Well, we made it through what was probably our coldest night yet in the tent. There was a couple beside us with a car and this morning, they were scraping ice off their windscreen before they left. It was cold! Despite two pairs of socks and riding in the sunshine, my feet stayed freezing until about lunchtime. When we set off, because our campsite was slightly off course from the canal, we needed to ride along the roads for about 15km before we could get back onto the path. This was actually a really nice ride and a nice change of scene, to ride along country roads, see farm buildings and houses and see some new scenery. We stopped briefly on the side of the road for me to do some quick bike maintenance and then we turned off and headed for our canal path once again.
The ride was just picture postcard perfect. The sun was warm, the wind was light, the path was quiet, the birds were chirping and the spring colour was just beginning to show itself. It was gorgeous.
We stopped for elevenses sitting beside the canal near a lock keeper’s house and we both decided we would be quite happy living the life of a lock keeper…quiet, peaceful, occasional company, meeting people from all walks of life, but mostly having time to simply be tranquil. We could cope with that!
We continued to ride along the path, through those beautiful avenues of trees and then we had a slight hiccup. We had to ride slightly off the path to get around a walkers’ barrier, which involved some bumpy track. I rode around it and continued on with Steve behind me, but then I heard him honking the horn to get my attention. I stopped and turned. “I’ve got another puncture,” he said. So we stopped for repairs on puncture number two. This one turned out to be more than just a puncture though and the tyre was damaged as well, so a new one would be needed. Luckily this time the weather was delightful, so Steve worked on the bike, while I researched accommodation at our next destination. Then we had lunch in the sunshine before continuing on. So it was just a little hiccup.
Speaking of honking the horn though…we have great horns on our bikes and they work so well and always get a smile or a laugh when we use them. Most bikes have those ting-ting sort of bells. Well, we have the sort of horns that clowns use in a circus, the parp-parp, honk-honk horns with the big rubber bulb on the end! The manufacturers of our touring bikes deliberately put those on the bikes because the ting-ting bells don’t always get heard (which is true), whereas these ones do. It means if people are up ahead, we can give them lots of warning with a parp-parp, from quite a distance back and they can move to the side, whereas with those little ting-ting bells, you’re practically on people’s heels before they hear them and then they get a fright. When people hear us honk-honking though, they usually smile or laugh at the sound, because you don’t usually get “clown horns” on bikes! Maybe they’re just laughing at the clowns on the bikes!
It turned out that none of the campsites on our route were open until June, so we had to head to another hotel for the night. So we arrived in Marmande and headed for our cheap and cheerful digs. The lovely Olga checked us in and as she was helping us to store the bikes, she said, “So you are from Australia?”
“Yes,” we said.
“Is not possible!” she exclaimed.
So I guess there aren’t a lot of Aussies passing through, or at least not a lot of dishevelled Aussies in helmets, with bikes loaded to the handlebars with bulging belongings, passing through!
After freshening up, we headed across the road to the hypermarket, which also had a bike store, where Steve was able to buy a new tyre and he treated himself to a new bike seat too. The fancy schmancy top-of-the-range seat he’s had on his bike has given him nothing but a pain in the rear-end, quite literally, so he’s ditching that one and has bought one with a bit more padding and a better shape. So, note to top of the range bike seat manufacturer beginning with B, your seat was no good, whereas my little cheap seat that I took off my mountain bike has been top notch and beat the fancy one hands down! I hope the new one is a good one, so Steve can get some relief in his tail.
So today was a beautiful ride, with lovely weather and gorgeous scenery. I know we will be leaving the canal soon and I’ll be sad to see it go because it’s given us some idyllic rides and has been a real highlight. I know there are hills coming, I know as we head north we’ll get the dodgy weather again, I know this has been a treat rather than a sign of things to come, but…I’ll take it while it lasts and I’ll take it with a smile! Life on the canal has been peachy!