Up at 6 a.m. Suited and booted and ready for the off, should really get in the habit of looking at the old Gal first tho`, I looked and could see that the tyres needed air.. Now the back one is a new one manufactured by the Peoples republic of China, as was the tube. The tyre itself is puncture resistant so does cost a little more than a normal one. Bought both items, Oh.. let`s see, 3 – 4 days ago, 19 Euros. Now couldn`t get the valve to operate properly. Pumped the air into the tube and the back pressure then put the air back into the pump.. Oh such fun, you should have been there.!
On the road by 0900, back into Bourg st Andeol, pattisserie and other shops, took some pictures. Do you know I could have so easily sat alongside all the old fellas in the outside coffee shops, Didn`t have an easy run today.. Still on the D86 which then became the N, something or the other, oops! bad memories there, but no, it did not suddenly become a motorway. - Pont Esprit, veered eastwood to Mondragon on the D44, N7 again this was not a motorway to Orange and it`s Arc de Triumph... Now this something is it not, It`s a version, albeit much smaller than the one in Paris.. Hey I missed Paris, perhaps I should not have?... I could have compared that with this.. This one in Orange, looks so alone, so right out of town.. and it`s smaller.. However it is compelling.. It rivets you, It`s celebrating something that took place 2000 years ago... Victories.. Of those over them... and it`s still there.. worn, slightly jaded, but my word still stunning... and so, so neglected.. Starbucks slipped up there …Oh for heavens sake! Did I say that ! (look at the photo`s).. Spot of lunch, sardines, olives, bread and cheese... This cheese, I must stop.... but it`s so so lovely!
Onwards to Courthezon, Bedarrides to finally, Sorgues – It was the sign for a Campsite, you have to develop an instinct for them. It`s still regarded as being too early in the Season for many.. So right now its a little cheaper.. Or they are just not open.. So instinct is a good tool. They omit a lot of the time to say exactly how far away they might be.. A nuisance when you are at the end of a hard day in the saddle so to speak to then find you have another 10k to go... doable, but who`s to say next time that it won`t be further.... Great in a car, a little more difficult on a bike.
Campsites these days are all about vehicles and their needs.. The size of them, what`s in them, what they can do with them, How much they can charge for them, what they are dragging around with them, on trailers, or what can be strapped to the back of these wonderful great Leviathans ..
I probably looked like a backwoods boy, you know, mouth hanging open as people disembarked from these ships of the road and were then deployed to their various tasks in the ``setting up of camp`` it`s almost a military operation. Can also be very funny...Now the man with the remote controlled caravan, under the directions being given by his wife, is trying first one position, and then another...I`m sorry, pay attention at the back. I`m not talking about the Kamasutra. I`m talking about positioning the caravan in the best possible place, to take advantage of all the amenities that are on offer. In my experience husbands and wives rarely agree on this..One always has to defer to the other. It is more amusing when dogs, or ducks, or small children are involved...I don`t think I will ever want to forget the memory I have of large posh caravan trundling around, sometimes in the undergrowth, apparently under its own steam..Bushes being squashed, dogs being rounded up, disturbed ducks taking flight and all of it accompanied by; - let`s just say ``challenging comments`` from both parents. You cannot pay money to go and see first rate entertainment such as this.
Camping in La Montagne, an attractive name for a very average campsite, amongst the pine trees, dark and gloomy, no grass and it rained overnight. It is situated alongside a motorway. The bar prices were e2.50 for 25cl bottles of Kronenbourg.. My thirst matched the bar tab.. Ouch!.. Next day a lot of what I packed was indeed mud... e15.00 per night. I was at this time just short of Avignon 30/5/11.
The weather was beginning to change, there would be thunder and lightening even if it didn`t actually rain, it was going to and heavily, for quite some time to come. I was to find this out. It would also be the day of the 1,000th mile, and what would turn out to be a very good run to Mallemort. Large Campsite at e14.00.a night. A very varied scenic ride from forests to craggy imposing mountain ranges. From granite craggs topped with medieval battlements, tall, grand and definitely imposing!, to open fields, babbling brooks and raging torrential rivers, it was certainly raining somewhere! And more of those pretty villages. I should really have pedalled further and longer but was so enjoying the views and shops that I didn`t. I bought baguettes, and cheese and yes I know! - and coffee. It was almost like a proper holiday..
Stayed that night at Camping Durance (the river) - Luberon (the region) This became the day of the beginning of over a week of incredible weather, incredible for me. The locals just think its a tad inclement, and what is this fuss about?. That night tuesday the 31st of may 11 – It felt and sounded like my poor tent was being thrashed with multiple birch switches and from all directions. Ceaseless lightening coupled with thunder, all of it remaining overhead or possibly may have been a succession of other storms coming and going.. Huge amounts of debris the following morning, scattered all over. The next couple of days me and the old Gal didn`t dare go out fully laden, she can be a bit unpredictable at the best of times, let alone with surging winds of up to 70k..
