March 19, 2003 - Nimes 175k/105m***

PRETTY PICTURE DAY
LAST FULL DAY OF RIDING

Narbonne has had a complicated past. First a Gaullic sea port, it was taken over by the Romans and made a provincial capital city in the 1st century B.C. It was then “crushed” by barbarian Visigoth invaders, then the Moors (Saracens) took over and finally the Christians recaptured it in 759 AD. The Christians are still in charge today.

We left Nabaronne on Wednesday morning in fairly heavy fog and traffic on a two lane country road, but it was beautiful riding through part of Langeudoc wine growing region. Here’s what we were looking at in the morning.

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The sun came out and we rode through Bezier, home of the second tallest cathedral (?) in the world. We didn’t stop to check anything out, but the sun had come out, and we took a picture of the town from the far side.

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At this point, just east of town, we picked up the Midi-canal, a UNESCO world heritage site, and rode along it for 15 miles or so. Here’s a canal shot, Bryan watching a boat go through one of the locks, and Charlie and Bryan a bit later along the canal.

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We broke off into some very narrow, cute country roads, heading toward the coast and the French resort town of Sete. For maybe 10km we rode along a two lane road along the beach. I stopped to a) take a picture of the beach, b) put my hand into the Mediterranean, and c) apply more suntan lotion, while Bryan and Charlie rode on.

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When we got to Sete it was early, for us, for lunch, around 12:15PM, but the large canal with the modern fishing boats, cute cafes and lively atmosphere caused us to take our lunch break. Here’s the Sete canal, and a cameo of Charlie and Bryan waiting for lunch.

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Those guys were slow to leave, so I rode ahead out of Sete alone. 22km later, outside of Montpillier I waited, and they both, eventually, caught up. The traffic was bad so Charlie and I decided to take a longer route through rural roads to Nimes, while Bryan took a 40 mile shortcut on a train from Montpillier to Nimes.

Charlie and I, for unknown reasons, rode this last 76km fairly quickly, with only one break, and an unattractive gas station. Charlie’s eating habits have been steadily deteriorating over the days, and here he just wolfed down two kit-kat bars, and an Orgina. He didn’t look too happy.

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Just outside of Nimes, Charlie got the first flat of the trip. We quickly repaired it, rode to the Nimes Arena (Roman Coliseum) and met up with Bryan. After a hard day it was already getting dark, so we just checked into the Novotel and then walked through the old part of Nimes where we had a nice dinner at the Minister Restaurant.

We’re anxious for this portion of the trip to end, and happy with our progress. I’ll admit now that this first segment was closer to 1,100 miles than the 900 I projected, but our route was not quite direct. It’s only 60km (36 miles) to the end at Avignon. Tomorrow.

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