A cold start this morning but there was a friendly headwind so we made good progress at the start. Despite intentions of an 8am start, we got away from the manoir at about 8:30am. It wasn’t long before Richard needed to stock up with fuel for the day so about 12 miles into the ride we stopped in a small village to do so. This threw Google into fits of confusion and we were directed into every road out of the village in succession until we eventually found the right one.
It was a hiller ride in the morning and we were again led down blind alleys, across unsurfaced farm tracks and through woodland. This makes for slow going with a fully laden bike but Richard was delighted to find somewhere to park his rabbit next time he visits the area.
The poor roads, reminiscent of Italy’s strade bianchi and the classic L’Eroica vintage bike ride, kept our pace down and, when combined with stops, meant we were hard-pushed to make our 100 miles for the day. By mid-afternoon we got another soaking from the skies – not a downpour but steady rainfall for about an hour. Over the next couple of hours we dried out and set Pons as our destination for the day, initially expecting to arrive by about 7:30pm. It appeared to have a choice of hotels, so accommodation shouldn’t be a problem – or so we thought.
We started to make excellent progress on proper roads. The ‘day three dip’ was behind us and we both felt the benefit of the previous three days’ ‘training’. Only misdirections and diversions from busy D-roads delayed us and, after sprinting through vineyards for the last hour or so, we finally arrived at Pons. The only hotel was full and the Auberge a little further down the road was closed for refurbishment. It was 9pm and beginning to look like we’d have to resort to booking.com then ride another 10 – 15 miles. It didn’t come to that after the Auberge owner came to the rescue. He had offered to tidy up one of the rooms for us, which was nearly finished, but apologised that he couldn’t provide breakfast. We accepted gratefully. 103.7 miles covered and a quick check confirmed that we’re just 10 miles off the pace to achieve our target.
The bar-restaurant in the town stopped serving food at 9pm and it was now 9:20pm. However, the kebab and burger place 50 metres away was still open. Not finest French cuisine, of course, but I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a couple of burgers and chips more. Back to the bar for a drink and coffee.
I’m writing this in the same bar, where we’ve just had coffee and croissant. It’s the start of Day 5 and we’re aiming for 110 miles today to be back on target at the half way point.