Wednesday, 21 July 2010


Finally made it to canal du midi, after long 75 mile day, starting and ending in rain.

James now has a new chain, sprocket and crank and intends to regain his crown as king of mountains - except there are no hills on the canal. So let's see ...

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Day 7: St Foy to Agen

The med boys got rained on this morning and now have wet feet, wet t-shirts and wet shorts. It was so wet that Mike's sun tan cream was being washed out of his helmet lining and into his eyes on the steep climb out of St Foy.

We always knew this would be a hard day, with climbing at both ends. in the event, we followed master navigator Jeff's advise and headed further west and onto the canal du midi earlier. It meant a 79 mile day but avoided hills.

After 18 miles of sodden climbing, chef Kelly insisted we stopped at a nettle and bramble infested rural bus stop and impressed the locals with noodle san thistle and over saw Penny horlicks and Parker cous-cous en tomate. We then got back on our fine steeds into the pouring rain and plodded on to Tonneins, where we joined the Canal du Midi. After 10 miles or so, with Jeff out in front by 200 metres and James way behind, he calls to Mike to stop and come back. Mike in turn calls Jeff and they pedal back to help with the presumed first pucture of the trip....but No!
james has spotted a wild snake in the undergrowth near the canals edge and starts to uncover it with his water-bottle. Mike is just about to yell stop, knowing that a snake can strike from feet away when James reveals the creature as the packet of Jeff's beanfeast we've been carrying since St Malo. It's revenge for the non nudist lake ruse. Mike is disappointed at not seeing a creature to add to his nature notes. Jeff is fed up with the extra half a miles cycling incurred and grumbles "I don't even want to see a bloody snake..."

Kelly also wishes to claim king of the mountains at Puymiclan - and the first man to spot limons, figs, vanilla, peach, nectarin, walnuts and pepper. James ran over a toad and spotted a preying mantis. Later on, close to Agen, we pass some strange and huge vines. James clambers down eight feet to our left to discover kiwi fruit. Another exotic first, so we have to all join him for a photo opp. Minutes later we're collared by the weathered fellow below. After a bit of pointing at our pannier bags, he seems to accept that we're 'bon hommes' and tells us the fruit won't be ready till September, which is odd as they already seem twice as big as the ones in the supermarkets back home.

This was Jeffs hardest day. He didn't enjoy the canal to much and felt tired towards Agen, while Mike felt flat out exhausted when we got there. Both rested up and re-fuelled while James got his back block, chain and dodgy crank replaced in the city centre bike shop. The campsite, 3 miles or so outside town was full but the French owners generously allowed us in and gave great advice on the next days riding. A sweet couple who'd jacked in their former careers to run what was one of the friendliest and nicest sites we visited.

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