Well, it’s been an interesting couple if days!
it all started swimmingly yesterday with an early morning departure from the hotel in Royan. I arrived at the ferry in good time and was able to chat with my news friends from South Korea.
The smaller man, clearly not Korean, was a Frenchman who just muscled in on the action. Actually, his wife took the picture so he merited a place in the photo. They proved to be a lovely couple cycling south on holiday.
These guys were focused! All were 60+ and, like me, don’t look it. They ride from 9 to 6 each day, do over 100 kms daily, and the big one in the red is also the chef. They end each day by finding a campsite and he cooks a Korean meal for the others. They carry the ingredients with them. They are cycling all over Europe From Italy through France to the Low Countries and Germany. I felt humbled in their presence but did think they ought to try at least some of the local cuisine.
I have met some really interesting people on my way south but the Koreans were immediately topped by the next lot: Team GB. They were cycling from London to Biarritz in 6 days and planning a Biarritz booze-up for tomorrow night (that would be tonight in real time). Now these chaps were scary. They were 20 something’s, had all the kit, thighs like hams and their “technical” shirt pockets were stuffed with energy bars and glucose drinks. I didn’t know bike tyres could screech but I swear I heard them as they zoomed off the ferry.
The route from the ferry was flat and the surface was great so even I got a move on and was soon approaching Montalivet with about 30 kms covered. It was towards here that I noticed that the power wasn’t working correctly on the bike so I pulled in, decided it might be significant and so booked into a hotel to get on to the net and try to sort it out.
Now Montalivet is an interesting place. It has a fine, windswept beach with golden sands but I have a dim and distant memory of going there in the 70s and not being bowled over.
Plus ça change. It lacks charm. It also lacks a good internet connection and shops. The property market seems buoyant with shacks commanding very reasonable prices but my advice is to resist the temptation to buy there. The hotel was fine and they were very helpful. I could just about get connected if I sat on the hotel stairs and leaned to the left.
The people from Ansmann have been great. They put me in touch with their French distributors and, after a bit of too-ing and fro-ing, it looked like the sensible option was to get things checked out at the nearest one. That being Bordeaux, I made another early start today to back-track all the way to where the ferry dropped me off. This is the nearest station to Montalivet. Did I mention that it doesn’t have a station either? I caught the train from Le Verdun to Bordeaux, the only passenger to board as the tumbleweed blew along the tracks.
I have booked in to a hotel for 2 nights and done a recce of the route to the distributors for tomorrow. Luckily it is cycle route all the way in this cycle friendly city.
As you will all know, any time you have a breakdown or problem in France it will be on a Feast Day. Today was no exception and is Assumption Day.
The distributors are open tomorrow and are expecting me so I shall find out more when they have a chance to look at the bike. The UK Ansmann people have said they can get any parts required sent out quickly by courier so my guess is that I will have 2 options. If it is a reasonably quick fix, I can get back en-route by taking a train to Arcachon and then carry on on the Velodyssey. If it proves to be more intractable, I may have to take the train to Hendaye so that I can get the bike to Ceris’ in Spain from where we can arrange to pick it up and bring it home.
Being a worrisome old git I then went to Bordeaux-Saint-Jean station to check out the bike carrying arrangements for trains to Arcachon and Hendaye.
While doing so, I spotted a couple with 4 kids. Two of the children had their own bikes, as did the mother, and the father had one of those bikes with a kind of articulated dumper truck on the front carrying the 2 remaining infants. Their train for Arcachon left in 2 minutes and they just chucked everything into the first available carriage, received winning smiles from the other passengers for them and for their children, sat down and were off. Lesson learned, I gave up my fact-finding mission and went for beer.