After a hard day of cycling, I thought I would have a nice relaxing night at the top of a hill and cracked open a bottle of wine and watched a movie on my laptop. I sleepily rolled out my camping mat and sleeping bag in between the grapevines and lay down “under the stars” (clouds) before drifting off. I woke up not long after though, from little raindrops hitting off my face. I grunted and reluctantly pulled myself out of my cosy sleeping bag to get the tent off my bike. However, I was too tired to set it up, so I just lay underneath it. But after a while the rain picked up and I begrudgingly had to set it up properly, clambered inside and fell back asleep. My slumber didn’t last long. The wind picked up to a gale and before long my tent fell apart and I was left with it ferociously flapping off my face, my body being the only thing stopping it from flying back to Switzerland. One last time, I got up and bared the torrents to set up my tent, properly this time – the ground now a pool of mud instead of the hard rock it had been before. I got back in my tent and looked at my watch to see that it was 6:30am, I’d had basically no sleep and it was nearly time to leave.
I picked the wrong night to drink a bottle of wine.
I packed everything up, now soaked and started cycling out. I never got far though. The road I had come in on, which happened to be the only road, was now covered in about a foot of mud and I couldn’t even cycle through it. So I squelched my way through, dragging my bike along and wrecking a pair of shoes in the process.
I found a stone hut down the hill, still warm inside from the previous day’s sunshine, so I unrolled my sleeping bag on top of an abandoned door on the ground and fell straight back asleep. I woke up about 1pm and began cycling again, but it was no fun. The wind was relentless and blowing in completely the other direction. Today is the type of day that puts people of cycle touring for life.
Not a bad view though. And within a few kilometres I stumbled across this group of lovely people.
They are cycling from Montpellier to Barcelona over two weeks. And I was glad to hear that I wasn’t the only one that experienced the crap weather. They too had slept out and had to unwillingly set up their tents in the middle of the night. I spent the next hour or so cycling with them toward Carcassonne and eventually found myself joining them and three other cyclists in their group, Simone, Sophie and Alisandra at the camp site there.
We sat eating and drinking by our tents before deciding, rather late, to go and get some food in the town. We were treated to massive salads and paninis just before midnight from the friendly staff in a quiet bar. Afterwards we took a rather drunken adventure on our bikes up to the castle to find that it contained everything you would need as a king: shops, restaurants, even a bank; but most importantly a bar.
It’s nice to know that often, you’re not the only one having a bad day on your bike. Though where I am going next, I doubt there’s many touring cyclists.