Barcelona Day 7 from Béziers to Perpignan

After yesterday’s very challenging day especially at the end, I hope for a more relaxed one today. At least only just over 100 km (62 km) are planned and they are all quite flat. After the small shock with my trailer yesterday evening I deliberately take it very easy this morning. Above all to test whether my repair can withstand the loads in the long run. The breakfast was again very spartan, as always, this time unfortunately also in a very spartan atmosphere. The breakfast buffet was in the lobby with two tables and four chairs. Well. It worked.

I only meet the Mediterranean again after about 70 km (43 mi). Until then I drive in a distance of about 15 km (9 mi) parallel to the coast. Shortly after the start, I reach the first sight. It starts with a small, almost inconspicuous canal lock next to the road. Exactly at the moment of my arrival, a ship was being sluiced. Although I lived many years directly at the Kiel Canal and know locks inside and out, this one is not only much smaller but also much older. And it is only the beginning. At the time of the construction of this lock, I did not remember the year, it was not yet possible to overcome such large height differences as today. Directly next to this lock there was a second one because there are several height meters to overcome. The Canal du Midi, which is here on one level with the river Orb and is also connected to it, is lifted so high that it crosses the river on an old stone arch bridge. I had only seen something like this on TV before, very impressive!

I continue to follow the canal, which a little later overcomes another 20 m (66 ft) in height in an impressive canal lock cascade. After about 10 km (6 mi) I leave the canal and drive through a hilly area to the southwest. It gets hot again and I have to drink a lot. With every meter I get closer to my goal, you can see that in nature. Due to the slowness of cycling compared to driving a car or traveling by train, I am much more aware of the small differences in vegetation.

Especially impressive was the following section, which leads through nature on a pure cycle path off the beaten track. A few weeks ago there seemed to have been a violent forest fire because on several kilometers there were not a single intact but only charred trees. Grass and undergrowth were green again, they are already growing back. Not the trees, they are dead. How long will it take until this former forest has recovered?

After almost exactly 51 km (32 mi) per day shortly before Sigean, there was a real motivation boost: The first signpost to Barcelona! So far it has been exactly 888 km (552 mi)! To Barcelona, it is still 266 km (165 mi). That’s not so far anymore. Now I realize: I can do it! My plan works out! I celebrate this shortly afterward on the outskirts of Sigean in the restaurant To The Golden M with a big glass full of sweet and cool American champagne! Yeah!

Out of the city came a great way past big rocks. Suddenly the road leads directly to a motorway-like four-lane expressway. Before I continue, I check several maps, but this is really the only way over the next “mountain” (about 70 m / 230 ft altitude). So I bite the bullet and set off on the “highway”. Fortunately, there is also a side strip here, so that I don’t have to drive on the road. Another positive side effect is that such “big” roads don’t have strong gradients, so I got up the small mountain quite well and quickly.

After only three kilometers (two miles) I went off the road again and through a place whose houses and plots of land look so different than in any other place so far. Very big, very well-kept, surrounded by high walls and up here on the mountain with an unobstructed view of the Mediterranean Sea. These villas must cost a fortune. Nothing is going on in the streets, no walkers, not even benches or cafés, just villas. And from time to time a police patrol. I call this an “interesting experience”.

Shortly before I reach the first 70 km (43 mi) per day and the Mediterranean coast again, I take a break in the small village Leucate and compensate my fluid balance again. It is the hottest day on my journey so far. It’s a total of 33 °C (91 °F) now. As long as I don’t have to stop but can drive, the wind is still good. And today I haven’t planned such a long distance, so there are still a good 30 km (19 mi)ahead of me.

First of all, it goes now again directly along the sea. I have also planned a small detour, as there is a museum ship, the Lydia, right on the beach. I didn’t know it before and during the planning, I only saw a note on the Komoot map. The detour was only 500 m (1’640 ft), so why not have a look. The Lydia is a former cargo and passenger ship that was built in 1931 and since 1967 it is a tourist attraction at the beach of Le Barcarès. I did not take any time for sightseeing. If the inside still looks like it does from the outside, a visit would probably be very worthwhile.

But I preferred to go on my way, as I slowly got hungry and the sky began to darken. It now looks as if there would be rain later today and then I wanted to be in the hotel, relaxing and enjoying the evening with something to eat and drink. From the sea, I went along two rivers and also a bit of a busy road without side strip, but I made good progress there and arrived in time at my hotel in Perpignan. Not long after my arrival, the heavens opened their floodgates and I was glad not to have wasted any time on the way.

Today it was a very pleasant day. Partly really hot and dry with some heavily trafficked roads but also with beautiful, secluded and lonely paths. The surroundings were very varied, partly hilly, partly flat, overland and along the sea. I feel very satisfied tonight. Maybe this is also because I have only two days left before I reach Barcelona and I will cross the border to Spain tomorrow. Oh yes, the border. Those are the Pyrenees. Tomorrow I have to cross over there! I’m a bit scared already. But on the other hand, I can also take my time tomorrow because, like today, I have only planned about 100 km (62 mi). That should be possible…

Today it was 107 km (66 mi), for which I needed 5h 14m. I climbed 600 m (1’969 ft) of altitude.

Yours
Marcus

Written on May 23, 2019