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Published: July 19th 2009
Saturday 18th July - Salon La Tour to Carcassonne
Spent a couple of hours this morning in Uzerche, initially at some auto-retro jumble before ambling around the rather pleasant town. Not really into car boot sales myself, but some of the stuff on sale was amazing. The town deserved more pictures than are posted up on the blog, but uploading photos is slooow and as pretty as Uzerche was it was never going to compete with La Cite of Carcassonne for photographic brilliance.
I set off late from Salon La Tour, 3 pm, but it had been nice to chill out for a while. The journey to Carcassonne was about 300km (I think), so not too far. I had to be at the camp site before 8 pm. Easy-peasy, till you figure in the summer Saturday traffic on the autoroutes and quite possibly the biggest queue for petrol I have ever been in near Brive - 30 minutes. So I had to keep a steady pace - the bike was fine sat at 90mph (at a ton, it's like sitting on a washing machine at the end of its lifespan) and I finally have sorted the noise issue. To complement
my Schubert helmet purchased in Hamburg I have custom made earplugs (ultimate ear) and what must look like the most anal riding position imaginable - bolt upright like some wannabe sergeant major. The reason for the latter is I have some damaged disc or something in my neck (probably from the car crash apparently) which I am supposed to get (another) MRI scan on, but I delayed it till after the trip - just packing a pannier load of painkillers. Anyway it presses on a nerve and is well uncomfortable - slouching in the seat is not an option. The upshot of looking like some sneering idiot is that my head is fractionally above the turbulent air coming off the fairing and a damn sight quieter for it.
The journey was largely uneventful save for a ferocious cross wind. Vent violent - as the signs on the autoroute so helpfully reminded you. My helmeted head resembling some nodding dogs head so de rigueur in the front of transits and back of escorts everywhere. Either the bike weighed a ton and was thus more stable (quite likely) or I had become competent piloting it in a strong wind (unlikely.) Either
way it had no detrimental effect on my speed. One thing I have done this trip is crank up the pre-load - or suspension sag for non-bike geeks. This is simplicity itself on the beemer. It is just a knob on the side of the bike - they even give you a tool to turn it with for weak types, but you can turn it comfortably with your hand. Brilliantly simple. On the ZX6, there is some horrible adjustment under the seat that requires strange looking tools, so unsurprisingly it has remained on the stock setting since I bought the bike 7+ years ago. Anyway maybe it is psychosomatic but it feels better to me tightened up under full load.
I made it to the well signposted camp site, about 7:15 pm, checked in and set up camp. It is very close to La Cite and there is a pleasant stream-side walk from the site to La Cite. The evening light was glorious and bathed the walled city in a warm glow - very photogenic. Having read of the hordes inside I was relieved to find it was relatively quiet - probably the best time to go. But the
guides are right, the spectacle is most impressive from outside. It is OK inside, but the main eating square was an unpleasant menagerie and there was a Best Western hotel shortly after entering within the walls. What tosser allowed that? Presumably some ex-pat town planner from Basingstoke or Bracknell - the French usually exude more style than that. I found a quietish cafe on one of the routes to the square and settled down for some cassoulet - the region's most famous dish. It was a calming place and I felt completely chilled - of course the two pitchers of wine may have had something to do with it. But I was far happier here watching some local kids play football under a tree and the passers by, than being Mr Conspicuous-Billy-No-Mates with the madding crowd of the square.
Last night I decided that as compelling as Carcassonne was for a visit it did not warrant an extended stay and I resolved to head to the Pyrenees (probably Andorra) in the morning. It is now 11:20 am as I write this and I have 40 minutes to pack up the tent and exit. Not very likely, so I will stay
tonight as well and go for a spin on the bike - far more relaxing, this is suppose to be a holiday after all. Narbonne is only 60km away - I may even take in the square with Narbonne, Perpignan and Quillan as the other three corners. Dunno yet - till later...
Tot: 2.51s; Tpl: 0.057s; cc: 10; qc: 49; dbt: 0.0378s; 2; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb