Tag Archives: shelter

Wet? Need shelter? Try the local market square

I have often lamented the lack of shelter for cyclists in England, Scotland and France (the three places in Europe where I have cyclo-toured). Quite simply, there is nowhere to get out of the weather when it turns nasty or even inconveniently wet (unless you can squeeze yourself and your bike into one of those very rare bus shelters).

I find this quite amazing, because winters in these countries are very cold and wet – and I would have thought porches, verandahs and the like would have featured on almost every building.

There is, however, one place where a soggy cyclist may be able to find respite in French towns and that is at the central marketplace. I have found reference to these areas in other rider’s blogs too, so obviously it is not just me who has made this discovery!

Market2

The market area was virtually empty when we first arrived.

Market

Beautiful, ornate steel posts support the large roof area.

This place is big, open and has plenty of room, all under a convenient high roof.

Unless of course, you have arrived at the same time as the local market is in full swing, in which case you will probably just be able to find a corner to hover until everyone departs.

The upside of market day though, is that there will be plenty of fresh fruit to purchase and to enjoy 🙂

We passed many of these markets, but this was one of the few where we actually stopped while en route from Sully-sur-Loire to Checy (just east of Orléans).  I must confess that I did not write down the name of the town at the time, but I am fairly sure it was Jargeau (on the southern bank of the Loire River). According to the sign in the photograph, entry was not permitted on Wednesdays between 12:30 and 8pm and Jargeau has a market each Wednesday afternoon.

The marketplace was deserted when we arrived, but this was not the way it stayed.

Market1

Stall owners start to arrive and set up for the afternoon’s trading. First in, best placed!

Market3

Rails for clothing, umbrellas to hang things. These vendors were well organised.

As we sat and ate our lunch, we watched a hive of activity suddenly erupt as stall owners arrived and prepared to set up their afternoon of trading. By the time we left, the covered area was full, crowds were arriving and vendors were fussing with last minute preparations.

Market4

Metallic lace work shows up against the lighter background. This structure was quite beautiful.

One can buy a fascinating variety of goods at these gatherings. Fruit and vegetables, meat and specialty cheeses all find a place. Fun toys and trinkets keep the children tempted and amused while their parents search clothing racks for elusive bargains. It was a delightful taste of the French culture.

It also seemed a bit of a waste because the weather was clear that day and we had not needed to shelter at all!

Advertisements

My kingdom for a bus shelter!

There is no doubt that cyclo-touring on warm, sunny days is the ultimate way to see a country and to enjoy the sights on offer. But what happens on those days when the weather is less kind, when cold and wet are the order of the day?

English: Bus stop shelter in Wagga Wagga, New ...

English: Bus stop shelter in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The solution, you would imagine, is easy. You still have to ride to reach your destination, but when you stop for rests along the way, you simply find somewhere out of the weather to have a break.

In Australia, awnings or coverings along walkways near shops are commonplace. So common that we take them for granted. Parks have rotundas and shelters over benches, and bus stops frequently have at least a one wall and a roof of some description.

I am not sure why this is. Perhaps it is simply that the country gets quite hot in most places during the summer and people seek out the shade? Whatever the reason, it is generally possible to find shelter somewhere nearby when the weather is inclement or there is a sudden shower of rain.

Not an awning in sight

Not an awning in sight

When riding locally at home, the sensible thing is to simply avoid riding in potentially wet weather (if at all possible). Having said that, I know of people who relish the challenge of riding every day irrespective of the weather and sometimes get very wet when caught in a sudden downpour! They are a tougher breed than me!


However, if you are cyclo-touring and have accommodation booked or are working to a tight schedule for some other reason, you may find yourself having to pull on the wet weather gear and bravely tackle the drizzle or worse – the persistent rain.

Oxford

Oxford – a popular cycling spot, but few covered areas for shelter

Riding in the wet is not all that bad once the body has warmed up and settled into a routine. It can even be fun as it was when we were riding in serious rain for 2 hours near a loch in Scotland. The creeks filled up and small waterfalls abounded all along the roadway – it was an unforgettable experience; something that would have been totally missed in a motor vehicle or when cycling in the dry.

There comes a time, though, when it is necessary to stop for a break. Sensible souls then look around for a shelter of some sort. Sitting in the rain drinking cup of coffee is not a good idea – it gets cold too quickly 😦

If you are cyclo-touring in the UK or France, this is where the fun starts! One could stop under a bridge if there is one available. We did this many times on both of our tours. If it is only light rain, then a tree with a dense canopy will keep you dry for a while – long enough for a cuppa perhaps.

A park bench for a fine day, where to go in the wet?

A park bench for a fine day, but where to go in the wet?

A phone booth will shelter one person, or two if coziness is not a problem! A bus shelter with a roof is a rare find out in the countryside, and they become prized spots for wet fellow cyclists, so one needs to take quick possession when the rain starts! With a bit of strategic organisation, we have found it possible to fit two bikes and two riders into a Scottish bus shelter!

English: Bus shelter At bus stop by junction o...

English: Bus shelter (Photo credit: Wikipedia) [Similar to the one we fitted two loaded bikes and ourselves into in Scotland!]

But sometimes there is just nowhere to stop! Few of the buildings have awnings or verandahs which we found quite perplexing, given that it rains so much in the UK and France. In these situations, the best idea is to just keep riding to stay warm and to resort to the water bottle for refreshment. Stopping means getting soaked and cold. Not good.

Three Swans hotel has a rare shelter facing the street

The lovely Three Swans Hotel has a rare shelter facing the street

Has anyone else experienced this lack of shelters in the UK and France? I wonder if the rest of Europe and/or Ireland have similar issues for cyclists looking for a dry place to stop for a break?