Saturday, 24 June 2017
Reflections on Parkinson's fundraising ride from Pauillac to La Livinière (Minverois)
Jim and Carole @the Cité of Carcassonne
A week yesterday Carole and I were riding through quiet, rolling roads through the Minervois towards our final destination – Domaine Ostal Cazes at La Livinière. Fortunately we had the wind behind us as we passed by vineyards interspersed by garrique and other crops.
In direct contrast yesterday afternoon I foolishly decided to go for a ride in London at the time of the afternoon school run and the start of the Friday weekend rush hour. This made riding on most of the roads no fun at all and I cut short my ride. Such a contrast to peaceful rural France whether it is in the Languedoc or the Loire.
Although there are considerate drivers in London, there are still far too many that speed, drive recklessly and dangerously with little thought for other road users whether they are fellow drivers, cyclists or pedestrians.
Riding a bike in London means that you can never relax – always trying to anticipate the next danger or the next impatient idiot.
Much of our five day ride from Pauillac to La Livinière was along the towpath of the Garonne and then the Midi Canals. There was a good tarred track all the way from the western end of the Garonne canal a few miles east of Langon all the way to the western border of the Aude départment. This meant that we could ride our road bikes along by the canal and benefit from the shade and tranquility – no vehicles! Unfortunately in the Aude the track becomes rough so we had to take to the normal roads to avoid punctures.
During our ride we had to negotiate two major cities: Bordeaux and Toulouse. Both proved to be cycle friendly and easy to get through. Toulouse entirely on cycle lanes – some shared with pedestrians, while Bordeaux was easy once we reached the new Pont Jacques Chaban Delmas Bridge. The new bridge includes a dedicated cycle lane which then on the eastern side connects to a pedestrian/cycleway that takes you right through and out to the south of the city. In Toulouse we were able to follow the Garonne Canal until it became the Canal du Midi.
Clearly both Bordeaux and Toulouse a much smaller than London but it was striking, despite the new cycle highways in the centre, London lags far behind these French cities.
Sadiq Khan, the current London Mayor, makes the right sounds about improving conditions for pedestrians and cyclists alike. However, after a little more than a year in power I sense that he has achieved little and that he is better at hot air than taking practical steps.
Khan appointed Will Norman, as his new walking and cycling supremo on a salary of £98,000 a year. A google search on Norman brings up no recently entries, so you have to wonder what is he up to?
We are very pleased that our ride across Southern France has to date raised £5,587.19 including gift aid. Donations continue to be very welcome – please donate here Together we can make a difference to people with Parkinson's. Thanks!
Destination: Ostal Cazes, La Livinière, Minervois
Cycling group@Trevor Gulliver's house in nearby Homps