Sat June 15th.
Re-joining the route. Back on the canal.
I packed up, took some photos and headed out. It felt amazing to be back on the bike. The sun was out and I was barely exerting myself and the bike seemed to be pushing through the countryside at a reasonable pace.
I had to go back to Limoux and drop in on a Lidl to get some food. While I was locking the back wheel I noticed a homeless guy out the front asking for food or money. Some guy went over to him, kneeled down and started talking to him. They were in conversation for about eight minutes like this, before the guy kneeling got up and went inside.
I noticed most other people gave him something, or if not acknowledged him and apologised for not having an offering. I was astonished at how well the French treated their homeless, compared in England for example, where they’re mostly ignored.
When I came out with my supplies, I snaked and gave him some chocolate, carrots and apples. I headed off, got to the other side of Limoux and then realised I had left my lock at Lidl. I headed back, retrieved it and set off again, acknowledging the homeless guy.
The sun continued to shine and the road back to Carcassonne was surrounded by green fields and the odd stone building.
Carcassonne would be the first and only place that I would go through twice on the trip (other than the Calais port and Kit’s house in Barham).
When I got to Carcassonne, it felt very different to the first time round. I didn’t revisit any of the areas I went to before, in the centre, instead I stayed on the historical outskirts in the old part of the city. Up a small hill I visited the castle of Carcassonne. I couldn’t believe I didn’t see it the first time I was here about four weeks ago.
I parked up, ate and then went in for a look around. It seemed to have its own little street with shops, like a tiny town inside the castle walls. I got to the edge and looked out at the view over Carcassonne and imagined what this would be like in the days of its reign. Seeing troops advance towards the castle from far away and hurling arrows at them.
While I was there, outside the castle, I also saw a guy on an electric skateboard (you didn’t need to push). This struck me as one of the coolest things I’d seen, although I could never imagine using one.
I left the city and with a bit of commotion, I located the canal vaguely recognised the part where I entered and got cycling. It was really nice to be back by the water in the sun, shaded by trees and with only cyclists and people to share the path with.
This time round the floor was hard due to the sun and lack of rain. I was grateful as it meant I could ride the rest of the canal out. The first time I was here the rain made the path unusable and I had to leave.
After a few hours, I found my spot by the canal and got down. While unpacking, some blue cheese I’d picked up had leaked, as being kept above fridge temperature had drawn all the liquid out and had resided at the bottom of pannier. I feared that I wouldn’t be able to over get the stink out, but luckily it wasn’t too bad.
Another disaster from the day was a bottle of wine I’d packed in the back rack. I’d always done it before with no failures, but this time, it slipped out before arriving in Carcassonne. I was gutted. My juice for the night gone. I stopped and cleaned up the scene and watched the remaining wine slip to the side of the road and slowly start to dry in the sun.