I left Bize-Minervois today despite having a predicted headwind of 45kmh. Then the meteo predicted the same for the next day, but with rain most of the day. While writing this I now know that it didn't rain the next day and it even was more sunny. Nevertheless it was a fine day to travel.
However the day didn't start to well ... At first at the bakery there were no sandwiches available since there had been an early problem with the delivery of the flour. Then, when I turned around, I saw 2 newspapers. They were announcing the Tour de France peleton being in Carcassonne for the next 3 days.
Were Cazilhac, very close to Carcassonne, was exactly the next place I had choosen to visit for my next stop. So I was not at all sure whether all campings would be fully booked by the fans. And how enthousiastic they would be, especially at night ... Anyway I decided to take a guess and to not change my plan.
It had rained all night so the tent was wet. I made a very big mistake by shaking it to get it dry sooner. With a loud crack a tentpole broke into 3 pieces ... There was not much to do about that for the moment so I packed everything and was on the road at 8h30 already. When I visited the bakery again the fresh sandwiches were available, so I bought one with jambon et fromage (ham and cheese). Already after half an hour I passed a small village where the epicerie (small supermarket) was open. Even more important I saw some tables and chairs inside.
As so often in small towns they can only survive by being multifunctional. So they also served fresh coffee ! I ate half of the sandwich and had two cups of very nice coffee. It later turned out they costed just € 0.50 each ... To bad I could only store 2 of them haha.
Then I was off again, heading west on a nice small road and without any other traffic.
And that was because this road turned into an unpaved track ! Fortunately that was just for some 15 minutes and I loved being offroad for some time. Old vtt (mountainbike) times were here again ! I then had no clou what I would face later this day ...
I passed a lot of small villages, all without any services. Suddenly I passed a bicycle rental shop and decided to ask for a bigger, non-leaking bidon. They sold me one with there name on it (being the only option) for € 5.
Just when I wanted to leave I remembered the broken tentpole. So I asked them for some piece of metal which I could use that evening to fix the tent. I saw some polyester rods lying in a corner which were the remains of warning flags one can mount to bicycles. When I explained the situation I got one for free (thank you).
My route continued along the Canal du Midi. Within 15 minutes some 25 bicyclists came down the road, at high speed having tailwind, each with one small bag at the rack and all with helmet.
The Canal du Midi is world famous, also for cycling. Then it is ofcourse almost flat, and it has nice cycling tracks all along its side, sometimes even at both sides. Also it often offers lots of shade, and lots of touristic villages, then tourists is what it attracts. I took some pictures of the canal and went on.
The route was still very nice, riding on small roads and without much traffic. But that would change ...
However, many fans, including Mr. Wine, were there to wish me bonne courage. I thanked them for there good whishes, then the wind was not my friend today ...
I passed the Aude river by a very (1 car narrow) metal bridge, probably being a leftover of WW2. That this is a windy region is clear concidering the amount of windmills that are at the hills all around.
Then the road went uphill. And uphill and uphill. I saw a bend coming up of which I presumed would be the top, at least almost. But being in that bend I found out that there was no tarmac anymore.
It was an unpaved track and with some pretty rough surface. The type of surface one loves when being on the VTT (velo tout terrain, mountainbike). Things got worse then first being some 3 meters wide the track got more and more narrow. Actually after some minutes it was just about 30 centimers "wide". I could ofcourse not cycle here and had a hard time to wrestle the combi through the bushes.
But as always I was optimistic. Never ever in my life have I turned while at the mountainbike. I always kept going, no mather the situation. I now also did, despite with a presumed 50 kg bike.
At certain spots there were deep pools with muddy water that I could not avoid, so I had to cross them with my feet and shoes into them. There was one spot where I could put the bike to a tree to enjoy the surroundings and enjoy the scenery.
Thanks to the muddy ground I also saw footprints of deer. If you have ever seen deer running at and uphilling hills you will never forget how quick and elegant they do so. I was fortunate to witness such a moment some years ago while mountainbiking in the Sauerland in Germany. There some 12 deer managed that uphill the way I managed the downhill ...
Then, after a lot of pushing and pulling, I got stuck at some big stones. They each were about 20cm heigh and creating a stepup but it took me some 10 minutes to get the bike over them, and another 10 minutes to convince myself to continue. The camping was only some 8 kms away, and turning back would cause a very long detour on those not so nice 80kmh crowded and noisy roads. More worse, it would ruine my reputation haha ...
Then I finally reached a small tarmac road and was relieved. Although it was at least as steep as the vtt-track I just had managed. So I pushed again for some time. Then again the tarmac just stopped. There was just a "road" of some 6 meters wide, but with only loose stones, varying from 5 to 20 cm in size. And by far to steep and to rough to cycle. This stretch took me another 30 minutes of heavy pushing. The situation was so difficult and demanding that I forgot to take any pictures here.
The (recorded) height profile shows that the challenge started at about 45 kms ...
But anyway, it was a great track !
Finally I reached a normal gravelroad were I could cycle again. That was after some 2 hours of pushing and pulling ... And all the time I was wondering whether there would be a campspot left for me.
Having the camping almost in sight I passed a small shopping area and could not resist to have another well tasting lemonade au sirop citron. And one more.
Then, after another 15 minutes, I arrived at the camping. Were I had to wait in a (hot office) queue for some 30 minutes since I was not the only one (at this rather late hour). But yes, there was a spot available at the randonneur field. Which was not such a field for 2-wheeled people, except for the price (of € 8,50 per night).
After having put up the tent and having made a emergency repair to the tentpole, I took a shower. It took 10 minutes with the dishwashing brush to get the mud of my feet and sandals ...
Today I found only one regular watertap along the road and one at a hidden terras of a closed pizzeria. The only other one was somewhat too big for my bidon, and did not give me any water anyway (since it is there just for the looks).
I rode 55 kms and managed 538 vertical meters.
The next day I made a small tour to find a sandwich and to do some shopping. My plan is to visit the castle of the old village of Carcassonne.
Carcassonne is only 5 kms away from Cazilhac and despite being it very touristic I will visit it again. Just not today, being sunday, plus being today's etappe arrival town of the Tour de France.
I hope you too will have some very nice (holi)days ! And don't forget to start your bicycle and/or your photo camera as often as you can. They will open your eyes, and there are an awfull lot of beautiful things to see out there !
Until the next update !