Capvern to Mane, 41.9 miles 01/07/04

Thursday ?
Maybe a mix up with the dates here! I haven't missed any days with the diary.
Am stuck in Capvern, started to rain during the night, is 09.00 and still raining, hope it clears up soon. Want to get moving, got my motivation back!
Not happy about riding in the rain, drivers visibility not good, my gear stands a good chance of getting soaked and I would rather lose a bit of time looking after it than time sorting it out.
The water washes lots of gravel onto the roads, not good on the downhills and corners and when its wet its not so easy to spot.
Not much to do here! there's a post office and a bar-tabac at the top of the hill from here and thats about it. Looked over the bike last night, tightened everything, straightened the wheels, same for the trailer, so thats already done. Sorted out the route last night too, D117 all the way, so thats done, might have to go and use the tiny pool here, that'll set 'em all nattering! Ha!
Turned cold, gone from 30 + yesterday to maybe 15 today, feet in my sleeping bag to keep warm as my boots STINK!!
Miles on the dial 2386 (roughly) thats including 251 miles before I set off.
French family just parked their caravan 2' away across the front of my tent! All the space here and they choose that! now he's washing his van. Said "Bonjour Monseiur" and he answered in french and was surprised when I said I'm English, my accent must be improving, or maybe its the tan.
Talking of accents, Ive learned the tiny bit of french I know in places all across France, and I'm trying to imagaine how I would react if a frenchman spoke to me, with little english, and in accents from all over England, It must be amusing for them.
Finally stopped raining at about 11.30 - 12.00. Packed up and left still glancing at the sky! No worries, mostly flat raods and a fair wind got me 18/20 mph most of the time. D938 to Barthe de Neste to Montrieau, N117 to Mane. Couple of small hills, worst up into St Gaudens, one way roads again closed in tight by high walls and a high kerb, plenty of cars and glass on the road. Beauchalot to Montsaures on backroads D69, follows the railway, industrial but good.
Crossed the Garonne again today, is this the same river I saw before? is small and fast here, low at the moment, but can see the power here, looking at the bleached dead trees wedged against the bridge, and the large rocks all rolled smooth.
Is nice around here, not "pretty" nice or friendly nice, just relaxed, semi-rural, a little battered and scruffy in places, but in appealing way. All the houses need painting, most need re-rendering, mural type signs painted on walls all faded and chipped, a sort of careworn, lived-in feel to the towns and villages here, not all tarted up for tourists.
Dented cars don't seem to get fixed here, better things to do I suppose. The shops shut at 12ish and re open at 2/3ish. Priorities are different here. People speak to each other as a matter of course, respect and politeness taken for granted, its the norm here, even for strangers. A handshake and a smile gets a warm greeting every time! An attempt to speak french, even if atrocious, wins the day.
Nobody shouting, have not seen anybody in a foul mood, no one shouting at kids, not seen any badly behaved kids yet! Was in the queue at "La Poste" in Bagneres when a small boy about 3 or 4 ran through the queue and jumped onto the chair for the internet connection, his mother was mortified, and ALL the people in the queue tutting and quietly and gently telling him off. No Hysterics, no swearing or raised voices, just a communal "calm down lad". Wouldn't happen like that in England. Same on the camp sites (most of them have kids) a sort of extended responsibility, even if the kid isn't theirs, the parents say thank you and the kids listen, that wouldn't happen in England either.
Got another "Bon Courage" today as I left the site at lunch time, from a total stranger that I had only said hello to the day before.
41.97 miles in 3 hours 06mins riding time.



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