Day 192, Avignon, 11.231 km
I had left Jay at the repair shop before the holidays, my heart full of hope and my head full of plans, already rejoicing at the idea of skirting the Mediterranean from Spain, hair in the wind and facing the sun, while the rest of Europe would suffer from cold waves and snowstorms… And then life reminded me that the plans that come true are often those that were not planned. Considering that it took me almost 3 weeks to get a new wheel for Jay, that it’s cold everywhere (and finally I ended up realizing something: biking by 4 ° and in the rain is really not funny) and that this dear virus is locking everyone in their homes, I decided to take another break. New start planned for the beginning of March, hoping to see it a little clearer (in every sense of the word) by then! In exchange for these two months of break, I will extend the adventure for two more months this summer, which will provide you with reading material until the end of August!
But rest assured, I have been very busy all the same during all this time: a bit of cycling to go see my aunt, including a small detour in the vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. A tour of the Aix hinterland to try my cousin’s Christmas present, with a little tour in the Maquis (where the French resistants were hiding during WWII) and a passage at high altitude in the middle. A brand new wheel and full overhaul for Jay and a round trip to Marseille to top it off.
So I pick up Jay equipped with his new wheel and prepare to leave for Marseille. I think for a long time about how best to describe the feeling I have when I see this wheel, the promise of a bright future without broken spokes long detours by the first available repairman. I had a few hours of cycling to think about it, and I finally came to the conclusion that the best way to say it would be to let my faithful companion speak: Jay is beaming !! (the joke works only in French sadly…)
Departure for Marseille, I once again take the road that leads me to Mallemort (for the 4th time already, I am starting to know it by heart), in a light rain (I always had a knack for choosing my moments) and with the wind in the face (it seems that it only happens once every 20 years to have a wind that comes from the South-East, a real talent I’m telling you …). But we have a good time anyway, I’m happy to be able to do a little cycling again, and since I’m not in sugar I don’t even feel the rain (which stops very quickly by the way). To make my job easier, I decided to take a little detour up the heights to the north of Marseille so as to avoid too much of the town at once. “Great idea!” I say to myself, contemplating the view after a painful climb. The sky is a little gray but I can see Marseille in the distance, the sea too, and even a superb high voltage line which enhances the beauty of the landscape!
When I start the descent, I tell myself that in the end maybe it was not such a good idea: there are holes and stones everywhere, I’m afraid of breaking Jay’s new wheel (!!!) … Finally, despite the cramps that are starting to be felt in my hands, I arrive at the bottom of the slope without damage and I quietly finish the last kilometers that remain until the finish at Régis and Béné’s. Then after a good shower, an invigorating aperitif, a hearty dinner and an OM match (tradition obliges!), I hit the road the next day to go to Benoit and Margaux.
It seems that it hardly ever rains in Marseille. Well, I probably brought something from Hamburg in my saddlebags: the city tour is cut short due to a heavy downpour. Never mind, we get revenge during the weekend: plane ride with Mika over Marseille on Saturday morning and hike in the calanques on Sunday. And all under a radiant sun!
The next day, final step before the Break. Wind is announced, from the North-West this time, therefore against me (I told you that I knew how to choose my moments). The start of the stage is rather quiet, we cross the magnificent northern districts of Marseille, with from time to time a huge hill that comes out a little out of nowhere and then descends immediately after … I then go through Aix (quite dead in this period COVID) and just arrived at lunchtime in Venelles to meet my aunt and my grandmother. So far, so good !
The afternoon promises to be long, very long, especially as the wind starts to blow and I ride in endless and well-exposed straight roads. And as a bonus, I am redoing the Mallemort-Avignon section for the 5th time, I even forget to marvel at the beauty of the landscapes. But all good things unfortunately come to an end, I arrive in Avignon and I drive Jay back to the garage for him to spend the month of February warm!
Break now, with train trips for the next few weeks and a resumption of the cycling season scheduled for early March! Until then, be well and enjoy the winter!