Today’s ride was only 70 kms with only 275 meters of climb, and we had a 3:30 pm checking so there was no need to be on the road early in the morning. It was a good thing to as it poured rain most of the night and this morning there was a little drizzle coming down.
We sat in the breakfast area drinking coffee and watching the drizzle and mist. About 10:00 am we decided that it was time to leave so bags were loaded into the van and Earnie, Ken, Juerg and I jumped on our bikes and headed off. I was a concerned that the rain would have made the unpaved bike path which I planned on taking out of Soissons wet and muddy. Fortunately there was enough packed gravel on the path that it was fine.
It was 40 kms down to Compienge which was where the armistice was signed which ended WW1 and where the French surrender was signed after Germany invaded France in WW2. The Armistice Glade is a large area surrounding the Armistice Memorial and the Armistice Museum. The area was chosen in 1918 as it was quite remote and was away from the prying eyes of the press. The French government did not want any photos taken of the armistice proceedings. The original rail car used to sign the armistice in 1918 was also used to sign the French surrender. The railcar was then transported back to German where it was destroyed in an accidental fire. The original railcar was one of several which were built as dining cars for the French rail service. The museum houses one of the other dining cars which have been reconfigured to identical specification. The museum also contains lots other displays relating to the armistice and the cost of the war in terms of human lives.
Agnes, Betsy and Sally had found a boulangerie and showed up with baguettes and ham so we had a picnic in the parking lot. We had been riding so we were sweaty and while in the museum we were fine but out in the parking lot I was freezing. The temperature was only about 9 C and the mist of the morning had returned. Of course what do you expect for a picnic in October.
The ride from the Armistice Glade down to Ormoy-Villers was a further 30 kms so after picnic so we left about 2:00 Pm to make the ride down to our Airbnb. The ride through the Armistice Gland was interesting as there were lots of sign posts to various walks through the park. A couple of hills, a few lefts and a few rights and we were there.
The big War Memorials tour wraps up in the Airbnb. The only thing is to pack bikes, and fly home.
The final statistics on the tour as compiled by Ken are: Miles ridden 2267.2 kms, total climb of 13,710 meters, wheel turning time of 104.4 hours, giving us an average speed of 21.7 kms/hr.
Looking back I am really impressed with how much attention is put into the maintenance of all of these hundreds of memorials, and cemeteries for the past 100 years. Rolling into a tiny village and looking at a beautifully maintained memorial with 30-40 names of which there are several sets of identical sur names which were probably brothers or father-sons gives you a tiny insight into the sacrifice these people made.
Terry hot biker