Monday, June 01, 2009

Pictures from my first bike tour in Europe

Tour of Languedoc-Roussillon (Southern France) 1998

In 1998, Paul DuBois and I joined a retired history Professor, his wife, and two other cyclists for a tour of Languedoc-Roussillon, in Southern France. That was my first bike tour in continental Europe proper, and I thought it was a good idea to travel with someone who knew the area, and knew the language was a good idea. In particular, I thought it would be interesting for someone versed in history to tell me all about the area.

The professor had a lot to teach me, but none of it was about history. He found routes by using a Michelin map, but didn't do a great job of research, so we had several days of riding straight into a headwind, which was no fun at all. He found restaurants by using the Michelin guide, which was OK, but I've since learned that it was't necessary to even use one. His wife drove SAG and went ahead and got us hotel rooms every day, which was very nice, but it added quite a bit to the costs, though a side benefit was I got to borrow the car every so often to run out with my tripod and shoot cityscapes at dawn or at night.

Ultimately, though, what I really learned was that having someone else pick your itinerary for you is nasty, unless you really like doing what they like doing. We traveled through lots of historical places, but without the kind of context he had, I couldn't appreciate it. At least the cycling was very nice, but I had great days when I broke away from my group and met up with other random tourists who would introduce me to folks and we'd have conversations, short and shallow as they were, since my French was (and still is) no good.

Back then, I traveled with an EOS Elan IIe with a 28mm and a 50mm lens, and Fuji Sensia 100. Those pictures don't scan too badly, and having a tripod meant that despite being a better photographer now, there are many pictures I wouldn't be able to get today since I've given up traveling with a tripod for my light and fast tours.

One friend of mine mentioned that the best slides in this collection were the images of people. Looking back at it now, I have to agree. Enjoy!
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