Hello to everyone from Carrcasone, France.
Well to say we have had some interesting times since our last update would be an understatement, where to start??
I think we left you in Florence where we did our usual Odyssey things, laundry, Internet, bike cleaning, sleeping and with what little discretionary time we had sightseeing. The weather was not cooperative but in spite of the drizzle and cold we managed to get much accomplished.
We have become indoors campers as the weather and the campgrounds have been less than optimum. Some have been good but others have meant a population density close to that encountered in Bombay, India, 8 tents per campsite. The cynic in me thinks it is all a ploy to save a couple of francs per day. Breakfast on our departure from Florence was truly memorable; you rode down a hill that you had to ride up again only to be faced with sporadic food supplies and the usual feeding frenzy only an Odyssey 2000 rider can appreciate. I had to apologize to a fellow rider as I found myself coveting a basket of bread, what a sorry state!!!!
We left Florence for Pisa with clouds to start, then a steady downpour for the remainder of the day. The ride was flat but the rain sure made it a drag, the place we stopped for lunch did not seem to mind our dripping on their floor. The fight for accommodations in a hotel found us sharing a room with another couple, we sure felt sorry for those in the pouring rain. The tower is still leaning and it is a sight to behold.
The next morning we woke up to more rain so Susan & Hewes Agnew and ourselves decided a train to Genoa was in order, getting two tandems on and off trains is interesting to say the least, not all trains accept a bike which further complicated matters.
Spent an extra day in Genoa where we ran into one of the riders who had decided to ride from Pisa to the camping day before Genoa, she relayed her tearful experience at the top of a killer climb in the rain and fog and a day longer than she needed. The ride also took its toll on one of the stronger riders, he crossed the center line and ended up as a hood ornament on a car, compound fracture of the leg and a fractured C7 vertebrae resulted.
Our departure from Genoa was uneventful and the train ride to Menton went well arriving late in the evening hoping to meet up with the group the next morning as this was to be a layover day. Up the next morning to thunder, lightning and rain the size of golf balls. Imagine our surprise to find out from a couple of other lost souls that the group had to bypass Menton and were now in Nice, why you ask? The insurance on the gear trucks had lapsed and they could not be moved!!! Apparently it was known by the organizers a couple of days before but they decided to keep it quiet. They cut the locks off the lockers, bagged any loose luggage and moved it to Nice, people where bused to Nice arriving late at night after being without clean clothes for a couple of days. Mary and I, as well as the Agnews were happy we had taken some time off; I think my blood pressure could not handle this latest fiasco.
Trained to Nice, found the group, collected our luggage, took a taxi to the hotel we had been assigned to and had a couple of days in Nice, nice unexpected layover at TK&A expense.
The luggage now goes into a big truck gets off loaded every night and if you need or have to go off route it is your responsibility to ensure someone puts it back on the truck in the morning otherwise it could get left behind. Discussed with Tim a method of identifying luggage not to be removed but he would not hear of it as he felt it was to much trouble for him, seems we have to be the flexible ones on this trip. Before the other evening they would not even allow you to put the luggage not needed by the riders back on the truck so as to ensure it did not sit outside in the elements, they finally agreed to a 15 minute window to reload this luggage, how accommodating!!
Our departure from Nice to Port Grimued was not without its trials as it decided to begin raining after about 40km and continued pouring for the balance of an 110km day. The dinner was a great pyea but it did not accommodate the 30+ vegetarians on the ride (we feel sorry for them as it is unusual for them to get a good meal, some are giving up for the balance of the year)
The next morning we were of to Sanary sur Mera 115km ride it was a beautiful day along the coast and for a change the weather cooperated. Dinner was OK and followed a bus ride to the restaurant.
Off to La Crouronne a 102km ride that seemed like a 100 miles, started off with a great breakfast and everyone was upbeat as we thought we were in for a nice easy day, surprise, surprise. Left camp going up hill, then climbed for another 7200+ feet with a head wind so severe that at the summit a number of riders where blown over, great view at the top but very dangerous and unnecessary as we could see a nice road in the valley. We took a picture of the sign warning of the winds and another advising of a 30% grade!!!
The following day saw us on our way to La Grand Motte a 140km day with plenty of sunshine (at last) relatively flat day, strong headwinds but all in all a nice ride. We arrived around 3:30 PM to no gear trucks seems they got lost. The dinner was somewhat suspect as we had some mystery meat accompanied by boiled potatoes (the French chefs must be in tears) desert was a nice apple tart.
The next morning we along with a number of others decided an 185+km day (ended up being 200km) was not in our cards. Rode to Monpellier caught a train and arrived in Carcassone around 10:30AM to enjoy some sightseeing and R&R. Biked out to the campgrounds retrieved our needed luggage and stored the remainder in a tent out of the weather, they took away the trucks preventing us from reloading it out of the weather. There is a rumor we may get the locker trucks back with the insurance paid!! We hope it is more than a rumor...
There is to be a meeting tonight to discuss the next few weeks, we had been requesting meetings on a regular basis and this will be the first in almost 2 months.
Mary and I are feeling better and our time off and a regimen of antibiotics for myself seem to have done the trick, still many riders off sick. The odometer is up to 6500km and the bike is going well but it will require a new paint job.
The adventure continues to evolve and if you would like to get the feeling of a few riders go to www.odyssey2003.com, it doesnt say much but you will get the feel.
So long for now we are hanging in and looking forward to getting back to North America in a couple of weeks.
Dave & Mary