From Cazilhac to Avignot-Lauragais (2018-07-27)

Sunflowers and the Canal du Midi.

I started early and cycled in the direction of Carcassonne. In Cazilhac I already had to conquer a very steep hill but I managed to cycle it all the way up (the picture shows it looking back). Then I freewheeled into Carcassonne. I followed the gps track and turned left.

But that road was ending in the middle of nowhere. Which in France always means ending up in a vineyard haha. So I turned on the navigation which then guided me all the way through town to the western part of the city. The Tour de France peloton had left (and the castle was still yellow), so it was rather quiet and easy on the roads.

Then the road started climbing so I started my daily exercise to. This road was not that quiet and pleasant since it was leading in the direction of the airport and to Toulouse, a main town in this region. Toulouse also houses the Airbus headquarters were some 28.000 people are employed.

The day before I had choosen to ride less (very) little roads. This to have less extreme uphills (or even mountainbike tracks ...), and so to have some more kilometers in less time. Until now I am averaging about 12 to 13 kmh while moving and about 10 kmh allin. With distances of 50 to 70 kms it means that I am to long on the road per day.

I want to arrive somewhat earlier at the campsite to have more time to wash my clothes, have diner, read a e-book, etc. So here I was, in the middle of very heavy, noisy 90kmh traffic. There was no shoulder and I felt not very comfortable ... But after about half an hour I saw the track turning right. So I switched off the navigation to start following the blue colored line at the gps screen.

For your information : with a real outdoor gps one can choose to have navigation, so with guidance, which then is called a route. Also one can choose to follow a colored line without guidance, which is called a track. A track however must be prepared on forehand since it is just a simple line, not taking into account anything. A route on the other hand is a live happening, just as you are used to in your car.

Being a former mountainbiker I strongly prefer tracks since you need far less attention to have that line in(to) your brain. Besides that, one doesn't have to turn on the sound when using a track. The track was the beginning of the beautiful rest of the day, on nice and quiet roads. Almost immediately I was in the middle of "emptiness" which however was filled with huge fields of sunflowers. Do I Love Them ! If there is one thing giving me a special feeling while being on the road it always is seeing sunflowers. But first I saw Mr. Lonely, that sunflower standing there all alone in a huge field without his friends. I stopped to take pictures, I ofcourse just had to ... Then I thought I heard him singing "Lonely, I feel so lonely". But I must have been mistaken, or maybe it was the first symptom of the daily sunburn haha. After having wished Mr. Lonely all the best I continued my way along a nice small road. Then I passed the Canal du Midi by a small bridge. Just to enter the Home of the Sunflowers ! I had to take (...) a lot of pictures with which I present this show to you. Then how sunny can a YesTrip Day be ?!

But then the road ended up at a private property, and (theoretically) I was not allowed to continue. Returning would mean a detour of at least 10 kms, so I had a closer look at that very narrow path leading to the left. Passing the barrier would not be a problem since there was a small passing next to it. So I took the guess and walked along, trying to avoid noise.

The house was in the full afternoon sun and all windows and shutters were closed. Far more important was that the dog (which is always there, but was it on holidays maybe ?) seemed not to be there ... Maybe he was cycling to, hunting for human idiots riding with to heavy bicycles at 35C that would make an easy victim haha. I followed the small track but was then stopped by a thick chain hanging over it. Happily it was hanging so loose that I could tilt it up far enough to roll the bicycle underneath it. About 1 minute later I reached the Canal du Midi. Viewing it always gives you a calm and easy feeling instantly, since it is simple and has those magnificant giant platanes along it. In fact it is just like real life : are you going to the left or are you going to the right ?! Just to continue your life in a straight line never seems to be an option haha ... I followed the Canal du Midi for quite a long distance. But despite being a canal, it was not easy to cycle. First thing is that I was cycling upstream which means a constant gradient of about 1%. Besides that the Canal du Midi is full of locks (ecluses) so every 500 meters to 2 kilometers you have to climb a short but steep road to get on top of that lock. I even had to push the bike at some of those uphills. The road itself is often quite decent, being tarmac, gravel or hard soil. But it is for sure not so always and everywere. At one point it was more like a mountainbike track, being unpaved, muddy, full of tiretracks and -bumps and tree roots. That stretch took me about half an hour and it was far from enjoyable ... After about 3 hours along the canal I was glad to see the track leaving it. From there on it was just about 10 minutes to the campsite. I will stay here for two nights (only) since this spot is in the middle of nowhere. There are no shops, restaurants, bakeries or whatsoever within cycling distance. This is my first time ever that I see a camping municipal but without a municipal (town, village) !

So I will stay here (only) one day extra to arrange some things and to prepare the next route. Lesson learned is that I should always have at least the next day's track already in my GPS. Then I will be able to leave the next day instead of being forced to stay.

I can (only) have diner at an A61 highway cafetaria that is about 15 minutes away. For commercial reasons one can also travel there via some local roads. Also for commercial reasons a small 0.25 litre bottle of rosé just costs € 5,20. And half a litre of water only € 2,20.

After "diner" I bought already a sandwiche being my breakfast for the next morning. So as you see, there is always some solution. Which also happens to be the dutch word for the glue you use to fix a puncture in your tire.

Today I cycled 65 kms and 333 vertical meters. Which took me 5h26 moving and 6h40 bruto.

Which also means I was averaging 12,2 kmh while cycling and 9,9 kmh including stops. For some reason (...) I drank very much water, I guess it must have been about 3 liters. I found (just) two points d'eau (waterpoints) along the road which is to my opinion rather bad. I also drank several canettes (cans) and verres (glasses) of softdrinks and lemonades, ofcourse au sirop citron. Beside that I wetted my head and shirt fairly often, to have a (short) cooling. Which made me rather smelly ...
Today actually nothing really special happened. Except for the fact that 10.831.596 sunflowers were waving me bonne route ... It was another fine day at the OnTheRoad 4.0 I hope you will soon find your Sunflower(s) to ! And refind your bicycle !

Until the next update !


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