Rob Ennals > Travel > Simon and Rob Invade and Conquer France

Day 3: The day Rob Crashed

St Etienne de Baigny -> Licq Athery


  • Chatelat d'Iraty: 1200m

We awoke to find out that our campsite was located next to a wine lake, and that the gravel between the campsite and the supermarket hurts ones feet when one walks on it barefoot. Having managed to successfully do the shopping without being thrown out of the supermarket for hygiene reasons, I returned to the campsite, and set off with Simon, to attack the main challenge of the day - the Chatelat d'Iraty.

Unbeknownst to us at the time, Iraty, turned out to be one of the hardest climbs of the holiday. We climbed a total of 1200m, at an incline of 9-12%. The further up we got, the better the views got, often becoming so beautiful, that they almost seemed fake. The local fauna was also very much in evidence, with Griffin vultures circling us. One vulture did a low fly-by over us, which we unfortunately failed to photograph.

The descent was even more manic than the previous ones. This time, I decided to lead, rather than following Simon. Desperate to show off how fast a descender I was, I bombed down at a lunatic speed. Simon decided to take things a bit more easily and stopped halfway down to take some photographs of the scenery. Thinking it would be fun to photograph me going by, he aimed his camera at the road below, and waited for me to pass - which I duly didn't.

The reason I didn't was because I had crashed, and was lying in the road shouting obscenities. I'm not entirely sure how I crashed, other than that I came into the corner kind of fast, and my bike slid out from underneath me. At the time, I thought I had slipped on a cow-pat, but inspection of cow-pats and my tyres failed to reveal any evidence for this, suggesting that it was probably my own stupid fault, and I had just hit the corner too fast.

A Dutch family (why are tourists in France always Dutch?) [simon - is Holland too flat?] heard my blaspheming, and, anxious to save me from damnation, came rushing to my aid. They moved my bike out of the road, stood on look out for oncoming traffic, and offered to take me to hospital in their car. However, after a few minutes, I recovered from the initial shock, and realised that I was actually pretty much unscathed. Other than a bit of bruising down my side, some minor road rash, and some minor damage to my clothes, I seemed to be perfectly ok. I attributed this partly due to the fact that the road had been recently used for a major cycle race, and so was nice and smooth.

I got up and brushed myself off, thanked the Dutch for their concern, told Simon I was ok, and got ready to set off behind him. It was at this point that I realised that the crash had caused my handlebars to twist left by around 45 degrees - and that Simon had the allen key that I needed to straighten them. I thus set off behind Simon, trying to catch him up so that I could get my steering fixed. Simon, on seeing me moving, decided my bike must be fine, and increased his speed downhill. Eventually, after a very strange downhill charge, I got close enough to Simon for him to hear me shouting for him to stop.

Simon stopped, got his allen key out, loosened my handlebars, put my front wheel between his legs, and then yelped with pain. It seemed that, as a result of my descent, my tyres and rims had become remarkably hot. I had also managed to cause my front tyre to slip round the rim, causing my valve to stick out at a rather inappropriate angle. After waiting a few minutes, my wheel calmed down a bit, and Simon straightened the handlebars. I tried to persuade Simon to photograph my road-rash for posterity, but Simon said that he wasn't willing to pander to my obsession with my own naked body, and kindly refused.

The bottom of the valley contained a gorge, which was supposedly spectacular, but which we thought was a bit rubbish. Admittedly it is quite likely we found the wrong gorge - given that it was nothing like the Rough Guide said it would be like, but that didn't make it any less rubbish. Simon said something about there being better gorges in Yorkshire, but I considered him to be a biased source and ignored him.

At this point Simon became instantaneously hungry, and declared that we needed to locate a cafe and a campsite. Moments later, we came up to an American themed restaurant called "Calamity Jane's" that had a small campsite in the back field. This started Simon's trend of causing things to immediately appear when he wished for them.

We liked this campsite. It was very small (there was only one other tent), and very friendly. We ate a meal of the greasiest food we had ever experienced (Pizza shouldn't be swimming in oil!), and then had what would have been a good night's sleep, had I been able to find a comfortable sleeping position which didn't put pressure on my bruises.