78km Courris to St Jean d’Alcapiès

Have you ever seen purple potatoes??We’ve had enough of rain! If we knew how to do a sun dance we’d be twirling our way through the streets of France because the last week has been full of wet and chilly days. This gets depressing after a while on a bike. Should we just do a u-turn and head back to Spain? Friedel admits to considering this more than once over the past few days. We’re out of clean socks and our shoes refuse to dry out, not to mention the tent which is also perpetually wet and starting to smell about as appealing as our stinky feet after a long day cycling. The one thing we will say is that we are very happy we invested in Goretex rain gear (thank you Keiron for the advice before we left: “Goretex, Goretex, Goretex!”) and Sealskinz waterproof socks. They might be expensive but they pay for themselves many times over in a run of wet weather. Without them we’d likely be stalled several hundred kilometers back. Right now the rain has let up just long enough for us to set up camp on an abandoned rail line and give the tent half a chance at drying out. Now we’ll just keep our fingers crossed for the weather to hold and the sun to make an appearance tomorrow! The real shame of all these drizzly, misty days is that we’ve been going through some gorgeous areas along the Tarn river but we haven’t really appreciated them. Mostly we’ve just put our heads down and pedalled like mad to try and get to the next point, stopping once in a while to wipe the water off our sunglasses. At the end of the day, just when we were feeling fairly down about the weather, we did get a little lift from a local garden fair. Although they were mostly selling plants there was music as well and plenty of food stalls. We settled on a bag of sugar-coated donuts for a treat and what a treat it was. We licked our fingers and felt energized enough to take on a few more kilometers. Towards the very end of the day we had another laugh as a farmer passed us on his tractor while we took shelter at a bus stop to make supper. Andrew was frying the onions and other veggies to go with our pasta and the farmer licked his lips and told us how good it smelled, with a big smile on his face. We almost invited him to dinner but before we knew it he was down the road and at work in his field.


  1. friedel
    10th May 2007 at 4:04 pm #

    Road notes: We left the campsite at Courris and headed down the road, staying on the north side of the river for much of the day. The road is fairly quiet but the tunnels are something to be aware of. A good set of bike lights would be an excellent idea since some of the tunnels are long, narrow and not lit at all. One just before Broquies was particularly scary, although it did have a warning signal that you could activate to let cars know that cyclists were in the tunnel. It is best to divert via Broquies and the D25 instead of continuing on the main D200, in order to avoid a very long unlit tunnel. There is a sign indicating that this is the best way for cyclists to go. Leaving the Tarn Valley, there is a tap with potable water on your left as you pass through Le Cambon and St Affrique has a campground, although it wasn’t yet open for the season when we were there.

    What we spent: €1.70 pastries, €1.80 bananas, €2.50 donuts

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