Day 3. Route

The next day dawned all too early as assorted French market traders set up their stalls outside in an altogether too happy and noisy manner. Perhaps choosing a hotel on the market square was a bad plan? The route for the day was to take us to Carcasonne, a place I have been impressed with in the past (being a large medieval walled town with the walls entirely intact, including wooden battlements and roofs on the towers). Crispin had been told that it was a top place to visit, so we agreed to stop there. We set out in formation, and ascended the Col du Port, at which point Jeremy went steaming off, only to be caught by Marvin who had been at the back but was on a flyer. I just couldn't get the hang of it, I am used to much shorter corners, with a brake, flick, accelerate style of riding. Marvin was impressively smooth as he swept majestically past. At the top we were joined by a scotsman on an R1. He had really minimal luggage, and was doing lots of miles. Presumably a member of the gold amex school of motorcycle touring, but that I could join that club. After that we got strung out a little on really quite pleasant roads, including the first of many very oddly coloured lakes.
A meltwater lake, they all seemed to be this colour.
During a fag stop for marvin I mentioned how bad the rear axle of a passing truck sounded, and was soundly criticised for noticing such things amongst the prevailing scenery. We had some trouble passing a concrete truck, so much so that when we paused to regroup we didn't, setting off before quite everybody had arrived to avoid having to pass it again. It availed is naught though, as just up the road Jeremy had stopped in a garage with suspiciously bad sounding front wheel bearings. Like a flash I produced the spares I had packed, sizes 6302, 6304 and 6305. Jeremy rang his dealer in the UK. The Tiger takes 6303. Darn! Jeremy tried to work out the french for 'ball bearing' while I took a sample to a little workshop up the road. Neither of us had much luck. We set off again, this time with me in the front. I lost the others fairly quickly but pressed on knowing that they were going to Carcasonne, and knowing that they would have to go past a lay-by on the main road directly opposite where I would wait for them. Imagine my surprise when Carcassonne was a huge city. It appeared that I had confused it with a much smaller walled town. I carried on hopefully, following the signs for 'Citadel', and eventually crossed the river to see the truly impressive sight that is the old city. I picked a sensible place to wait. And waited. And Waited. I did a getting very lost lap of the city, back to the way they would have had to come in to see if they had regrouped outside the city. Then did another loop a little later. 2 hours later I decided they weren't coming, made a phone call, and found that they had decided they were behind schedule and had bypassed Carcasonne altogether. Rats!. I could have spent that time looking round the citadel by myself. I set off back on the previously arranged route, though due to eccentric sign posting I did a further 3 laps of the city centre before finding the Mazamet road. Eventually I arrived at the destination for the night, and started trying to find campsites. None of the first two directions I tried looked hopeful, so I stopped and tried a phone call again. I had missed a call, but no-one was answering theirs. (I wish I had got the vibralert model, that might have worked above the wind noise). I tried another way out of town, and found a campsite just as it dropped dark, a campsite full of Brit. bikers, and the right ones two. Sorted. It turned out that night life at the sight was effectively absent, so whilst Jeff went (somewhat worryingly glumly) to bed the rest of us went in to town by bike. As it was Mikes 35th birthday he hitched a lift on Marvin's FJ so he could drink. I led the way out of the site and immediately turned the wrong way. One U turn later we arrived in town and tried to find somewhere open. We had a not at all bad meal in a bar under a large stone edifice of unknown function, it was an interesting barrel-vaulted structure with a spiral staircase going up. Unhappy with the concept of a night of sobriety we bought a large box of cheap beer from the proprietor, returned to the campsite (Mike on my FJ this time) and sat around quaffing weak fizzy beer until it had all gone.

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