Friday the 3rd was the next time I could get out.. It was still raining and occasionally very heavily,
I said goodbye to some newly acquired friends, who said I should really stay, the weather has not really changed, this break in the weather is just a ploy, it will return, it will get you..I had things my own way, I left to get on, got out the gate, turned right, travelled 30m and hid under a tree.. for the next hour, hoping that no-one would come out of the camp and see me, the heavens were alight with thunder and lightening, the rain had returned. Another break in the weather I dashed to Mallemort, it was a washed out market day, a coffee shop, I tied the old Gal to a tree and watched her drown. I supped at a cafelait, and looked at her mournfully.
The following days were more of the same, I stayed at campsites, I slept out. Sleeping out does not appear to be a problem. I suspect it goes on quite a lot, what the eye does not see the heart does not grieve. I just try to make sure I get on a site at fairly regular intervals. Fast forward a little bit to Monday the 6th, I`d just left a campsite at Gemonos, a very damp and dank place, particularly with the weather being so grim. There were culverts everywhere and some had been built in the mid 1800`s so I guess the whole place was a flood plain, coping with all the water that came off the mountains on its crashing, splashing journey to the mediteranean. Climbed out of Gemenos for 10k, it was a gradual thing, it was early and I was fresh, the old Gal was creaking a bit with the added weight of water (everything was still wet – impossible to get dry – even the air is wet).. Along the flat for around 5k and then down for 10k into the heart of Toulon. Every now and again, on my right hand side I would catch a sight of the azure blue of the med, at those points I felt grand.
The more aware among you will spot that I didn`t call in at Marseille. I did not meet anyone who would say to me. ``Yes there are campsites in Marseille`` Other folk said don`t go, it is not for you!.. I will never know now whether it it was, or whether it wasn`t... I do not think there are any campsites at all in marseille. I will never try to find out, if you do, please keep it to yourself. Bottom line I guess is, I just didn`t fancy sleeping rough, out and in the city if there turned out to be none!.
This is the reason why I`m suddenly in Toulon, well actually Le plage du pin de Galle in Le Pradet... Just east of Toulon..Two fine beaches within 5 minutes walk, down the cliff.... La Plage de Monoco is the other more natural and wild looking, but both are very very pretty.. Cold sea, but what the heck who cares, it`s the Med.
We spoke of luck earlier on in the Blog... The following are just thoughts on two events:
Cycling mile after interminable mile after leaving Normandie and edging slightly east, but still southerly over vast farmed fields hardly a tree to break up the monotony of it all.. Sun beating down, overwhelming weariness, then suddenly a puncture... I stop, tyre now completely flat, only takes moments for all the air to leave. I look around and I`m in an oasis, ok, So it`s a humped back bridge, but it`s over a river surrounded by a small group of trees. Shade, essential as I`m exhausted by it all.. Water to dip my inflating inner tube into.... Not a sign of any other shade as far as the eye could see in either direction. That is the Good luck, you might possibly consider it bad luck I got the puncture in the first place. But it is a fact that I will collect punctures, it comes with the mileage. The trick is to have punctures/breakdowns in the right place, and a garage is only slightly better than an oasis.. And a garage can be a whole lot worse than an oasis, and we all know garages like that don`t we?
Coming down a hill on my way to Mallemort, not too fast there`s a stop sign at the bottom. Suddenly I hear an empty water bottle abandon ship, it falls off the back of the bike, shall I leave it? - No, I thought nobly, there`s enough litter about, don`t add to it, go back and pick it up.
As I`m pushing the old Gal to the spot where I thought it might have happened, I see my phone on the footpath, not in the bushes, but on the footpath and in full view! It was intact, usually in similar situations, bits fly off in all directions.
I have had problems with this phone since it ran out of contract, around August of last year. The screen blanks out quite often as I`m scrolling, or going from one application to the other. With texting it can be embarrassing... I`m in the middle of texting, screen blanks, keep going, its going to screen you just can`t see it. Come out of predictive, come down two, select non predictive, listen, it beeps, now spell, Hit the key, go along a couple of hits, select.. repeat actions to finish the word, back into predictive, and then you finish. Now be brave you know how far down the contact list he/she is, nine, ten, eleventh now select, and …....... send...
Don`t ever do this, it might be the moment that your life changes forever..!
We are odd aren`t we, - Human beings - We adapt so easily to different scenarios and then just get on with it.. But why didn`t I adapt like any other human being and just gone out and bought another phone?
Oh finish the story!.. Right !… Luck?... Well the fall from the bike resulted in the phone itself doing a diagnostic, it saw the the fault, fixed it and it has worked perfectly ever since.. Nonsense I know, but the reality is, is that it is working fine now, and in a strange and slightly perverse way I do miss the excitement of ``the old way of texting``
Luck - I went back without realising I`d lost it, it was also in plain sight, otherwise I would not have looked for it. When I realised later that I`d lost the phone I would not have known where to find it. I would not now foresee how I would have managed without the phone... The whole aspect of the trip would have changed.. It is not always possible to get internet access, this I have found out. Huge reliance is placed on a phone... Why didn`t I get it replaced when it first started to act up?. Well that`s easy, if I had of done, then quite clearly I would have broken it.. It is after all a slightly hazardous trip.
I love my luck...
However having said that I am not having too much luck uploading photos, maybe something to do with the connection.. I will try again tomorrow and thereafter... one upload of a single photo takes a fortnight.