At 7:30 I enjoyed breakfast at the elegant Le Vieux Logis hotel where the group is staying. At 8:30 we met in the parking lot where the group leaders gave a preview route for the day and the options available. Everyone took the same (31.7 km) route first. At 11:30 am we were given a tour of the Grote de Rouffignac.
The group is quite large, eleven couples, one mother and her adult daughter, and me. Everyone, especially the group leaders, are pleasant, friendly, and have a great sense of humor. All seem determined to have a good time. My obvious old age elicited interest, curiosity, and some questions. Some learned my story second hand but after the first day of riding, seeing that I could keep up, and stay upright, I received more attention. They even laugh at my bad jokes. Today after lunch I rode for an additional 32.9 km, a total of 64.6 km for the day. I opted out of the 16.9 km extra route and took the van back to the hotel, along with several others. Only the young, fit, serious bikers rode the optional route.
The leaders urge us not to all ride together. We are to stop whenever we see something we find interesting, take photos, keep hydrated, and have fun. They set up a rest stop about every ten to twelve miles with a wide variety of drinks and snacks. Our mid-morning stop today was at a restaurant for coffee. Beer and wine were available for those who wanted it.
The Grote de Rouffignac has cave paintings estimated to be over 13,000 years old. We rode a rail car for our guided tour of a part of the cave system. Experts date the paintings by subject matter, skill of the artist(s), and the materials used. The paintings we saw are well preserved and not in danger of being lost, unlike more famous cave paintings in other locations where the government has initiated strict preservation measures.
After the tour of the cave, we rode our bikes back up a fifteen percent grade. With the indispensable help of my electric assist-bike I made it. My previous experience, on two other trips with this company, taught me to get into a low gear while the assist mechanism is either off or at a low setting. When you switch to the boost from the assist getting to the top is a breeze.
A picnic lunch was prepared by Max, another group leader, using fresh local ingredients. There was a huge selection of cheeses, smoked fish, breads, and several different salads. One of the salads was made with lentils, mint, lemon and some fresh herbs and spices I was unable to identify. It was outstanding. The “chef” was obviously proud of the result of his efforts and blushed from my praise. Along with all the usual drinks there was beer and some local white and rose wines. I allowed myself to be enticed to a half of a small paper cup of the rose. It very pleasant and went down easily.
That night our dinner was to be prepared by the chef of the resort where we are staying. He has a Michelin star, so I anticipated something special.