Geneva to Marseilles days 5-7, things go south.
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  1. #1
    MB1
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    Geneva to Marseilles days 5-7, things go south.

    For a while now I've been wondering how to write this part of the trip report; on one hand we had a wonderful trip with great folks, on a great boat in what has to be one of the nicest areas in the world to ride.

    On the other hand we didn't have a route or any way to figure out what the route was. To complicate things, the folks that sort of did have the route seemed to be having more problems navigating than we did without a route at all.

    Crazy huh? Let's see if I can explain......

    It all started well after we had paid a substantial non-refundable deposit for the very expensive trip.

    The organizer sent out a letter to folks asking for their opinion on using a Garmin as the navigation tool for the ride. We wrote back and said no but I guess not enough other folks (70 tandem teams on the trip) said no so the organizer told everyone that Garmin it was. He also sent out a list of suggested Garmin models and a recommended supplier.

    Miss M was not happy with the new requirement and I was somewhat bemused but having no choice and never having used a GPS or paying any attention to them at all I called up the recommended supplier, explained our situation and got the Garmin they said was ideal for our trip. We tried it a couple of times, it seemed to work ok so we loaded up the map of Europe and put the thing away until the start of this trip.

    For the first 4 days of the trip riding on our own from Geneva to Tournus we actually found the Garmin to be fairly helpful getting us out of the small towns we occasionally rode through. Otherwise we navigated as we always have, with a map and road signs.

    No problem, we are good to go.
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    Quote Originally Posted by the_dude
    these are better than i was expecting, and my expectations were already rather high.

  2. #2
    MB1
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    Quote Originally Posted by MB1 View Post
    ....No problem, we are good to go.
    Well I am sure you can figure out that no, we weren't good to go.

    On the first night of the trip (after the organizers finally found our lost luggage that they had left at their hotel in Geneva-but that is a whole 'nother story) I took our Garmin to the ride leader to have the routes loaded.

    He took one look at it and said something like, "You've got the wrong thing, we can't get the routes to load in that model."

    I was speechless.

    His two suggestions were to get on-line and order a different model that he could load to (of course that wouldn't get to the boat until the trip was half over) or to follow other teams.

    Miss M was not happy. I was still bemused.

    Miss M and I talked it over and decided that having already pissed away $500 on a Garmin we didn't really want or need we just didn't want to throw good money after bad (not to mention overnight shipping and expensive internet connections).

    So I asked the ride leader what roads they were using to get to whatever towns they planned to visit. Much to my continued bemusement, he couldn't really tell me. The way the route seemed to work was that they were following a pink line in the Garmins and if while riding they moved away from the pink line they were off the route. It had nothing to do with street names, or towns or much of anything, just GPS coordinates.

    Huh?

    This should be interesting.

    So bright and early the first morning of the organized tour we started out following a few of the early starting teams.

    As you might imagine since we had been riding for 4 days and were well over our jet-lag; it wasn't long before we were riding off the front on our own.

    Oh ya, that's gonna work well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by the_dude
    these are better than i was expecting, and my expectations were already rather high.

  3. #3
    MB1
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    So once we couldn't see any other teams we turned around and headed back to the boat.

    It was time to find some good maps.

    Not to mention eat lunch and say the odd prayer or two.
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    Quote Originally Posted by the_dude
    these are better than i was expecting, and my expectations were already rather high.

  4. #4
    MB1
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    That night at dinner we were treated to endless stories by the other teams of how they kept getting lost at almost every turn and intersection. Turns out that the GPSs seem to have an accuracy of plus or minus 50'. The teams would hit an intersection (or worse) or traffic circle at speed and wouldn't know if they had made a wrong or right turn until long after they cleared the intersection.

    The other problem was that they didn't have maps so they had no idea of how the route related to where they were, where they wanted to go or where the boat was.

    Fun times.........

    OTOH it reassured us that we weren't doing so badly since we weren't having any problem knowing where we were or where we wanted to go, we just didn't know if we were following the planned route. Since as far as we could tell there were nothing but great views and quiet roads we stopped being so concerned about the route.

    We just rode.

    So we felt a lot better about what we were doing the next morning when the trip started heading south with some nice climbing thrown in. Sure we knew we weren't always on the exact planned route but at least we didn't have to stop after every intersection or traffic circle and try to figure out if we were following some pink line on a screen.

    We were starting to find some amusement in our situation.

    Well, amused as long as we didn't think about how much money we had spent to be wandering around rural France without a clue.

    And let's face it, we were riding with some really cool folks on wonderful Burgundy roads in great weather on a first class trip while living on a first class ship.
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    Quote Originally Posted by the_dude
    these are better than i was expecting, and my expectations were already rather high.

  5. #5
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    Again that night at dinner we were treated to endless (but new) tales of woe by the other teams who were experiencing a steep learning curve trying to navigate by Garmin.

    I offered to make copies of the maps we were using, no one took me up on the offer but a few folks did head into to town for maps of their own.

