The Great pyrenean adventure - day 1

The Driver...


Day 1 - Saturday 13th September 2003

Car all packed cycling adventure

The start point for everyone was Camping La Parma right by Biarritz airport. Chosen because it was so easy to get to by rail or air. My day began at 9.00am when William and I set off with the trailer of bikes behind my trusty Zafira loaded to the gunnels with gear. I'd thought an 8 hour drive would stretch my French to the limit, but we chatted animatedly for 5 hours non stop before I finally put some music on the tape player. William was great company but the speed he shot out of the car to have a fag ever time we stopped for a pee (the only time we stopped) showed that perhaps I was not his ideal travelling companion. I assured him that on the cycling trip we would actually stop occasionally for a meal, which cheered him up somewhat. He just had to put up with my aim to get to Biarritz as directly as possible so I'd have some time to get everything done in the early evening.

Finally swinging into the campsite after 800 kms we were greeted by the sight of a small group of the gang sitting by the campsite pool sunning themselves in beautiful weather. There followed the usual manic couple of hours assembling bikes, putting up tents and generally getting ready as in small groups the remaining cyclists wandered in.

getting bikes ready

All but Rob had decided to plan their journey to arrive in good time to have a meal in a restaurant - Rob had a plan where he would avoid the rush at the London Airport by taking a late plane and arriving at 11.30pm. So once everyone was sorted out we set of the 1/2 km to the nearest restaurant, a rather impersonal chain affair, and had a surprisingly subdued meal. It's often the way that a group is a little quiet on day one as the 'ice' is broken, but despite the fact that most people knew each other I think the apprehension about what was to come did rather take the edge off things - dinner wasn't great either...

So around 11.00pm we wandered back to the campsite and soon after Rob arrived. He'd phoned us from Paris to say he hadn't found any food and could we get a doggy bag - so we handed him a manky sandwich and went to bed.

But not to sleep...

As we'd arrived back at the campsite there started up the most incredible noise as some very poor live bands with very loud PA systems thrashed out into the night. Stuffing in the earphones of my walkman and listening to an episode of 'Rumpole of the Bailey' kept me sane until the subsonic vibrations died away at 3.00am.