First week with the truck, and all’s well

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July 23rd 2018
Published: July 24th 2018
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After parking on the descent of the Col de Bisanne with the truck, I was then able to actually park on the climb of the Col de Madeleine. This wasn’t easy as I was late to the party, in terms of Tour parking, as some of these motorhomers get to a named climb well in advance, but my ace is the truck. Where these big lumps of plastic need a bit of space, I just need a car parking space so long as it’s got grass/dirt to peg into. But, this being said, I can’t be too picky, otherwise I’ll end up without a place, so opposite a set of road works, there was a dirt lay-by that was long, but just wide enough for my truck. The downside was the angle I was parked at, oh and the shear drop to the side. That night there was a storm nearby, but rather than getting wet, the winds picked up, and unpegged my room. At first I tried to ignore it, but eventually the noise got too Much, so I went to sort it, while being very mindful of the drop, which seemed far more scary in the dark, when you can’t see the bottom. Though to be honest, even in the daylight when I could see the bottom, it was such a shear drop down, it was still scary.

The next morning I found cars and a few motor homes had managed to park in front of me further up, and the road workers arrived just to start up the noisey bastard generator. But after a couple of hours they had switched it off and started a BBQ. This where I meet Jason and his brother Adam, who decided to have a rest from there cycle up the climb next to me, and that’s where they stayed till it was all over. Where it had been windy that night for me, they had had the rain and lightning! Got to say it was a pleasant change to have a friendly conversation, rather than just being stared at by nosey old French couples. Saying this, I will just add, that not all the French are like this, as some would actively try to make conversation about my camping setup or the race, but my lack of French either made a comical moment, or soon put an end to the conversation. At this place on the stage, I managed to get a full range of French channels on the TV, so could actually watch the race heading for me, until the news came on. Then later, after most people had left, I managed to find the race again but on a different channel. Unfortunately 5 minutes after this, the workers started the generator up again. This didn’t bother me at first as the commentary is in a language I don’t understand, but then the general racket was too much so I packed up and left.

My next view point was just a random point along the route of the next stage, in the middle of nowhere, so I expected to see no one. But no, by 8am, I had a bunch of cars and families all around me. What this means, is that when the promo caravan goes through, the best I’m going to get is a few pictures, as the kids AND old folk, will knock you out for the freebies! Seriously they go nuts for the tacky shit that gets thrown at them. It was also here that the Gendarmerie arrived in at least twenty cars and vans, which at first, I'll admit was a tad unnerving, but once they had dropped an officer off to guard the junction opposite, they all drove off. Another funny thing about this, was when a couple of motorhomes stopped at the same place, the traffic were on their horns within seconds, but when the police block up the road, silence. As soon as the last of the riders had passed me, I began packing up, because by the time I was ready, most of the cars had gone, and the roads are open again.

My next stop was a bit further away this time, but it was the travelling time to get there that was going to be a problem. This was due to the fact I didn’t want to stick the deflectors to my headlights, or pitch the tent in the dark. On this climb, it wasnt the motorhomes taking up the parking, as it had all been taped off, so I ended up on the descent instead. At first I had a lay-by all to myself, but in the middle of the night, a motorhome woke me up, as he revved his engine to get it up on to his levelling ramps, and had his hazards flashing throughout, till he switched the engine off. This and the raging storm I was under, made for an interesting night. For example, I always believed that for every second between a lightning flash and it’s thunder, was a mile, but it turns out that it’s actually 330 odd metres! So every time I didn’t count to at least 5, meant that it was bloody close! (2 was the closest it ever got)

Again by 8am, I was surrounded by cars and families. Now, the problem I have about this, is the fact I can’t have a lie in, at all, because if I don’t get up early to take a dump and get washed, I will have an audience. Yes I am inside a room under the tent which is private, to a degree, from a distance, but not when they're walking right past the tent, as there are gaps, due to the tent being square and the truck not. That and the smell from the portaloo is bad enough for me, being my own shit, but god knows what it would be like to others walking past. Though on a plus it might make them park elsewhere, (yeah right).

This time I guess I packed up too quick, as the traffic had blocked me in. Even when I was able to force a gap and go in the opposite direction, it was only a mile or so before I was stuck in a traffic jam. It was also here I got taken all over the show by the sodding sat nav. I take it since the speed limit change in France, and the latest update, it now sees little side roads as fast routes, even putting me back on to main roads I had just turned off of! Typically, this was the day I had to cover nearly 200 miles to the next stage. After this, the stages are all relatively close. Though the irony of this, was, my next stop after this stage, was 22 miles to a campsite I was staying at for the rest day. Yet it took a ridiculous amount of time to get there, by which time the reception was closed.


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