- Pyrenees backwards
- Outward journey, final day: Laguarta to Graus
- Jaca to Graus?...down, up, up & up
- Over the Col & down to Jaca
- Cycling up towards the Pyrenees
Train Paris to Angoulême and off we cycle.
June 23, 2012
It all started so well: an easy ride to Montparnasse station from our friend's flat in the 16e and coffee & croissants waiting for the TGV to Bordeaux. Only slight flap when we couldn't find the station entrance despite large signs everywhere. It turned out we were at the back & also on an upper level so we had to go down to the platform on the escalator as the lifts were too small for the bikes. (Ok if you use your brakes.)
There were two other cyclists in our carriage & a seating area was re-arranged (officially) to fit the bikes. Unfortunately one of them discovered she was on the wrong train just has we set off but after a small discussion with the conductor, she was allowed to stay - luckily - as she noticed that I had left our tent on board when we got off at Angoulême. I just grabbed it in time.
To cross Angoulême we had to cycle up a VERY STEEP HILL & through the historic centre which was full of cafés & restaurants. So, as it was lunch time, we stopped for lunch - to fortify us for the road ahead. And did we need fortifying! We cycled the next 84km into a fierce headwind (we estimate force 5, gusting 6).
Our destination was my sister's house, a beautiful peaceful place surrounded by vineyards on the north coast of the Gironde. It was more or less due west, right through cognac country: big vineyards & stately châteaux. The terrain was my pet hate: rolling hills, ugh! They weren't as steep as English & Welsh hills but the wind made them feel like the Alps & by the end I was using my lowest gear to climb, and that's very low indeed. June 21st is, it turns out, La Fête de la Musique all over France and every small town was preparing a stage in the main square for an evening shindig.
We finally arrived in Jonzac, about 23km from the house & had to decide if we should just have a break or stop for the night. In hindsight, we should have bought a large sandwich & carried on. Instead we gobbled up a three-course meal & were serenaded by a local rock group in the courtyard of the hotel. With renewed energy we carried on and arrived at the house at nearly 11pm as darkness was finally deepening (the longest day) and managed to fumble with the keys & open the door. The electricity was on but no water came out of the taps and by that time it was clear that the Jonzac meal had turned against David. I'll draw a veil over what happened next, only to say that he sorted the water before collapsing into bed but we both spent the whole of yesterday recovering from nasty food poisoning...& sunburn.
To end on a positive note, we've not suffered any muscle aches or stiffness despite a long list of painful body parts when we were cycling along (ear, neck, shoulders, knee, foot to name but a few) & we woke up today (Sat) miraculously cured. So we've cycled to the village, cautiously eaten some food, done our washing, tinkered with the bikes & sat in the sun (yes!). We're going to start south tomorrow via the Blaye ferry. Thanks Siân & Ben for our stay. Short and, in the end, sweet.