Alice Dryden (huskyteer) wrote,
Alice Dryden

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Pyrenees Day 6: Highs and Lows

The ongoing theme of the day was GPS Error.

Soon after leaving Carcasonne, the offending instrument led us along narrow, winding trails through sun-dappled woodland. This was entirely the wrong direction, but I didn't care, because we had somehow stumbled across the Perfect Scooter Road.

The curves were too tight and the roads too narrow for larger engines and superior acceleration to come into play. The instant control afforded by an automatic transmission and the manoeuvrability and stickiness of little wheels evened up the playing-field to the point where our Hayabusa rider, normally not seen for dust from my end of the pack, waved me through after numerous twisties spent glued to his tail.

So, so proud of my baby and its ability to play with the big boys. God I love that scooter.

Be that as it may, though, here we were, lost and hopelessly behind schedule for our sightseeing objectives of the day: firstly the viaduct at Millau, going on to the Gorges du Tarn.

We reached the bridge in the middle of the afternoon, regrouping in a layby to gaze at it before making the crossing. It's a beautiful span, white and swooping - it must look fantastic at night. Traversing it was an event I'd been keenly looking forward to - so keenly, in fact, that I was a little disappointed by the reality. It was over so quickly! The viaduct forms part of a motorway, so there was no choice but to press on, and it was hard to steal a sideways glance at the panoramic view.

Quite something to say one has crossed it, though.

We were made even later by a supermarket petrol station with the stupidest payment system in the world, which necessitated a 20-minute queue in the blazing sun. Leader John announced that he'd been looking forward to the gorge all week and was jolly well going there, and anyone else was welcome to join him.

cybersofa and three others elected to head straight for the hotel, while I joined the gorge expedition. I made the right choice; after the heat of the afternoon it was wonderful to climb up and up, shaded by canyon walls and surrounded by coiling ferns.

Then I got lost.

Well, three of us got lost, which made it less panic-inducing. We carried on for a while, wondering where everyone else was, and halted when we came to a T-junction with no marker and realised something had gone wrong somewhere. We dug out maps and planned our route to the night's hotel, but moments before we hit the road my mobile rang and we were able to retrace our steps and join the others.

I leapt indignantly to the conclusion that no marker had been left to indicate the turn-off up to the viewpoint, but as it turned out our leader had stopped once again for GPS adjustment and the three of us had sailed straight past him. Tempting to blame the sat-nav, but really I should have been paying more attention.

John gave the latecomers five minutes to look at the view, and well worth the journey and the lostness it was. Then we had to push on, three of us somewhat wearier than the others having rested less and done ten more miles. The most optimistic arrival time we could now envisage was ten o'clock at night.

We stopped for dinner in a little town which proved to have a splendid hotel, nipping in just ahead of a coach party for a three-course meal which made us even later but was necessary for the miles ahead of us.

It was a long, dark road we travelled that night - four hours of it, full of scary, ill-lit bends and enormous lorries travelling in packs. Just when we thought the end was in sight, the GPS would make us do a 180 in a tiny village and bump off down a single track. I have nothing but praise for my travelling companions: for John, who led us safely home; for the calm and stoicism of his pillion, Sandie; for Steve, Howard and the other John, who kept the group together and marked more than their fair share of junctions so the slower riders could keep making progress; for Roger, patient and reliable tail-ender; and for everyone else for simply keeping going without complaint and getting there in one piece. (Heck, that includes me, I suppose.)

On arrival at the Hotel Chartreuse in Cahors at going on for one in the morning we found that the rest of the party had waited up for us, faithfully and at great personal sacrifice keeping the bar open by ordering more drinks whenever it looked like closing.

This was a stressful and annoying day for many people, and I'm sure I irritated them no end by my constant bounding around babbling about what a bloody brilliant day I was having. But I was and I did.

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Tags: bikes, hols, scooters
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