Cerbere to Beziers

I think I am ready to stop; my heart felt it was all over in Barcelona and my head hasn’t been right since. I also seem to be suffering from a pavlovian condition whereby, at the first sign of adversity, I look for a train.

That response was tested today but, thankfully not acted upon.

Once again the day started slowly, as the coastal climbs continued unabated and some of the roads I had planned to use were closed to cyclists.

The closed roads were a mixed blessing. They did result in me seeking alternative routes through some nice towns I would have otherwise missed out on, but at the cost of far more climbing.

The best example of this was encountered at Argelès-Plage where, if the D114 had not been closed to cyclists, I would have missed out on a scenic descent, a nice harbour, some impressive coastal defences, a charming town centre market and a vicious (15% or so) back-road climb out of town.

Then, as quickly as it had all started, the coastal roller coaster was done with. Suddenly everything was flatness and wind.

After winding my way through a few pleasant coastal towns, with bars instead of boulangeries, it was time to do battle with the N roads again.

Pre-Barcelona the N roads had been a necessary inconvenience; not great cycling but a way of getting the job done, but now things had changed. I’d had my fill of lorries whistling past while trying to balance on the narrow strip of tarmac between the main carriageway and whatever passed for a hard shoulder in the eyes of the road builder.

The brief non N road sections seemed to be marred by an interminable head wind, which even had me on the drops in the granny gear during one infuriatingly flat section on the marshland around Peyriac-de-Mer.

I reached the city of Narbonne in the rush hour a full two hours later than I had expected. Still separated from Beziers, where I had hoped to be, by 25K of against the wind N road. Not an exciting prospect.

I could almost hear the SNCF station calling my name, but where to? Not Beziers, what would be the point of a 25K train journey only to carry on again tomorrow? Montpelier? Then I would arrive in the Ardèche too soon.

Decided to stop moping, refuel, get my head down and get to Beziers as quick as my legs could manage it.

As is often the case in such circumstances, with the decision made, things rapidly improved. The N road was of the smooth quiet variety, there was some shelter from the wind and from somewhere (probably the jambon baguette and pomme d’tarte in Narbonne) I began to find some of the speed that had been missing all day.

The 25K became 15 then 8 until I came across an empty looking motel 3KM from Beziers which seemed likely to meet my exacting requirements (cheap and available). However, whilst ticking the above boxes, it was actually quite a nice place and the menu of the day proved both tasty and filling.

The last 25K put a gloss on the day that would not have been there had I stopped in Narbonne and I began to look forward to the final two days.

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Day:13 of 15
Date:01 August 2007
Distance:137 KM
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