installed because it will display both a styled map and text-based directions.

      TCX files are best when you don’t have base maps installed.


      should have ignored them

    • Good point, I misread it. Interesting though that yours failed. I wish I had a good explanation as to why. :(

    • simon

      I’ve had the edge for a couple of years and still occasionally suprises me with odd quirks. spent a lot of time swearing at it on sunday morning.

      Garmin forums show others with similar non-navigate to start problem but inconclusive on the reasons…..

      In my view the lack of a “navigate to start” seems to lead to the edge finding the course when you eventually hit it, but is unable to work out if you’re on the outgoing or return leg. Seems to default to assuming you’re on your way back so takes you straight to the end.

      I’ll experiment later to see if it is a gpx/tcx issue although I suspect the true answer is somewhat more complex !

  4. larry brown

    Do you have any problems with car drivers such as yelling at you,cutting you off, etc.Drivers in the states seem to take great pleasure in making our rides like running with the bulls.

    • None at all. It’s funny, here I completely forget about all that until I go back and ride in the states (often). It’s just so nice, everyone gives you room (reasonably), and nobody yells. In over a year here I’ve never had anyone yell, ever. You could cut across three lanes of traffic in the middle of city causing taxi’s to swerve and nobody would honk.

  5. Mr Nofish

    Nice post. Guess I’ll have to open a restaurant too to get yummies for cheap.

    My own experience with (hand) minipumps is they might be technically able to go up to whatever pressure is claimed, but only if you’re strong as a bull. If yours didn’t come with a piece of hose, I’d strongly recommend picking up one, you won’t have to worry about bending or damaging the valve stem, while wrestling with the thing. Decathlon stores carry a rather cheap one that is well made.

  6. Jackson

    For some great Horatio Caine cheese check out this compilation of CSI:Miami opening one liners… link to youtu.be

  7. Ian

    Any chance of a ‘how to take photo’s on a ride’ post? I’d love to try but i’m sure I’d spend most of my time picking myself up after a crash or searching for my camera after it’s gone cartwheeling down the road!

    • Indeed, my advice is pretty limited to: Don’t crash.

      Hmm, actually, my little camera has a wrist strap on it, so that helps. Also, I ALWAYS keep my camera in my right back jersey pocket with nothing else ever in that pocket. Thus I always know where it is.

      Some other oddities I’ll do is that I always ensure it’s turned off after taking the photo. The reason being that my brain will automatically reach into the pocket and press the power button upon grabbing it – so by time it’s in front of me the camera is on.

      Hmm, beyond that – it’s just many years of many photos of practice. Well, that and my unwritten rule to never take photos when cars are passing me (in my direction of travel), nor at intersections/crossings. It never ends well.

    • simon

      inspired by dcrm I’ve just bought a little portable/waterproof pentax to take photos whilst running. I thought it would annoy me having to hold it whilst running but actually don’t notice at all. In fact just got a halfmarathon PB whilst using it.

      holding it in my left hand – lanyard round my wrist. Practiced turning it with my ring finger and using my little finger to press the shutter button. About 75% of the shots were too shakey/blurry to use but I got better thoroughout the run…and memory card space is cheap.

      also tried it on the bike, keeping it in a jersey pocket – same modus operani. Just made sure I didn’t spend time looking at the camera. Was no where near traffic at the time !

      Wouldn’t have been possible with an iphone/phone camera – needs to be a proper compact IMO

  8. Brian

    It’s interesting that you got turn by turn directions on your Strava route, a couple of us using the Edge 500 had no such luck.

  9. BillM

    The combination of a pate or Brie or sainte agur cheese with a proper french baguette ( soft and fluffy on inside but crisp on outside) is something I love to savor with a lovely glass of red wine too. The so called french breads that are available in supermarkets and petrol stations in uk and Ireland are inferior imitations in comparison. As a teenager I cycled the Loire valley for 2 weeks fully loaded with camping gear and pretty much lived off such a diet with the odd fried egg thrown in.

  10. TIm Churchill

    I have that mini pump. Mostly it is used to just inflate the tube ready for Co2 to ensure you dont catch it under the edge of the tyre/tire. It will get you up to around 90 if you are patient though(10 mins patient!!).