Day 11. Just a relaxing 72 miles. (Wednesday 8th October)

Today Total
Distance 72 miles 795 miles (1280km)
Height gain 590 metres 10382 metres (34062ft)
Calories 2500 30500

After the unexpected physical exhaustion of the last three days I planned a short 40 mile cycle over a last couple hills from the pretty town of Cahors to Montauban after which it should be quite flat. The hills would be quite tough but given the past three days the combined 400 metre climb would seem a lot easier. The hills are slowly killing my gears though and now I believe I’m on a wing and a prayer as to whether they will survive the journey to Andorra or break completely. I can feel the cogs constantly slipping and barely griping/engaging which doesn’t bode well for a climb over the Pyrenees, but I have decided, if they do break completely by not engaging and I get within 20 miles of the border I’m walking the bike up. It will be hard work but so far I’ve cycled about 780 miles (1260km) and with a little over 100 more to go, it’s mentally too close to quit. Actually, that’s one surprising thing, my actual distance if I complete the challenge will be about 100 miles shorter than the “google” suggested route I’d found before setting off….. and the reason? This idiot didn’t have a terrain map and cycled through one of the hilliest part of France! The reason it’s so hilly is because the Pyrenees push France from the south and the Alps from the east and the effect is like pushing on a carpet from two sides, lots of bumps in the middle! It turns out that geeks at Google knew this and avoided all of the bumps! Smart arses!

Cycling past the medieval bridge at Cahors and up the first hill of the day one of the strange things which seems to happen in France when cycling happened again. While cycling up a hill, cars coming in the opposite direction occasionally toot their horns at me, shout and wave, I think it’s friendly as they can’t believe someone on a butchers bike is up there, but after the first day in France where I had been tooted at for cycling on a “car only” road I’m not too sure anymore. No one is sticking a finger up like they would back home so I guess that’s ok?

So after climbing the two hills I entered a warm and quite pleasant Montauban. It was 2pm in what was now a baking 28 degrees, an amazing 20 degrees centigrade higher than it was a couple of days ago, but apart from extreme thirst, I didn’t feel tired as after the last three days of extreme hill climbing, apart from the final couple of hills this morning it had all been relatively easy. So I sat down and looked at google maps to see where I was. Mmmmm, Toulouse was just 35 miles away…..

GPS showing the end of the three and a half day hill climbing…..

Another look at the map showed me that I could do 20 of those miles along a canal…. I figured I needed some flat boring terrain although the bike probably needs it more than I! But I’d forgotten about the headwind and it turned out to be 20 miles of pain into a really strong wind again which practically stopped me on the odd occasion…. It’s starting to get a bit annoying again and the god of wind must have felt his ears burning after a few particularly big gusts…. But I’m now in Toulouse although with a sunburnt left wrist! It appears that I must have forgotten to put sun block on that bit, I couldn’t tell with the wind. I decided to stop just north of the city tonight as it was rush hour, and given my experience of northern Paris and the north of other large towns in France, I didn’t want to go through that again.

For more detail on route click HERE.

(© google maps)