Angoulême > Bordeaux
Bordeaux > Mimizan
Over the last couple of days I’ve enjoyed better weather and routes, but poor old Winona has been through the mill a bit, and has visited 2 bike repair shops in as many days!
Angoulême > Bordeaux
The guys I stayed with in Angoulême were awesome.
Virginie and Guillaume have previously CYCLED ACROSS CANADA and are already planning their next bike tour, with new baby Ambre in tow. They advised Decathlon to get Winona’s pannier rack and gears seen to.
I was at Decathlon pre-9am opening, and was surprised to find a small crowd already forming. Surely not all of us could be suffering an urgent sporting equipment failure at this hour?
An hour later, Winona was restored to something resembling her former glory, rising like the proverbial phoenix, and we were rolling.
Such a different day – much better weather, quite windy but tolerable. Sensible roads – hilly but smooth-rolling tarmac the whole way. With confidence in newly-repaired Winona I could afford to go a bit faster.
I had quite a light breakfast, as Virginie and Guillaume had recently suffered a bread disaster. I mean, it wouldn’t be considered a disaster in any other country, but in France it was – Virginie works in a hotel, and normally gets bread from work at the end of the day, but they’d run out! So no breakfast bread. By mid-morning I was ready for lunch, but it being France I had to wait until noon. Serving hours are strictly noon until 2pm – if you don’t get to a restaurant to eat when the French want you to eat, your chances of finding food are almost as slim as your waist could soon become.
Yesterday’s lunch location ticked all the right boxes – it was actually open and serving (sounds obvious, but see above), close to the road, I could eat within sight of Winona, and got a seat next to a plug socket for phone charging.
There were even 3 unexpected American-themed bonus boxes ticked too. Firstly, the restaurant served a monster-sized version of one of my all-time top skiing snacks, the ‘Americain’ (Steak haché and fries in a baguette with mayo and ketchup). YUM!
And then there was Tobi and Ron, 2 Californians. When I overheard them speaking English, I quickly checked Ron’s hair, which was not long and therefore made them safe to engage in conversation (see previous post for context).
It was a real treat to be able to have a relaxed, sensible chat without the need for gesticulations, charades and dictionaries. We spoke for a while – they have a property in the area and spend a few months a year there. They also very kindly donated some money to Calais – which you can too at http://www.justgiving.com/pedalthenpaddle.
Best of all, they even got the Winona Ryder pun, which has so far bombed with the French, who seem not to know who the original Winona is.
In Bordeaux, I was welcomed into the lively home of Irène and Géraud. Both Professors in Computer Science at the University of Bordeaux, they were really interesting to talk to and treated me so very kindly.
Bordeaux > Mimizan
The first 80% of today was uneventful – so uneventful, in fact, that it makes very uninspiring reading, so I won’t go into any more detail on the boring hours of cycling pressing ever-southward, albeit on mercifully flat roads with good weather, but high winds.
Then, 2 misadventures occurred in about the last 20km. It had been really windy all day, but as I came into quite an open stretch, the wind really picked up and a truck heading in the opposite direction zoomed past, created a really strong swirling draught and blew me onto the grass verge (sorry Mum)! It was scary but fortunately everything was a-OK.
Then about 7km outside of Mimizan, my final destination, my left foot started feeling a bit wobbly. I presumed it was the cleat clip in my shoe loosening a bit, so released it and just rested my foot on top to carry on pedalling to town before sorting it. Another 50m or so, though, I pushed down on the pedal and it came away entirely, pedal arm and related components flying across the road!
It was certainly worth investing £80 on a full service and rebuild before I came away – Halfords just did SUCH a good job of it! The purpose of getting a thorough once-over before coming was so I wouldn’t need to carry any specialist tools with me – so obviously I didn’t have the necessary equipment to repair it myself.
I wasn’t exactly Tour de France material with my one-legged pedalling (with the good knee) and scooting for the remainder of the journey, and I was fortunate that there was a cycle repair shop open here. I presented the chap with the components I’d collected from their scattered locations on the D626, and he seemed satisfied that I’d retrieved enough to successfully perform the repair.
Every cloud has a silver lining, though – when I asked how much the repair would be, the lovely mechanic said ‘just a smile’. The benefits of being a lone female, eh?! Then I found a bar that serves Heineken for a
mere €1.80, so I treated myself.
Dare I carry on tomorrow?!