Thursday

Mane to Foix, 48.6 miles 02/07/04

OK. Seen a lot today, and this is probably all out of order for the day's riding (earliest stuff first etc).
Broke my speed record today.
Had this bike for about 3 years and today got 34mph on a long staight downhill, got a shimmy going, had to stand on the pedals, lean back trap the saddle between my legs and brace up, scary, but a new record :)) (15/20km west of Foix).

Donkey milk for sale at the side of the road west of Foix at Castelnau Durban on the D117. Whilst looking at the WWOOF website for organic farmers I saw an advert for a place claiming to be the only one in France selling donkey milk, if they are the only ones, then I passed them today! Donkey milk, I ask you! Would you??

Foix


Pyrennean foothills around Foix

Have been seeing posters all day advertising Montagne Art by Jacques Degeilh, I thought it was for an exhibition somewhere, till I was approaching Foix. About 10km west, on another long uphill, I came around a corner and in both fields on both sides of the road were dozens of round bales, each one was being 'pushed' by a statue of a man, lifesize. Made of chicken wire and staw, Superb! shoulders down and working away.
Put my uphill struggle into perspective!
Long long downhill into Foix.
What a place!!
An almost subtropical valley in the middle of the most Beautiful hills.
Banana plants/trees growing in gardens, Palms etc, through the town and is market day on Fridays (today).
Big market here, amazing mix of people. All races, all sizes, all fashions, midgets to Giants, colour everywhere. I really like this place.
Been seeing signs all across France for E.LECLERC, wondered what is was all about, they're everywhere, I found out today, its the biggest supermarket I have ever seen, sells everything from bicycle tyres to hamster food, HUGE (Montgaillard).
Something from yesterday. All the way across France I have only seen 1 other solo cyclist, carrying his own gear, that was just outside Limoges. Yesterday I saw 3, I must be on the right road! One was a recubmant, outside a supermarket, looked a lot more comfortable than mine and I'm obviously not the only one eating from supermarkets. Good to know! Parked next to it and went in to try 'spot the cyclist', didn't work, and he/she was gone when I came out, will wait outside if it happens again.
Saw another pass by on the road past a MacDonalds, yes I'm in France and eating Mac Junk in the carpark (they have Ice milk shakes and its hot here!) The other one was on the road, lifted his hand and 'bonjour' but looked very nervous, maybe new to it, newer than me anyway.
Back to today, St Girons is a mess, just like being in England.
Litter everywhere on the sides of the road, graffitti, even on the graveyard walls. They are all walled in here, tiny cemeteries, no Church, lots of flowers and photos. That town spoils this road, its mostly flat and level, with an average to good surface, well engineered and contoured, and all the while the Pyrennees on my right hand side, ranks of mountains one after another, and I'm on the flat and level. Ha!
Can't get over this place, as you approach down the hill are several parking spots with views worth a million dollars, look for the strange small (in comparison) spike of a hill in the middle of the valley, this campsite is just past it.
In England the mountains lead to valleys, then back up to another mountain, glaciated, ordered, predictable. Not here, they're all jumbled together, and the road winds its way between them. A new view around every corner. stone looks like limestone and the trees show well agaist it, a good mix.
Route today Mane to Foix, D117, easy!

48.61 miles in 3 hours 50 mins riding time.
3 police stood at the side of the road, casually watching traffic, no squad car. Round hats and ironed to perfection, the middle one spotted me and looked to be in shock, pointed and turned to his mate, but I was past and kept moving, amusing!
At the last campsite I noticed the French couple in the caravan next to me had a birdcage hanging in a tree over their dinner table (they all eat outdoors at about 19.30, watching each other), the bird in the cage, which was about 10" x 12" x 12" was a Robin! WHY???

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Good luck with your own journey.
Thanks for visiting,
Rob.