We began the day with a slight sat nav fart that needlessly took us up a massive hill to the medieval city of Carcassonne, around it briefly, then back down the hill again. It was fairly pointless but got our legs warmed up pretty quickly.
One thing I’ve loved about France is all the little independent fruit and veg stalls dotted about the place. They aren’t always cheap but the fruit is local and so, so fresh. We particularly enjoyed the marketing ploy for this one with giant pictures of fruit on sticks lining the road. Genius.
We cycled for three and a half hours covering just over 40 miles on fairly flat roads but with a major headwind that gave Nev the grumps. He cheered up a bit though when we stopped at this little village to eat lunch by some giant pineapples.
At the campsite in Capestang, we had to sit and wait a while outside reception for the (also grumpy) owner to arrive. That’s where we met a new camping fweend called Lee, a Scottish/Dutch self-proclaimed hippy who was mid-way through a bike ride from Eindhoven in Holland to Mallaga. He’d been cycling without a rest day for 17 days. We spent that evening with him drinking green tea, staring at maps, chatting about cycling and plotting and scheming.
The next day, inspired by Lee’s amazing progress, we set off on an ambitious 70 mile cycle to the south coast. And what a day it turned out to be!
It was a day of all terrain cycling. We started out on the road, then headed back to the canal…
We cycled on tarmacked tow paths and gravel tow paths…
We joined the EV8 route at one point completely by accident and passed an incredibly busy touristy section (where, you may notice, one woman was cycling wearing a swimming costume, for some reason)…
We even did some off-roading…
At this bridge/lock affair with our bikes covered in mud, we had to heave them over a railing which is (particularly in the case of Nev’s bike) a two-man task. Luckily, a kind French man stopped and helped us, but we were both covered in dirt from then onwards.
We had to stop so Nev could fix a dodgy link in my chain and then got back on the main roads again.
We arrived at the coast just before lunch time and Nev was the first to spot the sea. The dedicated cycle road then followed the coast all the way to Montpellier.
At one point, the route followed the canal, with the sea on one side, the canal on the other and just a thin cycle lane in-between the two. Very pretty indeed!
Shortly after that, our path was blocked by a massive barrier saying the route was closed for road works. We thought we’d risk it for a biscuit and carried on anyway on the unfinished surface, passing digger trucks along the way and subtly sneaking through the barrier at the other side.
After 71 miles, we stopped at a shop for a massive watermelon which Nev, brave soldier, carried on his bike for what we thought would be another few miles, but then … disaster struck! When we arrived at the campsite, it was full. So too were the next six campsites we tried, all except one which was 39EUROS for the night and we drew the line at that sort of expense! Tired and hungry, we decided to stop to formulate a plan. We ate the entire watermelon then went to the park to cook tea (chicken soup with added fresh veg and potatoes).
After all that brain food, our master plan was: wild camping for the night. We found a nice hidden spot, even though we were just outside a city and waited for the sun to set.
Then we found an even nicer hidden spot and pitched our tent in the sand with only 5 pegs. It turned out to be the quietest and best night’s sleep we’d had yet! And it was free! Happy campers!