France Trip part 4

Thursday 6th July 2006

Carcassonne – reputedly the best preserved medieval walled city in the world. A UNESCO world heritage site. 2006france/DSC_1268.jpg I’m looking around at 7:30 in the morning, before the sun gets too high in the sky – it’s been really hot the last few days, and I wan to get a few miles under me before it gets too hot to ride. The camera takes a couple of photos, before the exposeures start going mad, so I’m on the road again.

The A61 to Toulouse is payage, so instead I decide to take the N113, and I’m riding through fields of sunfllowers. The camera is now completely dead, but I remember my mobile phone, knowing that Ben would be fascinated I snap off a photo of the sunflowers 2006france/DSC00011.jpg. The sun is up, but there’s a lot of mist around, and there’s a wonderful atmosphere to the landscapes shrouded in mist.

I join the motorway to skirt round Toulouse, and spot off to the left an Ariane rocket! My thoughts return to work, as it reminds me of Beagle 2, but I’m on the motorway, past it and into the toll booths on the A62 north to Montauban. The weather is somewhat overcast and every so often we get a light shower – not enough to need the waterproofs yet, but I take the opportunity to stop at a couple of rest areas take a drink, and let the bike cool off at bit as I climb up into the Pyrenees. Later into the morning I meet a group of four or five British bikers who have been down to Nice and they spent a few days on the beach down there, and were on their way back to Dieppe, but their ferry wasn’t due until Monday, so they can take it easy on the way back north. I’ve got to be in Orleans tonight to be in with a chance of catching my train back to the UK on time.

The miles roll past on the A20 through Brive-la-Galliarde, Limoges, Chateauroux, and before I know it I’m in Vierzon and I choose to take the N20 to Orleans – it’s been raining quite heavily for an hour or so now, and I can keep my own pace on the N road. The pace is slow, and at some points I simply have to stop – the rain is so heavy that I can feel it hitting me through the leathers and the waterproofs, and I can only see about twenty to thirty meters in front of me – thank goodness for laybays to be able to stop and let the cars pass me, and take shelter while the lightning strikes within half a mile.
The few miles up the N20 seem to take hours, but the rain finally eases shortly before Orleans, and as I stop to fill up with petrol, and get another litre of oil for the engine, the rain has all but stopped. I keep the waterproofs on for the last few miles, and manage to navigate myself to la Chapelle-St-Mesmin in the west siide of Orleans, and after a little while of randomly wandering around an industrial estate I find my way to the Formule 1. The gentleman on thhe desk is the first member of staff there that speaks passable english, although by now I’m starting to get used to hearing and speaking French.

I peel off my soggy gloves and waterproofs, note the mileage at 63153 – over 500 miles today. My fingers and toes are stained blue from the colouring in the gloves and boots – I really need the shower, and hang everything out to dry, including the map – I wasn’t quick enough with the tank bag cover a couple of times today. I’ve got to plan a route for tomorrow – I still haven’t forgotten my Paris experience, and I want to avoid that at all costs. The chain on the bike is looking a bit ropey, I take the last bit of adjustment up but it’s still lookser than I would have liked – I’ll have to take it gently tomorrow – see about a new chain in the UK.

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