    We are up to the third morning of the tour now and it seems some folks weren't riding that day so a couple of them offered to loan us their Garmins with the days route loaded.

    That was really pretty nice of them and we gladly accepted their offer but when we tried to use it we too experienced the steep learning curve and that 50' plus or minus accuracy.

    We decided to stick with the maps and street signs.....plus the days route was shorter than we liked so we struck out on our own for a while before heading back to the boat.

    BTW it was another great day on the road as we started to make the transition from Burgundy to Provence.

    That's it for now, more to follow in a few days.
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    Quote Originally Posted by the_dude
    these are better than i was expecting, and my expectations were already rather high.

  6. #6
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    Toss the Garmin, get a Michelin map

    Just keep a list of the towns and connect the dots to your destination. The roadsign system in France is great. I just write the names of the towns on a strip of adhesive tape and put it on my stem.

    "French road signs indicating distances to upcoming cities / towns are fundamentally different from the same type of sign in the United States. In France, upcoming cities are listed from the farthest (at the top) to the closest (at the bottom); this, of course, is opposite the manner in which Americans are accustomed to seeing distances presented on road signs."

    Diverse Directions Bike Tours: French Road Signs


    As always, gorgeous photos, especially the gelato!

    My hubby and I took a vacation in the Bezier/Montpellier region, we loved it.
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  7. #7
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    Michelin maps are both easier and more informative than a Garmin. I like using a map because it is easier to get an overview of the entire ride than it is on a small screen. Michelin maps have a great deal of information on them other than just the roads -- the chevrons tell you when you will be going uphill and downhill and how hard the grade is (triple chevrons -- ), the exclamation points tell you were scenic overlooks are, etc.

    Even if the Garmin did work, I find it hard to imagine MB1 and Miss M letting a little pink line lead them around by the nose. It's just not their style.
    Last edited by MarkS; 08-18-2011 at 11:13 AM.
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  8. #8
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    Paper maps are way better than a Garmin for actually exploring.

    Want to feel all high-tech without going all GPS?

    Just take a high-res picture of area you will be riding on the paper map with your point-and-shoot. Need the map? Just look and zoom in on the right picture!

    This works only as long as you have battery life left in your camera. Don't ask how I know.
    Biking round the world -- Where have I been with my bike?

  9. #9
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    Great Report. After all these years reading your ride reports I found myself telegraphing two things.
    1) Follow the someone else with a GPS = Drop City. Between all that miles under both your legs and SPACE BIKE to boot, there was no way you all would be following anyone for very long.
    2) When I ultimately scrolled down to a picture of SPACE BIKE, that it would not have the quaint lic. plate with your names hanging off the back.



    Scot
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  10. #10
    KWL
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    When you wrote "go south" I was hoping you meant you were riding away from the North Pole. It appears it was just a 50% play on words. Leave it you to make a bad situation look really good in photos. And this..



    is fantastic!
    Ken
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  11. #11
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    Way to adapt and overcome. Of course I didn't expect anything different from you two! Enjoy the rest of your trip!

  12. #12
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    Nice photos - the riding around Tournon is great... I've spent quite a bit of time down there over the years!

    Oh, and just so you know, Mrs. M is going to get bizanned from heaven for wearing a hat on her head inside a church... just sayin'
    Biking round the world -- Where have I been with my bike?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by philippec View Post
    Oh, and just so you know, Mrs. M is going to get bizanned from heaven for wearing a hat on her head inside a church... just sayin'
    Hats on women in church are OK over here... Of course, that probably doesn't carry much weight in a church over there...

    The yellow jesey on the woman sitting on deck among the tables is from the Lucky Lab Brew Pub here in Portland. Nice to see a neighbor on your ride!

  14. #14
    MB1
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scot_Gore View Post
    ....2) When I ultimately scrolled down to a picture of SPACE BIKE, that it would not have the quaint lic. plate with your names hanging off the back.
    ..
    You know, somehow that just skipped our attention.

    Every morning we would see the thing sitting on the dresser but somehow in all the excitement of getting ready to ride we always forgot to take it up to the deck and install it on the bike.

    Our bad!
    Quote Originally Posted by the_dude
    these are better than i was expecting, and my expectations were already rather high.

  15. #15
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    It's just crazy to put on a bike tour without paper maps. They don't even have to be highly detailed maps. But you have to show me the route, with key landmarks for reference along the way. It's absolutely crazy that they didn't have that. That's not even something I would have thought to ask about, but now I will!

  16. #16
    MB1
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    Quote Originally Posted by mohair_chair View Post
    It's just crazy to put on a bike tour without paper maps...
    Ya think?

    Quote Originally Posted by mohair_chair View Post
    ...They don't even have to be highly detailed maps. But you have to show me the route, with key landmarks for reference along the way....
    No kidding.

