Day 147, Toulouse, 10.251 km
The advantage of being welcomed by friends and family is that the question of meals often comes up: « Is there something that would make you happy? – Everything except rice. And I eat a lot”. People also know that I love cheese (where I go, cheese platters die out), so I am spoiled at every stop, with a recurring motif that I really like: raclette! But before comfort, there is effort, I still have to pedal to deserve all these feasts…
Leaving Bordeaux, I’m trying to kill time for a good part of the morning: it rains, quite hard, and I make breakfast and the preparation of the bags last as long as possible, hoping that things will calm down. It does not calm down and I finally leave, in the rain… Once out of Bordeaux, the rain calms down, I even have the right to a little bit of sun and I start to tell myself that I was wrong to think that the day would be difficult. I enter the “forest” of the Landes: rectilinear rows of trees as far as the eye can see, endless straight roads, not exactly the idea I have of the forest… And when I begin to be pretty much dry, the deluge: storm, rain, hail, wind, the full menu. A gust of wind throws me into the ditch, my light hardly works, I find myself a corner at the edge of a field to spend the night. The wind is so strong that my stove goes out every 30 seconds. Jay even falls down. Twice. And it’s still raining. A lot.
The next day, the sun shyly points the tip of its nose on a post-apocalyptic landscape. (I know, I’m slightly exaggerating, but post-rain or post-storm doesn’t sound so great). The calm contrasts sharply with the outburst from the day before, no one on the road, not even a noise, the rivers coming out of their beds, the flooded roads (at some point I have to go through a road which is at least under 40 cm of water… Wet for wet…), but at least neither rain nor wind. It makes today’s stage more enjoyable than the day before… And the icing on the cake: a hot shower and a raclette at Marie and Florent’s to end the day after a quick visit of the magnificent city of Pau… Life is hard…
The next day, departure in the early morning for the last long stage before Christmas: 177 km to join Alex, Diana and Léa in Léguevin. I have to climb a steep hill just outside of town. At least it warms me up. When the road is flat again, I have a clear view of the snowy and cloudy Pyrenees. It is superb! It’s raining a little but not too much. There is wind, but in the rear. There is sun too. Ascents to warm me up and descents to rest my legs. With such conditions, I am ready to cycle all winter long! The hills of the Gers curl in front of me, the wind still pushes me and the sun heats me up. It feels great!
Night falls, my lamp dies. Fortunately, my night vision worthy of a graylag owl allows me to navigate without problems to my destination where a nice portion of lasagna, generously drizzled with wine awaits me. And raclette again at Aude and Guillaume’s the day after. A great way to start the four days of break that I took in the Toulouse region!! And I keep my fingers crossed that all the winter rain falls during those four days so I can get back dry on Monday!
And for geographers, we can see that the Tour de France is approaching its end!