Daily Archives: September 6, 2012

Day 58: Day Valras Plage to Le Balcares – 88k

4,625km down: 1,600km to go

After my phone being silly last night, I woke up at 12:03am and my phone was not going – damn!! I should have found out where to charge it, as now all the other rides were asleep so I couldn’t ask anyone. I reassured myself that Lizzy was not due for another two weeks. I spent the night waking up every hour or so (checking the time on the iPad but the Wifi was not on).

I woke up at 6:10am and asked straight away where I could charge my phone and I put it on to charge. I was thinking to myself that it’s unbelievable that the phone chooses now to play up, so late in the trip. At lunch time I planned to send through a list of alternative numbers just in case it played up again. I put my charged phone into my bag at 7:30am, with no messages showing, and we set off.

It was a really windy ride; at times we were only going 8kph, into a headwind blowing so strongly at times it was threatening to push us into the middle of the road. We got to one village and could not find the way out, a group of eight of us spent about 40 minutes unravelling the directions (it turned out later that the local cop had removed all the flags). We finally set off again, 5k back into the head wind, followed by a totally glorious 15k dirt track along a canal with the wind behind us. We could get up to 15kph without pedalling, and the highest we got up to was about 28kph.

After we got out of the canal we were back into the head winds and slow going until the lunch stop. I had been going to text Lizzy the alternative numbers at lunch but it was so windy I decided to wait for another 5k. We had a planned stop at 65k to eat oysters, the boats go out and catch them and sell at small restaurants along the shore. I thought “at least I will be inside and be able to hear myself think!”.

So we got to the oyster restaurant and I checked my phone and I had 3 missed calls and about 20 messages! Starting with:
Mum it’s happening, Lizzy is in labour
Mum, you awake?
Mum, please ring when you get this
Mum, Jiggly* is here!! He is healthy, Lizzy was amazing, all is well.
Mum, please ring when you get this message!!!!!!

So I am a Gran!! Lizzy and the baby are both doing well which is the main thing.

Where I was when I found out I was a Gran!

It was 20k from there to the camp, I could not wait to get there to see if there is Wifi available (I had my fingers and toes crossed!) – I was thinking hopefully there will be a photo!! And there was: Oh my gosh Jiggly looks just like his mum did, ginger hair and long and lanky. Next stop was the supermarket to get three good bottles of French champagne to celebrate the safe arrival with the rest of the tour riders.

Proper French Champagne to celebrate the arrival of my first Grandson

I was so relieved, 95% of women have perfectly normal deliveries but I know way too much about those that don’t. I had a few moments of thinking “What am I doing here! I should be there” but I am not. At least he is here, and safe, and Lizzy has lots of support at home.

The other riders celebrating with me

(* Jiggly is the nickname we have had for the baby the whole time Lizzy has been pregnant).

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Day 57: Montpellier to Valpas Plage – 86 k

4,537km down: 1,688km to go

We left the hotel in a convoy for the first 5k. As already mentioned, the weather is noticeably colder, most riders are wearing jackets, and even a couple are wearing hats. The wind was around, but not too bad. We had reasonably good riding until the lunch stop.

All I can say is that when the lunch truck stopped and set up, Geergo would have had no idea that it was going to be right by a crazy busy market and in the middle of a massive motorbike display! My god, the bikes! Hundreds of them – big bikes, small bikes, bikes that were more like cars, they were endless.

At one point we lost the flags but after discussion and consulting a GPS we were off again. We stopped and took a photo of the Gulf of Lion (part of the Mediterranean), there was kilometre after kilometre of bike path.

We stopped about 15k from the camp at a lock and watched a couple of boats going up it. One of boats was called Christina B which is the name of my maternal grandmother so I took a photo of it.

Christina B

There was also a field with a large straw man, it was really huge.

I still get bike chain gunk all over my legs EVERY day!!

As already blogged about, the night before we got to Montpellier the camp we stayed at had a shower where you had to hold it on with one hand while you showered, well today was not quite as bad, at least it lasted 5 seconds in between pushes. But once again there were squat toilets, no soap, and no toilet paper. One of the things I have also found challenging is knowing which is the male and female toilets and shower, as it is not always clear if you don’t speak the language. In Italy I lurked outside until I saw a women going in, in Slovenia there were graphic illustrations on the male sign that left you in no doubt! In France I took a guess that Femes was female, luckily I was right.

The main holiday season has finished and the children have gone back to school, so we are riding through mile after mile of deserted camp grounds, empty shops, and amusement parks that are being dismantled. You can tell by looking that the place would have been bursting at the seams and humming only a very short time ago . . . Now it has that after Christmas feeling when it’s time to take down the tree.

I was really tired when I got to camp so I had a sleep. I woke up for tea then went for a walk along the beach. I noticed when going to bed that my phone was showing only 16 percent charged, which was strange as it was fully charged in Montpellier this morning! I was going to get up and find an outlet to charge it when it then decided it was 76 percent charged, so I thought it would be ok.

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Day 56: Rest day in Montpellier

I slept in until 8:30 and then Skyped with Lizzy, Dan, Theo and Eva. Lizzy is now 38 weeks and on maternity leave. It was good to catch up and see them all looking well. I even got to see our old cat who looks like she has put on weight, which is reassuring.

I went out and did the laundry, and bought a couple of things from the market. I had plans to sightsee but I have been feeling a bit weary and ended up having a three and a half hour nap. Then I went for a walk. We went through a wall, up an escalator and then we were in the old town. Unlike the new part of town it was full of people – once again street performers, painters etc. There was one particularly novel act – a pair of jandles on a box with a note saying “Naked invisible man”. I gave some money for being so novel.

Novel type of street busking

There is definitely a change in the temperature, after being way too hot, people are wearing jackets, and hats (including us), and the wind is not pleasant – although it would be normal to those of us who live in Wellington, but after the past couple of months is not normal to me!

A couple of things have hit me while I have been looking around, there appears to be much more than the usual number of disabled people that are in wheelchairs. It is a university town so I wonder if they are students or lecturers, but certainly many more than you would see around Wellington.

The other thing that is more numerous is dogs! In many sizes and shapes, they are allowed into the malls and restaurants and general shopping centres. They are everywhere. When you have a meal at a restaurant it is not uncommon to see a few nozzles poking out from under the table, hopefully sniffing the air.

Not sure if you remember back to a very early blog when I first got to St Petersburg when I mentioned that I really missed being able to just make a cup of tea whenever I wanted to. Well unbelievable, this hotel has a kettle in the room plus paper cups. Only two teabags but that was quickly sorted by going to the market. It’s hard to explain the joy I got from making as many cups of tea as I wanted over a 24 hour period!

We have a new rider, Danya’s dad Bill has come to join us to ride five days to Barcelona. Bill flew into Nice and had to manage transferring a bike box and two bags in between platforms on a train change – no mean feat. We have given him some helpful hints such as the tradition that new riders ride baboon style their first day. Tomorrow we will see if he has taken our advice.

The evening finished with a curry, at the first curry place I have seen in two months (my local would be under no threat) then back to the hotel for an early night, as we are back on the road tomorrow.

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