Merced Through the Eyes of a Visitor

The online photo album of a French bicyclist who spent some time in Merced last summer

Francois Hennebert spent a day in Merced to get his bicycle fixed one-day last summer. Photo: http://velo.hennebert.fr/

Francois Hennebert spent a day in Merced to get his bicycle fixed one-day last summer. Photo: http://velo.hennebert.fr/

When Francois Hennebert brought his broken bicycle to a Merced bike shop for repair one-day last summer, no one knew what kind of impression he would have of the area.

Francois crossed into Merced County as part of a twenty-five hundred-mile bike trip from Mexico to Canada.

He’s from France and spends several months each year traveling around the world. He took a plane to Mexico and saw three countries on his incredible bicycle trip.

My photo of Francois from that day in 2018 when he had his bike fixed at Kevin’s Bikes. Photo- Steve Newvine

My photo of Francois from that day in 2018 when he had his bike fixed at Kevin’s Bikes. Photo- Steve Newvine

You may remember my column on Francois from last summer.

Francois’ hearty bicycle had a breakdown shortly after his visit to Yosemite National Park.

He made his way to Kevin’s Bikes on Olive Avenue and G Street in Merced.

That’s where I caught up with him.

This photo of the tow truck that brought Francois to Merced was taken by Francois Hennebert and is featured on his website: [http://velo.hennebert.fr/][0] . The bike is between the car on the flatbed and the truck cab.

This photo of the tow truck that brought Francois to Merced was taken by Francois Hennebert and is featured on his website: [http://velo.hennebert.fr/][0] . The bike is between the car on the flatbed and the truck cab.

During our visit, where neither of us spoke the other’s native language, Francois told me about his worldwide adventures on his bicycle.

He had been on bike trips to China, South America, and New Zealand to name a few places. He gave me his web address and encouraged me to look up his journeys.

This family extended hospitality to Francois during his time in Yosemite. The caption from his website reads “on peut randonner à tout âge.” Translated, the phrase means “you can hike at any age.” Photo: [http://velo.hennebert.fr/][0]

This family extended hospitality to Francois during his time in Yosemite. The caption from his website reads “on peut randonner à tout âge.” Translated, the phrase means “you can hike at any age.” Photo: [http://velo.hennebert.fr/][0]

Our community must have made an impression on Francois.

He posted several photographs from his visit here. I recently checked his website and found pictures from his time in the Central Valley.

Francois’ bike trip happened to fall in the midst of the primary season.

He found signs from the primary election campaigns going on in neighboring Stanislaus County.

Francois used this caption for his photograph of a fence covered with campaign signs: des élections locales auront lieu le 5 juin en Californie . In English, this reads: local elections will be held June 5 in California.

Francois used this caption for his photograph of a fence covered with campaign signs: des élections locales auront lieu le 5 juin en Californie . In English, this reads: local elections will be held June 5 in California.

He seemed impressed by the Castle Air Museum in Atwater. He posted two photos of vintage aircraft from his vantage point of Santa Fe Drive.

The photos have the French caption: l'avion furtif, je pense, et une forteresse volante de la deuxième guerre.

This phrase translates to “the stealthy plane, I think, and a flying fortress from the second war.”

Francois referenced two planes on display at Castle Air Museum in his photo postings on his website. Photo: [http://velo.hennebert.fr/][0]

Francois referenced two planes on display at Castle Air Museum in his photo postings on his website. Photo: [http://velo.hennebert.fr/][0]

Francois referenced two planes on display at Castle Air Museum in his photo postings on his website. Photo: [http://velo.hennebert.fr/][0]

Francois referenced two planes on display at Castle Air Museum in his photo postings on his website. Photo: [http://velo.hennebert.fr/][0]

Prior to his unplanned visit to Merced, Francois had just completed the leg of his journey that took him to the Sonora Pass in Yosemite.

My bicycling friends tell me the Sonora Pass is one of the most difficult biking trips a cyclist can take.

I’m a runner, so I take their word for that assertion.

Just an ordinary bicyclist taking in the vistas throughout California. Francois Hennebert at the Sonora Pass in Yosemite. Photo: [http://velo.hennebert.fr/][0]

Just an ordinary bicyclist taking in the vistas throughout California. Francois Hennebert at the Sonora Pass in Yosemite. Photo: [http://velo.hennebert.fr/][0]

Francois’ journey from Mexico to Canada was a success. He took in the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Silver Falls Park in Oregon, and the Space Needle in Seattle.

He also enjoyed a large section of California.

His unscheduled stop in Merced County showed him a few things he may not have expected like warplanes and political yard signs.

Based on his gratitude expressed on-line for the team at Kevin’s Bikes who got his bike back in sound working condition, and the people who helped transport his bike to Merced, he was impressed by the folks he met here.

His photo caption from the Yosemite portion of his trip perhaps best describes why he would leave his native France for a bicycling adventure that started in Mexico and ended in Canada. It also suggests his overall impression of the area.

His post reads: celui va rester dans ma mémoire .

Translation: that will stay in my memory.

Steve Newvine lives in Merced.

He is indebted to the language translator feature on Google.com. You can read of his adventures traveling by car throughout the Golden State in California Back Roads, available at LuLu.com