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

Day 4: The day it rained

Licq Athery -> 2 miles past Mifages

Simon had decided that it would be interesting to visit Lourdes, and that we should spend this day largely on the flat, working our way north, with the intention of making Lourdes the following day.

As we pulled into Arrette, we felt the call of lunch, and stopped at a seductive town-center picnic area. As we sat and ate, we were joined by another cycle-tourist, with an even more heavily laden bike than us. He revealed himself to be a Canadian called Eric, and explained that he was attempting to do a cycle route called "The Raid", in which one must cross the Pyrenees, doing all the biggest cols, all in only 10 days. Unfortunately Eric had only just got up, and needed to do 100 miles that day. We admired his bike, wished him luck, and whizzed off on our easy flat route, leaving him to his mountains.

It was clear from the beginning that the weather wasn't going to be polite to us, as big black clouds gathered, and refused to go away. By mid afternoon it was most definitely raining, and we pulled into the shelter of a tree to allow Simon to put the covers on his panniers, and me to put all my stuff into bin bags - not wanting to repeat the events of last year, when all my things were soaked though in similar weather.

By the time we got to Arundy (a horrible, industrial town) the rain was starting to become downright rude, and so we decided to shelter in a cafe to wait for it to get bored with us and go away. Unfortunately, the rain decided not to go away, and continued to become more and more offensive. Eventually we decided that, assuming we weren't going to camp in the cafe, we were going to have to go out and confront the weather. After a few minutes of psyching ourselves up, we went boldly forth, and proceeded to cycle the rest of our planned journey through a 50% mix of air and water.

By the time we reached the campsite at our planned destination, we were comprehensively soaked. As a gentlemanly concession, the rain agreed to ease off for just long enough to let us put our tent up, but then switched back on again. We retreated into the sheltered safety of the campsite cafe and attempted to ask if the owners had a drying room, using the medium of cartoon. They kindly offered to let us dry out things on a clothes drier in the cafe after they had closed. They also used a hair-dryer to dry our money, which we had neglected to put into plastic bags.

Having arranged our clothes on the drier, we carefully studied the flood evacuation plan, observed something large and sinister moving in the lake, and retreated to our tent. The rain continued through the night, accompanied by some distinctly uncouth winds that seemed determined to relocate the tent. The strange lake creature made strange lake-creature noises throughout the night, specially tuned so that only Simon could hear them.