ONLY ONE WEEK LEFT!! Where did that go...?

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July 23rd 2018
Published: July 26th 2018
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The journey to Cabrispine May have been 200 miles, but it had gone smooth, and due to it not raining or being cloudy, it was still light well after 9 pm, so I could pitch easily. The first layby I stopped at, I was unsure about, as it didn’t seem clear enough for me to pitch. Then while I stood pondering, a motorhome full of kids parked up, and reversed pretty much into the back of my truck, so that decided that, and I moved on. The spot I did stop at was perfect, as it was on the inside of a switch back, and was only big enough for my truck. Of course, what I didn’t realise was that above me was another, bigger lay-by, which filled up in the morning. Again I will say that this isn’t a major problem, it’s a public road on a public event, BUT, nothing would be arriving till 3pm, and the race didn’t arrive till 5:30, so why the fuck did they have to be there at 8am on a Sunday fuckin* morning!! (And breathe...)

I packed up in between each group of riders this time, as they were quite far apart, and I knew I had a dead line for the campsite reception. Unfortunately I hadn’t even got to the bottom of the hill before being stuck in traffic. It didn’t help that to get to the campsite I would be driving the rest of todays stage, all the way to the city it finished in, along with all the traffic that goes with the tour. In hindsight, I should have chosen a campsite nearer to me, but I'd been to this one on the Pyrenees trip, so knew what to expect. I arrived at the place 10 minutes after reception had closed, so had to go walk about to find someone. It was also pizza night, and even though I was so so tempted, I decided to finish off the pack of sausages I had been carrying since England. Unlike the last time I was there, it was now the summer holidays, so it was full of families and the entertainment was on that night, all of 100 metres from my pitch.

But i got a good sleep and the next morning was able to catch up with all the jobs I had been holding off till I got there, including getting a long warm shower, and the essential, but gross job, of dealing with the bog. While I was there I managed to empty the trucks colostomy bottle of oil, which was so dark and merky, I didn’t bother putting it back in, esspecially as I had plenty of fresh oil. I also had to cable tie the pipe in to the bottle, as at one point on the journey it had popped out of the bottle, leading me to think I had knocked the bottle (now half full of used oil), off on one of the many many new speed bumps the French have put into every town.

All packed and all jobs completed, I made a leasurely trip to the supermarket, for food and drinks, then headed for the next stage. The journey to the next stop, once I was off the motorway, was unbelievably stunning! Just like the trip through the Pyrenees in June, you were met with mind blowing views around every corner. This time I decided I would try my luck on a proper named climb, the Col de Mente, hoping I’d be lucky. And I was, but only just, all I had to do was keep going up and up with the mindset, if I couldn’t park on the climb, I’d just find somewhere on the descent or after. I’ll be honest, there were a couple of places that would have been ok at the bottom where it was flat, but I held my nerve and continued on towards the climb, and then drove up, passing switch back after switch back, most of which needed first gear to get around. Eventually with only half a mile left I dived in where a motor home had given up, due to being too fat. The down side to where I’m parked, is the tarmac goes slightly under my truck so I've had to peg the room from the inside, which makes it a slightly awkward shape, but it works. Oh and theres shear drop on the other side, hence the motorhome moving on.

Another downside to parking on a named climb, is the type of crowds it attracts. Being camped next to a road you expect traffic to go past, and this i'm used to, but, being an event, you then get those who decide to hit their horns as they drive past, of shout as they go, well into the night. Being I'm surrounded by others, I just put ear plugs in and thats that, I'm usually then out for the count. But, when I'm parked on my own, there is always that nagging thoughts of "what was that noise?" "Was that someone outside the truck?". Every time so far its just been paranoia playing mind games, as no one has ever so much as touched the truck in the night, but I still make sure I leave nothing out, and that the truck is locked up with nothing of value on show.

That evening during dinner, a police car parked next to me and spoke to the guy parked behind me. Of course, I have no idea what was said, but the car is now parked 5 metres away from me. At first I thought that they were going to shift us before the race, but no, if anything, more have arrived this morning. After the race had passed me, I carried on watching the movie I'd started after the caravan had passed, in the hope that after a good hour, the roads would be clear, but no. Again I barely made it down the mountain before getting stuck. This meant the drive to Garin was painfully slow, and just like the last twenty odd mile journey during this tour, it took the longest time possible. I think I only managed around 5 miles without traffic jams. The main reason for this, was that I was again heading for the finish town, which was also tomorrows start, and the road I was on after, would be tomorrows stage. So every motorhome was crawling along it in the hope of finding a space to park, or, was holding up traffic while they attempted to park. After 3 miles of this I came across a couple of fields that had been opened up to motorhomes. At first I wanted to avoid such a place, but then realised that the queue wasn’t going to just vanish, so I pulled in and parked under some trees to cool down. Well I say I pulled in, it was more a case of me saying “stuff it” then driving off the road and down an embankment into the field. Though the shade was nice for me, it did mean the panel couldn’t do its job, so I’ve now killed the battery, and upset the fridge. For some reason, its showing random temperature readouts, so I don’t know if it still works or not. In truth, this doesn’t effect me too much, as there’s not a lot of food that can go off in it, and I only have to survive two more nights. I’ll keep it plugged in while I drive in the hope that it will be happy again when the battery is back to normal. I’ve also found out the TV will continue to work when the battery is dead, until the voltage get so low, the sound stops.

As well as free parking in Garin, they had also organised a small concert which went on quite late, but as I had got so tired, I just put the ear plugs in and I was gone. Well until the damn things fell out. In the morning, I did my usual of planing my next stop, and discovered that the stage after is closer than tomorrows. This meant I had to change where I was hoping to stop, from near the end of the stage, to near the start. Mileage wise there’s only 30 miles in it, but rather than having to double back, I’ll only be an hour away from my final stop. Over the last week, I have been undecided about the final stage, which is on the Saturday, as part of me really wants to watch it, but this would mean driving partly through the night and most of Sunday, probably into the afternoon, just to make it in time for the final stage in Paris. Yes it’s possible, but it would mean I’d be knackered by the time the Paris stage starts. So I’ve decided that if the stop on the Col de Aspin is nice enough, I’ll just stay there for an extra night. This means I can get most of the 500 miles to Paris done on Saturday, leaving Sunday morning to deal with Paris itself.

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