Stage 19: Maubourguet to Bergerac (208.5 km)
With the mountains behind us and Paris in our sights we had an ‘all downhill to the finish’ feeling this morning which turned out to be a bit optimistic. Although categorised as ‘flat’, and described by the Guardian’s William Fotheringham as ‘not super-demanding’, (I’ll bet he hasn’t ridden it….), today’s stage was actually pretty tough going. It was constantly undulating and the climbs, although short, were sometimes steeper than yesterday’s mountain roads. And it was hot – 32 degrees C or so.
We started the day as usual, with a cheery wave from the men in the direction arrow van – we know each other pretty well now! I was keen to blag a few more arrows for our collection, (don’t laugh – they are very sought after), and today the chaps were handing them out all over the place. There was a farmer waiting to come out of a side road with some hay and the arrow man posted an arrow on the spike at the front of his tractor.
A big thank you to Mark Gough for providing this week’s back-up support. He was plunged in at the deep end with driving in the Pyrenees and he’s been great, (apart from the time he nearly knocked one of us off our bikes…).
We are back in wine-growing landscape – very scenic, and on the last climb into Montbazilliac I recognised a hotel/restaurant where I had once had a great meal, (many holidays ago).
Did make it to our own hotel tonight but not sure how much sleep we’ll get as there is a massive outdoor cinema screen in the field opposite which is showing ‘How to Tame your Dragon 2’ with maximum volume audio to a huge audience of children, (at 11.30pm!). Must be the school holidays. Enjoyed a fabulous ‘menu terroir’ in the restaurant earlier though – my first taste of ‘razor fish’.
Ali is coming out to join me in Paris for the weekend so there may be a hiatus in the blog depending on her access to wi-fi – will hope to post a ‘Grand Arrivee’ message!