Day 8: Septfonds to Gaillac.
Trip total: 897.68km
Buzzards being dive-bombed by smaller birds: 1
Squashed snakes: 1
It’s been a really nice feeling covering shorter distances over the last couple of days, and has given me the chance to get some much needed rest. After a week of up to 158km a day, I’d definitely started to lose some of the enjoyment, and the daily pressure of getting as far as I could before the hottest part of the day, knowing that I’d still need to carry on through the heat at a slower pace, was starting to take its toll.
Today was the shortest day of the trip so far, and I arrived in Gaillac just after 2pm, as the day was starting to heat up, and have been resting in the shade since.
There was some climbing early on in the day as I headed out of Septfonds towards Montricoux, crossing the hills and then dropping down into the town to cross the river L’aveyron. After this I climbed back out of the valley towards Puygaillard-De-Quercy, and enjoyed some flat riding along the banks of La Vère and through Larroque, a tiny village sitting beneath tall cliffs cut into the rock by the tiny river.
More relatively flat riding took me on to Castelnau-de-Montmiral, a tiny, ancient looking town perched on a hilltop, and I couldn’t resist a slight detour from the route to climb the steep, narrow streets into the town, arriving at a tiny, bustling market place, where the traders were just starting to pack away their stalls.
After a quick breather in Castelnau I set off on the final 12km to Gaillac, only briefly stopping to check out a tempting looking pizzeria, but thinking better of it being so close to my destination. An exhilerating, fast desent down a long hill into the Tarn valley saw me hit 60kph (during which I was pleased I’d tightended the brake cables last night) before a final few flat kilometres to the outskirts of the town, where I found the campsite without any problems.
I feel like I’m nearing the finish line now, and keep finding myself impatiently wishing the next four days away, probably a little prematurely. There shouldn’t be any really tough days ahead of me now (famous last words), with 80km to cover to reach Castelnaudary tomorrow, then a barely-worth-getting-on-the-bike-for 40km from there to Carcassonne, where I’ll have more or less a whole day to explore the town. From Carcassone on Friday I’ll travel 80km or so to Leucate and my first night on the Mediterranean coast, and then a final 70km to Ceret the following day, hopefully arriving mid-afternoon and finally meeting up with the family!
And so, with cicadas making a din in the background, I’m going to kick back, chill out, and get ready for the next few days of impatient riding.