    Quote Originally Posted by mohair_chair View Post
    ....It's absolutely crazy that they didn't have that. ....
    You should have heard Miss M on the subject the night we found out.

    Quote Originally Posted by mohair_chair View Post
    .... That's not even something I would have thought to ask about, but now I will!
    Tell me about it.

    "Never again," is all we could say.
    Quote Originally Posted by the_dude
    these are better than i was expecting, and my expectations were already rather high.

  17. #17
    Great White North
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    Definitely a good example of doing it right.

    Thanks for the pics and enjoy the rest of the trip.

    /That's a big boat.

    //That's an arseload of tandems.

    Plum
    This post is in 3B, three beers and it looks good, eh!

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by philippec View Post
    Nice photos - the riding around Tournon is great... I've spent quite a bit of time down there over the years!

    Oh, and just so you know, Mrs. M is going to get bizanned from heaven for wearing a hat on her head inside a church... just sayin'
    Au contraire. Until 1983, the Code of Canon Law required a woman to wear a hat or headcovering in church. When I was in Catholic elementary school, if a girl forgot to bring her plaid beanie that matched her uniform jumper to school, she would have to wear a paper towel on her head when we went to church.
    I try to be perfectly civil, until someone really pisses me off.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by MB1 View Post
    Ya think?



    No kidding.



    You should have heard Miss M on the subject the night we found out.



    Tell me about it.

    "Never again," is all we could say.
    As a long time guide I can say not only do you always have maps I would always take things further. A que sheet for those that need more detail, a copy of the map with route highlighted AND also learned to make small sheet with all towns that we'd got through. It was small enough I could tape on stem or top tube. People have different in needs so you have to bite the bullet with a big group and have some options.

    Judging from your post it doesn't seem like they've been running trips long (if at all).

  20. #20
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    Excellent, excellent photos! And like you, I love wandering around France. But like you, it's always nice to have at least a shred of a clue where you are.
    Mapie is a conventional looking former Hollywood bon viveur, now leading a quiet life in a house made of wood by an isolated beach. He has cultivated a taste for culture, and is a celebrated raconteur amongst his local associates, who are artists, actors, and other leftfield/eccentric types. I imagine he has a telescope, and an unusual sculpture outside his front door. He is also a beach comber. The Rydster.

  21. #21
    MB1
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    Quote Originally Posted by teoteoteo View Post
    ...Judging from your post it doesn't seem like they've been running trips long (if at all).
    You would sure think so but they have been doing this 5+ times a year for 20 or more years. I think they just fell in love with new technology without fully thinking through the implications.
    Quote Originally Posted by the_dude
    these are better than i was expecting, and my expectations were already rather high.

  22. #22
    MB1
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    Quote Originally Posted by Plum View Post
    ..../That's a big boat.

    //That's an arseload of tandems.

    Plum
    Technically speaking I am pretty sure that it is a "boatload" of tandems!
    Quote Originally Posted by the_dude
    these are better than i was expecting, and my expectations were already rather high.

  23. #23
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    Oye como va

    Quote Originally Posted by MB1 View Post
    You would sure think so but they have been doing this 5+ times a year for 20 or more years. I think they just fell in love with new technology without fully thinking through the implications.
    I was going to ask who was running the tour but will just take an educated guess that it was run by some black magic woman. Their trips always look beautiful but the cost per bike mile was always way too high for our taste. From the photos it looks like you had a wonderful trip despite the technology challenges.
    Luck is the intersection of preparation and opportunity.

  24. #24
    MB1
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    Quote Originally Posted by philippec View Post
    ...This works only as long as you have battery life left in your camera. Don't ask how I know.
    LOL, somehow I don't think we need any additional explanation.
    Quote Originally Posted by the_dude
    these are better than i was expecting, and my expectations were already rather high.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keeping up with Junior View Post
    I was going to ask who was running the tour but will just take an educated guess that it was run by some black magic woman. Their trips always look beautiful but the cost per bike mile was always way too high for our taste. From the photos it looks like you had a wonderful trip despite the technology challenges.
    Yup it was a Santana trip, our fourth with them.

    They do go to some fantastic places but tend to cater to a lower milage team than we are but until this trip we had always found it easy enough to add all the additional miles we care to.

    Actually we came away from each of the rides feeling that by far the best part of the trip were the other teams that we met on the tour. Sure out of 70 teams there are going to be some that you can't connect with or relate to but there are going to be far more that you really hit it off with.

    The group tends to be self selecting towards working or retired married couples with grown kids and those that are fairly well off. They are all pretty easy for us to get along with and you don't get any of the single folks coupling and/or drinking and partying that other tours tend to have.

    Santana also puts on some very family friendly "Rallies" that are amazingly popular for folks with younger kids. You will never see so many triplets and quads on the road at the same time.

    We invited several of the folks we met on this trip to look us up in either DC or Florida and hope they do.

    Good stuff.
    Quote Originally Posted by the_dude
    these are better than i was expecting, and my expectations were already rather high.

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