Our gorgeous Warmshower hosts Laurent and Gwén had garaged our bikes for ten days while we drove around Languedoc Roussillon, and welcomed us back for another night at their spick and span home. They were out at a birthday party so we cooked up in their kitchen and made ourselves at home.
Using the inner part of a crutch, we rigged up a footrest for Rosie, and Shane took her for a quick spin to make sure she could balance with both feet up. Helen seriously doubted this plan was going to work, even with our planned daily distance revised down to 25km per day… But as usual Shane and Rosie were optimistic. So, after an epic re-pack and lots of well-wishing we were on our way, with Argie Bargie’s dead weight increased by 37kg and watts output decreased by the (sometimes) strongest rider on the bike. Would Shane cope???
The first day to Valence d’Agen proved to be 37km and not the 25km we had estimated from the free tourist map. It was also really hot! So it was with relief that we pulled into the municipal camping at Valence d’Agen; if Shane and Rosie could survive a hot 37km day, we would be able to complete our bike ride to Carcassonne. Optimism wins again.
Next day we cycled just 15km to Moissac where we found the particularly pleasant Camping Ile du Bidounet.
Shane and Helen had been confident Rosie’s foot would improve faster with her back on the bike, as she holds her injuries in her head; taking her mind off them would hasten recovery. They were proven right. This morning she threw away one crutch!
Venturing into Moissac we were all thrilled with the Abbey St Pierre. The fact that, after 4 months in this country, we can still be so roused by a building, speaks volumes of the richness that is the built environment of France. We loved it! Actually the whole town was lovely and we would have liked to spend more time there.
We pedaled onto Montech – with Rosie contributing to the pedaling from time to time, much to Shane’s relief – where there’s a very pretty port (?) and a massive campsite that was spookily quiet. We were happy to press on the next day to a Warmshower at Grenade-sur-Garonne.
Staying with Henri, Isabelle, Clare and Barthemé was a rare treat (their two older children were away at a music boarding school). Their house was filled with love, surprises and the theme music from Betty Blue. From the moment we were greeted by their remarkably confident 9 year old daughter Clare who was keeping house by herself, we knew this Warmshower would be memorable.
This family had cycled / train-hopped our route in reverse last year – their stories of squeezing six bikes into third class Trans Siberian trains kept us open-mouthed! Then 8 year old Clara pedaled 8000km on her own 20″ wheeled bike. It wasn’t all fun and games though – none of the kids were keen to cycle tour again!
There’s a wonderful video of this family made my three very fun-loving South American travellers who they happened upon in Siberia. Watch it. Watch it! Now!
We enjoyed a fabulous, typically late, dinner and stayed up until 1am with Isabelle and Henri, drinking our way through pastis, wine and armagnac. Another Warmshower and another highlight. We would sincerely have loved to spend more days here and get to know this extraordinary ‘Sixtette family’ better.