Day 40 Saturday 2nd July 2016 99km (3731km in total)
“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” – Susan Sontag
I’m still riding with a broken and couple of lose spokes, though it does seem to be holding up! It has a small wobble, but nothing too noticeable. I’ve decided if possible to wait until I get back to the UK to buy a new wheel. Here, all the bike shops I’ve been to so far only have city or road racing wheels.
I had bought the wheel new specially for this trip from a small local bike shop, who specialise in touring. I told them the distance I was travelling but they still gave me a wheel more designed for city bikes.
Luckily the roads are much smoother here compared to the UK, with bearly any potholes! Actually, most of Europe’s roads seem to better than home. I’m not sure why, the south gets less snow and cold weather which helps but that didn’t stop the roads in Sweden from being pothole free. Italy was the only country with worse roads, so I guess it’s down the the budget.
Two years with some of my family we went cycling around the south of France. Passing though Carcassonne, Narbonne, Sete and Montpellier, with some stretches of the Canal du Midi. Today I seemed to be doing the reverse route of part of the trip.
The canal du Midi is a great and popular route to cycle on. Car free and fairly flat. Some parts have good tarmac paths and are signed. However, sometimes it can just be a small dusty path, meant for walkers. It seems to change quickly between the two. I remember on the family trip, we always found ourselves on the wrong side of the canal. Normally one side is tarmac and the other side is a walkers path. We would see a tarmac cycle path on the other side so would cross over at the next bridge. Suddenly it would stop and return to the side we were previously on. This happened quite a few times! Once we thought we were on the wrong side, so lugged are bikes with panniers up over a stepped bridge only to find we had to cross back over.
Today I didn’t mind any rough paths or dirt tracks as I was in a great mood. It was sunny, I felt fast and I had just recieved news that my sister had got a first for her textile degree, along with a Dunelm award, a recommendation from John Lewis amongst other praises. Meanwhile I was just peddling aimlessly though Europe…
I was aiming to get to Sète today but, with 25km left at 5pm it was looking unlikely. I had tried to take a shortcut along the coast. There is a long stretch where the mainland has crept back backwards, leaving just as small strip of land in the sea. It’s hard to explain, look at a map around Sète and you will see what I mean!
I arrived at Palavas-les-Flots but wasn’t sure whether the path continued along or if I had to go back to the mainland. The map showed a footpath but no road. Last time with my family, we had got to the same point but on seeing the ‘no bikes’ sign gone the longer way. Today however I took the risk and continued along. It was very stony and rough but at least it was a path. I kept looking down at my wheel to check it still had some spokes still intacted! I’m sure it wasn’t doing it any good.
Along the path I could see another cyclist following me. He was on a mountain bike which seemed to glide over the stones. He didn’t reply to my ” Bonjour” and seemed to sprint pass me. It was very open and the wind was blowing very strongly against me so I thought I would follow and tuck in behind him.
He obviously thought I was racing him, and after I saw him puffing and panting, he suddenly decided to stop and look at the sea.
The wind is so strong here along the coast. When I stop peddling, I literally come to an abrupt stop. It’s very slow going, especially when on rough tracks as well.
About five minutes after a short break, the sun was in my eyes, but when I reached for my sunglasses there were nowhere to be seen. I had remembered putting them on the top of my panniers. Retracing my steps is something I never like. When you have to battle against the wind to return makes it even worse!
I decided to stop around 6pm, at a campsite just about 5km out of Sète. I’m always amazed at some of the vehicles people go traveling in. Staying here were a German couple with a ‘camper van’ the size of a big lorry. I’m sure it’s way more trouble than its worth. I’m not even sure how they got it into the campsite! Traveling in my mind is supposed to be about getting away from your world, seeing new places and different cultures. If you bring all your world with you, you will miss out. Saying that, most people don’t cycle around Europe for fun so it not for me to say!