|Distance||75.70 kms||47.22 miles|
|Climbed||329 meters||1,079 feet|
|Ride time (hours)||6.15||-|
|Avg speed||12.3 kph||-|
|Distance||130.65 kms||81.40 miles|
|Climbed||514 meters||1,686 feet|
|Ride time (hours)||8.68||-|
Wednesday, March 8th, 2017
I don't get an early start this morning, by design, because the weather reports say the rain in Carcassonne isn't going to break until the afternoon. I use the time to make myself a properly huge breakfast (sausage and mushroom omelet) and double check all my gear. It's been a while since I've camped with the bicycle and I have a nagging feeling that I'm going to forget something important. The bike is fully loaded when I'm done. I'm guessing I've got 25 kilos between the two rear panniers and rack bag, not including food and water. I weigh the pros and cons of taking the laptop: there will be down time when I'm staying with my friends, but it's heavy and bulky... it makes the cut.
I have a coffee next to the canal in Narbonne before setting off through the Corbières hills to the west. The wind is blowing strong this morning, about 70 kph according to the weather reports. That plus the weight of the camping gear on the bike makes for a slow morning.
Once on the canal I'm away from the traffic, riding on dirt roads or a muddy single-track. No boats are moving on the canal this time off year, I have it all to myself except for the occasional dog walker.
They've been chopping down large quantities of the platane trees that line the canal for years now, the first time I saw them was about 2011. The trees are sick with a disease called "chancre coloré". They are replanting with a mix of different kinds of trees: poplar, fir, birch, oak, etc... but it will be many years before they are tall enough for the canal to regain its former atmosphere of shady oasis. Several times I have to detour on roads or through muddy fields to get around the work crews that are chopping down the trees. Between the detours, the wind, and the mud I arrive in Carcassone much later than I had anticipated. I stock up on some supplies for dinner in the city then keep my eyes out for a place to camp as soon as I get outside of the city to the north.
Around 5pm I find a good-looking spot with flat ground that appears isolated, up on an embankment just out of sight of the canal. I change clothes and wait for sunset to set up the tent. It will not be warm tonight, I'm already bundled up when the sun goes down. I'm cooking dinner when an extremely loud alarm starts beeping. It scares the shit out of me; I almost knock dinner off of the stove. The train tracks are only 100 meters away and it turns out that they are set up with alarms to warn of oncoming trains... I'm thinking this campsite is going to suck if that goes on all night. I don't understand exactly what these alarms are for, there is no road crossing here and they only go off for certain trains, plenty pass with nary a whisper. Lucky for me they stop around 9pm so I'm able to get a good nights sleep.