Saturday, 24 July 2010

The medmen have arrived!

So this is it, our last day of our challenge, to cycle from the English Channel to the Med in 10 days, unaided, unsupported on cycles that only go forward by human force, i.e no use of motor. Imposibel the French cry, but for the med men a challenge to be taken on.

For the last 9 mornings Dr Jeff has been washed, fed, tent down, packed and ready to go before kelly and myself have even managed to rise sleepy eyed from our two man tent that has been home for us, our cycling shorts our fellow friend the french red ant and his friend the left overs from the 3 wild boars that foraged there! But today the sleepy eyed Geordie and the pais de Gale(Welsh) set the alarm 15 min earlier than the DrJjeff and were all oiled up and sat on their steeds waiting for the lazy Med man who was feeling a little head sore after a night of drinking the magic juice from the white grape.
We left the campsite to climb around the beautiful castle of Carcassonne and into the hills where the Mediterranean beckoned with its vineyards, olive trees, kiwi vines, and dry and parched soils. The Canal de Midi took us on our way through the plane trees and then onto the old roads through the villages of France. We're soon in Trebes, where bullfighting still takes place. Almond croissants and lunch rations are purchased and then we're off for another go at the Canal du Midiheading towards Homps.
After a few miles, we're fed up with the unneven road surface and squeeze over the lock at and onto roads which take us through Lezignan and the Corbieres region. It's a parched landscape and we even see a cactus growing outside a farm gate. Jeff is in fine form and contests a couple of King of the Mountains races with James. Mike is taking it easier, just glad to get over the last few hills to Narbonne.

The villages remained quiet as they had done throughout the trip, the only sound was that of the deafening sound of the crickets beating out their warning song, that the med men were coming!

In Narbonne, we chill for a while and indulge in some celebratory pre-prepared baguettes! We decide to follow the canal out to Grisain and after passing through an area of shallow lagoons populated by flamingoes, we see the Med. James alarms some holidaymakers by leaping under one of the beach side shower hoses fully dressed. We drink three celebratory beers in a bar on the front before wading in for an end of the road waterfight. Jeff wins the King of the Med title after ducking and nearly drowning poor James.

Jeffs wife Jane and daughter Jasmine arrive to take him back to their holiday gite near Montpellier. We enjoy 'fruits de la mer' at a favourite seafood cafe (James doesn't), before we take some last photos and Jeff dismantles his trusty Panorama to fit in the car. He looks a bit crestfallen as he's driven off. This isn't surprising. We've been together for 10 days and 750 miles. Longer than some marriages.

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The medmen have made it to Narbonne.

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Day 10: Carcasonne to Narbonne, medmen get ugly

The medmen were overcome with the beauty of Carcasonne and had a great feast of food and wine, including: ducks gizzards, goats cheese and duck pate. James of course had the vegetarian option of cheesy pasta and a plate of salad. The French really know how to look after the veggies!!

They are now heading to the sea on their last day of cycling. The sky is blue, the wind is behind us and the crickets are rattling.

James is taking pictures of people, snakes, frogs, horses, houses, cafes, cactus, graves, Cyprus tree, kiwi fruit, the place where Van Gogh put up his easel.

We also met Alex, a young french velocetist who was traveling from Bezier to the north coast of Spain and for the first time on our journey he was the only other cyclist except for James who wasn't wearing Lycra. There he was, top off, wearing a fluorescent builders bib.Pretty cool. Not.

He looked pretty fit, but had taken two days to travel around 40 miles from the coast due to the headwind. Good news for us, until we have to come back anyway!

Later in the day things got a bit hot with my fellow med men tempers frayed, it was all going to end in tears!!

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