Mum and Dad have arrived at their hotel! Just as night was closing in they finally found their bed for the night just outside of Castre. Slack route planning had put them in the hideous situation of going around in circles for a couple of hours – really not what you need after riding a monster 214 km day, with an epic 3,000 meters of climbing, including your biggest climb of the trip so far.
And all they’re munching on for dinner this evening is an apple pie and a banana! They would eat better on a yoga retreat with buddhist monks for goodness sakes. Oh for some brown rice! Oh for some veg! It seems everything (yes, everything) closes in France on a Sunday. They couldn’t even find a beer!
On the plus side Mum was completely ecstatic and forgot about the day’s hardship and the meager dinner as… the HOTEL HAS A BATH!! Yes. Every epic enduro-tandem rider’s dream is to ease weary aching limbs in a swirl of warm water. Let’s just hope the hotel hasn’t given its boiler a day of rest too.
All in all though, the Laker pair were in excellent spirits with less than 200 miles to go to reach us here in Girona. On the descents Dad boasted of reaching speeds of 62 kmph (which would probably have been 72 kmph if Mum would relinquish her control of the rear disk brake). Speeds which were swiftly offset by climbing speeds which maxed out at 5 kmph.
Dad made the most shocking revelation off all this evening though… (yes, more shocking than accidentally riding on a road where bicycles are banned, oops)… they didn’t stop for a break or eat anything at all until they had covered 90 km! 90!! Yes, 90! At tandem pace that was probably near 4 hours flat out riding. How on earth do they do it?! Even the most hardened long-distance pedaler would have at least crammed a gel into his gaping mouth by then. But my parents? Nada. Nothing. Not even a jelly baby.
The secret of their long-distance success? A very large breakfast apparently.
Mum and Dad hit what constituted their first major dilemma of the ride – a large sign saying the French equivalent of ‘Route Barrier 8 km’ right in the middle of their chosen road. The map showed a 10 mile diversion. Inquiries to locals about the state of the road revealed no useful information about its tandem-worthy-ness (probably something to do with my parents complete lack of French beyond ‘vin’ and ‘cafe’). They gambled and rode on. The road basically didn’t exist, but they soldiered on through the mess on foot and made it through.
At 30 km to go, with the end tantalizingly in sight and with temperatures at a tropical 29 degrees, Mum and Dad ran out of water. A cyclist with no water is kaput. Nada. Nothing. Not even a jelly baby will save them. When all looked lost they found an open bar! They shuffled in in their lycra, glowing with sunburn and most likely with vision blurred as a result of mild dehydration. Through the gloom they saw a bar full of Muslim men, in full traditional dress. All exchanged funny looks. Mum and Dad brought the liquid contents of the fridge (no beer here) and swiftly shuffled back out onto the tandem.
A few hours after that they made it to the hotel and as I finish writing this, I can only hope that the bath water was hot, that the apple pie was France’s finest, and that tomorrow they are faced with yet another humungous breakfast.
Allez, allez, allez! Not long to go now!
N.b. For those who are wondering, Jenny and Barry (Lee’s lovely parents) completed their own epic bike ride! Hurrah! News just in though is that Jenny has been struck down with gastroenteritis… a highly contagious, highly horrible stomach bug. Please please please, everyone cross fingers and/or pray that Jenny has a speedy recovery and that my parents wont be met with a bathroom ridden Comerford-Laker wedding party on Tuesday…