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Day 12, Route Barree

Sit rep on waking up.

Kit not quite dry, especially the socks, so more application of hairdryer to try and give them a burst of warmth. I can imagine my strategy of the daily wash working earlier in the year, but I have to admit, now being so late in the season, this is one of my ideas that isn't working. Will just have to smell.

I seemed to have acquired a slight sore throat and tickly cough. Nothing too serious, but not feeling 100%. So having got over the bad back and saddle sore, I'm back on full medication. As the Vaseline seems to have done such a good job on the saddle sore, I'll try it on the throat. I just need my fingers to be a little bit longer to get right on the sweet spot. Obviously can't leave them down there a moment longer than necessary if I don't want an irruption. Actually, this makes me think, do you remember early on in the pandemic Trump recommended everyone drink disinfectant to kill the virus. As we've now spent the last 2 years washing ourselves in alcohol to kill Covid, why doesn't drinking alcohol do the same thing? Did Trump nearly have a good idea? Is it that the public health services didn't want to advise everyone to get plastered every day?

Quick check of my emails and one from Giles warning my route may be blocked due to the after effects of the terrible forest fires back in the summer. I ask Google and its looking like history back in August, so I press on with the planned route.

Then go downstairs to what has to be the worst breakfast so far. This won't take long. There's a tv on the wall so I try to follow the morning news.

Covid is on the rise in France, they're now considering bringing back mandatory mask wearing. There's one other guy in the room having breakfast who chose a table among all the empty ones right next to me. I try and make a point not to cough and aim to get out asap.

Petrol shortages are causing panic - well they should get a bicycle, it's obvious, no sympathy from me, hope they all run out and I can have the roads to myself.

Its the warmest morning so far, so summer gear from the start.

Arcachon is beautiful, this is a place to come back to. I'm cycling around the lagoon shore on my way south past the harbour entrance and a famous massive sand dune. Supposed to be the highest in Europe. I'm coming up to the key spot and bloody hell, there's barriers across the road and guys turning around the traffic. Route Barree. I ask if a cyclist can go through but they say there's police all along the route and I will get turned around. Apparently the devastation from the forest fires in the summer is still really bad.

So Giles was right. I ask them what is the best detour. I struggle to understand the French a bit, but I think it was along the lines of its a shit situation, tough luck.

I start heading down the only available road. The worst thing about having that navigation light in the sky is that it's reminding you continually you're going in totally the wrong direction. I'm trying to weigh up, is it better to go as quickly as possible, but then you're getting even further in the wrong direction. Perhaps I should stop and cry.

It took a long time and many additional km before I can re-join my original route. I'm now ready for a stop to re-energise.

A bar-cafe appears and this provides a coffee but no food. What I need is a boulangerie. Can't believe I keep passing them and they're closed. Seems the owners have gone away on holiday. Don't they realise there will be deaths from hunger as a result. More km's, tank now running low, then magic, one appears and it's open, and there's tables and chairs outside to sit in the sun.

I'm desperate at this point so its a massive tuna salad baguette and the biggest fresh fruit tarte you can imagine. All five of my five a day achieved. I'm totally full. It's a very sociable spot as I'm sat there tucking in. All the locals going in and out wish me bon appetit.

My mouth is too stuffed with food to answer, without sending a full lunch portion in their direction so just wave. Given the detour I'm feeling the need not to linger so fully fuelled I hit the road.

Bugger me, boulangerie's are like buses, can't find one anywhere and then another appears just metres down the road. I think about what to do. I don't need more food now, but this could be the last food opportunity for the rest of the month. They are closing for their extended lunch break in a few minutes and I can see they do coffee as well. So I go for it. A hot croque monsieur and a café au lait. At least I can sit in the sun whilst I'm sick.

I have a slightly longer break and try to avoid any position that doesn't keep my mouth at maximum vertical distance from my stomach.

The day is feeling better. Sunshine, food and drink seems to have that effect. I even pick up the velodyssee cycle track and as I'm not going to need further food and drink for days, have a change from the roads for a bit of peace and countryside.

Finally I arrived at Mimizan Plage. Best hotel yet, by a long way. It's actually a pleasure to be here. Bizarrely there's a classic Norton Commando 750 motorbike in the bar. Will have to take a look over breakfast.

A really strange thing happened to me this evening when I went out to dinner. I'd done a full analysis of all open restaurants and menus and decided on a particular one with a great value 3 course menu. I'm first in the door at 7pm opening time. I know what I want, but the waiter gives me the menu so I play along and keep him waiting. I open my mouth and the wrong words come out. There is a choice of 3 different 3 course menus, with the more expensive ones giving more choice and pretentious food. I'm genetically programmed from birth to always go for the cheapest. My words are asking for the next price up menu. WHAT???? Warm goat's cheese salad, fillets of duck blah blah blah. I don't even like them. OK, the pudding did sound better. I don't know if this is France starting to change my personality or values. I just want to say though that never, not in a million years, am I going to eat snot.

Finally, I'm getting a bit of feedback that you need pictures. I'd like to explain that although I now have a smartphone with me, it's dedicated to navigation. It's all velcro'ed away inside a waterproof case and plugged in to an external battery to keep the screen on, so taking a photo with it will be a complete faff and possibly cock up the nav. Basically I'm not a woman, I don't multi-task. But I have been thinking about it and may have come up with an answer. If I had another phone, that could be my camera. Now I know many of you find it confusing that I already have two mobile phones and can't cope with the two different numbers and this will mean three. But it makes complete sense to me.

Distance today 89 km.

Total distance so far - I had a beer with dinner, I can't remember....


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