We left Biscarosse Plage at 9am on the 17th. We rode inland and got off the ocean for the first time in 2 weeks. Back to the French Countryside.
As we rode the scenery changed from beaches and pine forests to wine country. We started biking past tons of grapes and little farmhouse vineyards.
Between the ocean and the vineyards was a lot like biking through the American West. Lots of unpopulated but pretty areas with the occasional small town. We ended up in this little French town with a Carrefour grocery store and decided we’d camp there.
When we got to camp it was 5PM and the campground was closed. So we found another site that was 20 miles away. We managed to get there in an hour and 15 minutes by making a three man draft line.
It was a very nice campground just outside of a city with a huge store across the street.
The weather said it was going to rain over night but it kept getting pushed back so I didn’t trust it. I set up my hammock and went to bed and at 4am I woke up to the rain and ran into the tent. I didn’t get that wet since I woke up right when it started. But it wasn’t a pleasant surprise.
I woke up in the tent and looked at the weather and it was forecasted to rain off and on all day. So we decided to just take a day to hide from the rain in our tents.
When the rain cleared up for about an hour or so we went to the store and got all the food we’d need for the day. We got tent snacks and dinner to make over the stove in the big campground tent.
Today we started getting into the hillier areas of France. But it was beautiful with the vineyards coming down off the rolling hills and all the farms at the hilltops.
We biked to a McDonald’s for the free wifi and a French Big Mac and we picked out where we wanted to camp. We found a great campground amazing amenities, great looking camp sites, farm animals, I could keep naming stuff. But there were two issues it was €60 a night, and it was a nudist campground.
The second option was this vineyard at the top of a big hill about 20 miles away. So we ate our Big Macs and started pedaling again.
We got to the camp spot at 5. It was just the farm owner and his dog. He gave us the grand tour of the campground, the little shop, the hang out spot, the bathrooms and the pool. We bought a bottle of wine which he grew the grapes for and then we set up our tents and went to the hangout spot.
About an hour later I was cooking dinner for us and these two German bikers rolled up. They sat down with us to have their dinner while I finished cooking ours and then we spent the whole night in the little room talking with these guys.
We left the campground around 11. A little late because we had to wait out the rain.
We started on the Canal Route. A route where you follow a canal. In case anyone was confused. It was very pretty and you were just a couple feet from riding in the actual canal. There were farms all around and a lot of fall trees.
We rode this route to a Decathlon sporting goods store for me to get some long underwear in preparation for the cold weather to come. The pants I brought aren’t very good for cold so I wanted to get some in advance so I’m not stuck somewhere and super cold.
While Henry and William waited for me to pick out the best one they did campground research and found this campground about 20 mi down the road. We made our way over there slowly but surely. We had to stop for me to fix my spoke tension and true my wheel and for Henry to fix his back gear shifter. It was also a very hilly route.
Henry and I got there about five minutes ahead of William because we raced the last five miles of huge up and down hills. Henry won. But that’s not important. It was a very close race.
We got to this campground and it was amazing. The people were so nice and they had new bathroom facilities and great camping. Henry and I jerry rigged a hammock setup between two very far apart trees. We cooked pasta with the intention of doing a long day the next day because William said he needed power food to prepare.
Henry and I went to bed in our hammocks. William went to bed in his tent with no rain fly. The weather said it was clear all night.
Sept 21 – 2AM
I wake up to Henry getting out of his hammock to go to the bathroom. The displacement of his weight shot my hammock into the air. I managed to fall asleep 15 seconds later.
5 minutes later Henry is still gone and I wake up again to the tapping of rain on my hammock. I thought I was just dreaming and my brain was tricking me since I knew the sound now from the night before. So I brushed it off and closed my eyes. The sound continued and I heard William wake up and say “WTF is it raining?”
So I shot up and found henrys panier that had the tent and started setting it up by my self because Henry was in the bathroom.
By the time Henry was back I had nearly set up the tent. Just the stakes left. But I realized we forgot to let our tent air out from the other rain night so the whole inside was wet.
While Henry staked it in I went and grabbed the tarp from my bag and layed it down over the tent floor. Then we got our sleeping pads and bags into the tent and got all our non waterproof gear into the tent and went to bed.
I woke up tired from our 2 am endeavor and realized I still had some spoke and trueing work to do. So I texted William since he gets up before me and told him we probably wouldn’t be doing the long ride today as we had planned.
This was fine for everyone because it was a great campsite. And now I had time to fix my wheel.
I had been dreading this repair all night because of the story Todd Johnson has told me several times. That the first time he messed with spoke tension he completely ruined his wheel and had to buy a new one. I pictured myself riding Williams bike with my wheel on the back rack on my way to get a new one from a bike shop.
Thankfully with my dads lessons on spoke tension and wheel trueing and a little help from the internet I was able to fix my wheel in about an hour.
I rode on it today (sept 22) and it worked well so hopefully I don’t have to give another update on my spokes.
At around noon I was sitting on the ground at our campsite which was at the other end of the campground as the office and I notice the camp host wheeling a picnic table around on a dollie. About 5 minutes later he brings it up to me and sets it down and said “I thought you might want this since you don’t have chairs” then he proceeded to offer us a ride to Nîmes FR in the morning since he was going there to buy a car. Nîmes was about 500 km away in the direction we were going.
This behavior is normal at Dutch owned campgrounds. They are without a doubt the best in the world.
Anyways, I told him we’d think about the ride and I thanked him for the table and we talked for a bit.
After discussing it with William and Henry we decided that we had been in France a month now and we were getting kind of worried about the cold coming anyways so we decided to take the ride.
I went down to the office and we got our bikes loaded and he told us to meet us there again at 6:30 am the next morning to pack our bags into the truck.
We woke up at 5:00 and got everything from camp gathered into our bags and our hammocks and tents taken down to get ready for the ride. It was a VERY dewy and foggy morning so all of our stuff that got left out was soaked. Luckily for me I covered all my stuff because I was scared of rain so I managed to have mostly dry bags. William pointed out that Henry’s sleeping pad had puddles on it.
We got to Ivo’s car at 6:30 on the dot, got the stuff loaded and pulled out just a few minutes later.
Henry and I slept in the car for a bit and then we woke up and watched as the country side went by us at a speed faster that 15 MPH for the first time in a month and a half.
5 hours later we were in Nîmes. We thanked Ivo and Duncan for giving us a ride and then we went to the Carrefour for some breakfast and got dinner materials.
After the carrefour we biked for 4 hours or so to the town of Avignon. Avignon has a castle surrounding the town. Our campsite is right across the river from it.
I started making our dinner and halfway through I ran out of gas. Luckily, I had another full can we had just bought. Unluckily, this gas can didn’t connect to my stove. Luckily again, the food happened to ready and the loss of gas just saved me from over cooking it. So I got praise for the food but I would’ve gotten criticism.
Tomorrow I’ll have to go to the store and buy some gas that fits correctly onto my MSR Stove.