(I have collected some of the photos into a ‘photo story’ of the bike tour. You can find it on Flickr, here.)
The bike tour, like all good things, must come to an end. I made my way from Remoulins, where I stayed in a well-equipped campsite (with pool and restaurant, no less) to The Camargue and specifically to Grau-du-roi, where I found the beach and the Mediterranean, my final destination.
Once again I had a difficult night. The campsite was being used by workers to park their vehicles and stay overnight. So, at around midnight they turned up en masse, in vans, making a lot of noise. Duly at dawn, they took their vans and heavy equipment and left. I was wide awake – disturbed by the noise and now too tired to sleep again, excited by the day ahead.
The cycle went well. I travelled through a tiny village with cobbles which lead to a decent-sized col. Unlike climbing in the earlier part of the tour, this was bone dry and very hot. The landscape changing has been once of the most impressive elements of this trip and even within the 500kms or so I have travelled there has been a dramatic transformation.
Not least in Camargue, where the mountains disappeared and the flat, salt plains and etangs dominate the horizon. Despite being in Grau-du-roi, a coastal village and working fishing port, I had trouble finding the sea! At first it was barricaded by private hotels and villas which each divide and protect their portion. The destination of the sea proved as moving as I thought it might – I love the ocean (who doesn’t?) and seeing it spread before me was really quite something, even for this little trip.
But more urgent matter pressed me. I was hungry and as dry as the dust bowls that surrounded parts of the salt lakes. I bought a beer at a bar – no more food for the afternoon, though – and the barman filled my bidons with ice-cold water and some ice. Bliss. I drank deep. That was the best beer I have had for a long time.
So, ‘le petit tour’ is over. It wasn’t much of a tour but it was mine. The high and low points? The high points were the cycling itself, which I enjoyed even in the worse conditions; the camping at Ancône, right next to lake; and eating from my stove (and listening to the cricket). The low point came during the night, where the constant rain on the tent kept me awake and killed my spirits – and made my bottom lip wobble as I turned my bike into the heavy rain and rush-hour morning traffic in St. Laurent du pont.
The experience has given me some time to think about what makes a good short tour, what to take, some reviews on the equipment I used and all that so I’m going to collect my thoughts on that in the next blog post. Until the next one…