Day 7: Luzech to Septfonds.
Trip total: 834.43km
Squashed moles: 1
Canadians spoken to: 1
Peacocks: 1 seen, 1 heard
Today was definitely the most enjoyable day of the trip so far, due to the shorter distance travelled, less punishing terrain, and a drop in temperature for most of the day, although it still got up to 38 or 39 in the sun.
But first a bit more on Valerie and Christophe, as I don’t think I did them justice in last night’s blog.
So, after chatting to them a bit more, it turned out that only Christophe works at the care home where they have an apartment, and Valerie works in nearby Cahors, where she works (from what I could make out) for local government as the P.A to someone quite important.
In 2001, before they had children, Valerie and Christophe set off around the world by bike, cycling through Europe and arriving in Turkey on September 11 2001. Their original plan had been to continue through Turkey then into Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, but for obvious reasons the timing of their arrival forced them to change their plans. Instead, I think, they moved on to India, carrying on around the world and cycling up through Chile, Argentina and Central America before heading back to Europe.
Their trip was primarily to raise awareness of Multiple Sclerosis, and in each country they visited the HQ for multiple sclerosis charities, and for part of the way they were towing trailers on their bikes, carrying M.S sufferers.
In France, when someone has been an employee with the same company for a total of five years, they are entitled to take a career break and keep their job, which will be waiting for them when they get back. This is something Anne (who I stayed with a few nights ago) is planning on doing, and Valerie and Christophe did this fairly recently, taking their bikes, trailers, and two young children Lalie and Esteban (who are about to be 4 and 6, so must have been very little!), and touring New Zealand and then Thailand for six months, just before the trouble in Thailand started.
They seem like a very contented, happy family, and are constantly off on adventures with the children, and like to stay active all the time. On the day I arrived they’d taken their inflatable canoe to a local river for the day, and when I left they were preparing to go fishing for the day on a lake.
I decided to keep moving today, rather than staying in Luzech, but halved the distance I’d originally planned to cycle, and after a long lie in and a big breakfast with Valerie and Christophe, set off for Septfonds, about 5km from Caussade.
I stopped in the centre of Luzech to plot the route on the GPS, and a group of cyclists across the road spotted me pulling up. One of them, from Quebec, walked over because my loaded tourer had caught his attention, and started chatting to me. He told me how 40 years ago he’d flown to England, bought a 5-geared, steel framed bike, and set off on a tour of England, Ireland, and Wales, and then taken the bike back to Canada, where he realised 5 gears don’t get you up mountains.
The late morning was quite cool, and there was light cloud cover, so although the first 15km or so were very up and down on tiny, winding, rural lanes, it was far more enjoyable, especially knowing i didn’t have 100km ahead of me.
I took my time, eventually emerging from the steep hills into more open countryside near L’hospitalet, and joining quite a large but not too busy road all the way through to Caussade, making very slow progress up long, hard climbs, but at times enjoying kilometre-long descents at 45-55kph, slowed only by the wind resistance on all my luggage.
From Caussade, it was a short 5km or so to Septfonds, where I’ve set up camp at a lovely rural site, a couple of km out of the town, and I’m now sitting in the evening sunshine with a cold beer (there’s a theme developing for my post-ride reward). Tomorrow will take me to Gaillac, tonight’s original destination, which is now another 50-60km away, so I can afford to get up at a leisurely pace tomorrow and take it easy again. I’m counting down to my arrival in Ceret now, and as I type Mum, Dad and Rosie are motorhoming their way to Dover, ready for an early ferry tomorrow and the start of the race to Ceret.