Archive for April 10th, 2010

Sigean to Agde (55.47 miles in 5 hours 12 minutes moving)

Today was nearly a mirror image of my previous day in France. I woke up, showered, ate, and repacked all of my gear back onto the bike and was ready to leave the campsite by 10:30 a.m., but once again, there was nobody in reception for me to pay. The sign on the door with the hours suggested that it should’ve been open for another hour and a half before the mid-day lunch break, but there wasn’t an employee in sight.  I took off towards Narbonne, and then stopped at McDonald’s again, this time about halfway between Narbonne and Beziers.

I took a long break- 1.5 to 2 hours by the time I’d eaten my L’petit Wrap and grande Coke and then went across the street to the supermarket for more bread, cheese, yogurt, and water.  With a full stomach and thirst quenched, I hopped back on the bike at about 2:30 p.m. with another 35 miles to ride. Right after starting up again, a car drove by and the front passenger tossed a cupful of water on me. I was really angry at first, because I had been riding deep on the shoulder and wasn’t impeding traffic.  But then I remembered seeing spectators throwing cups of water on the cyclists during TV coverage of the Tour de France, and I decided to consider it a respectful act that I just don’t understand, not having grown up in France.

Beziers took me forever to navigate through, as has become the norm for all cities with more than a single road in and out, and I soon found myself on a highway paralleling the Canal du Midi.  There was a great-looking bike path on the other side with lots of cyclists, rollerbladers, and walkers enjoying the warm spring weekend weather.  I crossed over to the path at my first opportunity, and was excited to have a nice wide path on which to ride, without a never-ending stream of cars passing by (at a safe 3-5 foot distance, ok Mom?).

The Canal du Midi bicycle path continued on for maybe 10 miles before disappearing at an intersection. I made my way back to the path on the other side of a bridge, but found it was unpaved dirt. I backtracked to a parallel road and tried that for a few miles until it came to the canal again, but the path was still a bumpy unpaved dirt trail, and I ended up having to add about 7 miles of backtracking to reach the D602 road which would take me to Agde.  My Garmin, for some reason, kept routing me off the D602 for about 5 miles, and then back onto the road, despite the map showing that the road continued on just fine.  I tried to force a route sticking to the D602 but “Nigel” wouldn’t have it, and I soon found out why. We came to a portion that had large “No Bicycles/Tractors/Pedestrians” signs, and I had to exit the highway for an alternate route. I wish the software would tell you why it wasn’t giving you the straightest and shortest route. In the past, on this trip, when I’ve ignored the GPS’ recommendations for a shorter or easier to follow route, I haven’t run into that trouble, making it hard for me to know when to trust the GPS and when to trust my gut.

The Canal du Midi
The Canal du Midi

I reached “Camping De Les Clape” BEFORE sunset (but only about 20-30 minutes) and paid the outrageous 18 euro fee for one person and a tent (and to think I balked at 15 euros when it was Easter weekend in Spain), although since my last two nights have been free, I’m still ahead.  This campsite is right on the beach though, though I won’t be able to take advantage of it since I will need to check out and be on the road tomorrow morning in time to make a special stop in Montpellier.  In the future, I may have to try staying at campsites farther from the beach to see if they are any more affordable. I got the tent up and had a few hours for my nightly rituals, before falling into a deep slumber.