|Distance||115.78 kms||72.08 miles|
|Climbed||313 meters||1,027 feet|
|Ride time (hours)||7.32||-|
|Avg speed||15.82 kph||-|
|Distance||246.43 kms||152.86 miles|
|Climbed||827 meters||2,713 feet|
|Ride time (hours)||16.00||-|
Thursday, March 9th, 2017
I roll out of the tent at 7am. Packed up and on the road a little before 8. It's cold this morning, maybe 5 degrees (41 Fahrenheit), I'm all bundled up to start the day. A very muddy towpath is waiting for me. I slog my way through it for 10 kilometers before I get tired of it and get on the road. I need a coffee as well.
I find a café in Bram. I don't know if it's really that good or I'm just thrilled to be drinking something warm, but I thoroughly enjoy the coffee. I chat with the two women working there until another woman comes in crying, she just found out that a friend of hers' son was killed in a car crash. I quietly pay and leave to let the others console her.
The good news about riding on the road is that I avoid the mud. The bad news is that I've got no cover from the wind which is still blowing hard (up to 50kph) from the northwest. I putter along, rarely getting over 15kph. I'm thrilled to finally make it to Castelnaudary; I stop for an excellent baguette (not cheap at €1.30) and an early lunch break.
After Carcassonne the canal towpath has a better surface and is therefore less muddy. Unfortunately there is another work crew chopping down platane trees so I'm off on another 5k detour through the fields next to the canal. When I do manage to get back on it, I'm on the towpath for the rest of the day. The path is paved starting at the border of the Haute-Garonne department, from here on out I will be on pavement until I leave the canal in Moissac probably tomorrow afternoon. The speed picks up on the pavement, in spite of the wind. The traffic picks up as well the closer I get to Toulouse, lots of cyclists on road bikes, dog walkers, people just out for a stroll on this beautiful spring day.
In Toulouse I stop at a supermarket -- the same one near the canal that I always stop at -- to stock up on supplies for tonight. On my way out of the city I see that the camps of SDFs ("sans domicile fixe" = homeless people) on the banks of the Canal latéral à la Garonne have grown ever larger. It seems they've grown by half every time I come through here. In some spots the towpath has become an obstacle course to get around junk, dogs, and people spilling over from the camps.
It's getting late and I'm starting to bonk. I keep my eye out for a campsite but it takes some kilometers to get past the urban sprawl of Toulouse. I stop for a break next to a pond, look around a bit, then decide this is a great place to set up the tent. I used to be quite careful about hiding when I wild camped but I'm getting less paranoid in my old age. People will know I'm here, they can see me from the canal path and a few walkers have even come right along the pond, but I'm too tired to worry about it. I wait until dusk then set up the tent and make dinner. I'm treated to a nice sunset on the pond.