Miles ridden today – 46
Total miles so far – 2,534
So ….. last night in the campsite in Bourbon-Lancy there were a few of us including the Canadians, Angus and Jodie, a French couple with a 10 month old baby (yes, on cycling holiday with a small crawling person – for those of you who think we are insane, I think they are insane!), a French teacher cycling to Basel and a few other couples we didn’t really get to meet. And Bike Bag Man.
Bike Bag Man was – undoubtedly, one flying buttress short of a cathedral and chatted to himself in both English and French. He had quite a nice bike with a trailer usually used for a small child full of his bags of stuff. Most cyclists wear the standard uniform of padded Lycra shorts, Lycra tops or t-shirts and trainers. He was wearing baggy trousers and a slightly stained shirt.
We were awoken this morning to the dawn chorus of him coughing his guts up which made me, at least, feel rather queasy. He then started to load up his trailer and his bike kept falling over which was accompanied by (loud) yells of “flippin heck”. And then “Pourquoi, Pourquoi”. Matt and I then ascertained that he must be English and the campsite manager came out and asked him to keep the noise down.
Both Angus and the father of small crawling person went over and helped him with his bike and his packing and off he went with much ringing of his bell.
About half an hour later he returned having been to the supermarket and now needing the loo. This was when our problems started as he came over to our little group and realised that Matt and I were English and – to our slight dismay – that we were all cycling to Nevers. There was a brief discussion about routes which was hard as he had obvious short term memory and hearing loss. He also had a serious squint which makes his cycling ability even more impressive as both eyes are looking in completely opposite directions so balancing on a bike must be incredibly hard.
Once more he set off and we thought we’d never see him again …….
As it’s Sunday and the roads are quiet we took the (hilly) road to Decize where we would then pick up the Canal du Nivernais which would take us to Nevers.
We were bombing along at a pretty good pace and decided to have lunch at the first possible bench on the canal. Just tucking into our bread and salami and cheese when who should come along, ring ring on his bell and, yes, there was Bike Bag Man. HALLO! Been Looking For You! Think I’ll have my lunch here as well! With which he gets of his bike, pulls out a Tupperware of ham and tomato salad and sits down next to Matt.
Along with everything else Bike Bag Man is slightly orthodontically challenged and has clearly never been taught not to speak with his mouth full so proceeds to spray tomato and mayonnaise spittle over Matt who, being very English and polite has asked him some questions about his life. Left Leeds because “everyone took the piss out of me”, sold pretty much everything he owned, moved to Paris, was an alcoholic then gave up because he kept falling off his bike, now works in a shop mending bikes and busks to make extra money, was once given £50 by Simon Cowell when he was busking.
This was all quite interesting but the combination of the spit and a humongous bogey hanging out of his right nostril was more than we could handle so we packed up pronto (didn’t even open the pack of chocolate biscuits which was our “treat”) and, politely, started to leave. Yup, you’ve guessed it, he also packed up and started cycling with us, coughing, coughing, coughing as he went. Oh crap, we now have a new best friend.
Managed to shake him off with the ruse of “taking photographs” from a bridge.
Met two other cyclists cycling from Strasbourg to Spain and chatted with them for a while so figured we’d given him a good enough head start and set off again. The plan was that if we saw him ahead we would stop for 15 minutes again and give him another head start.
All going well until we reached a bend in the track and there, lurking in the undergrowth out of sight until it was too late was Bike Bag Man brewing a cup of tea. Oh shit, shit, shit – keep cycling and wave as we go by. He packed up in about 10 seconds flat and was soon on our tale again. Shit, Shit, Shit.
Matt checked the map and planned to divert off the path at the next bridge and take sanctuary in a church graveyard he could see marked but Bike Bag Man was gaining on us and I was getting knackered. In the end I just threw my toys out of the cot and stopped dead saying “this is f*&^%$ing ridiculous”. Yup, Bike Bag Man came up and stopped as well. Matt told him we were having a flaming row (not that far from the truth) and he asked “what about” – seriously impressed that Matt didn’t say, “YOU”. I pretended to be on the phone to Guy who “urgently” needed to speak to his father. Matt came back to where I was and we then had a 10 minute charade of Matt “talking” to Guy whilst Bike Bag Man ate his crisps and waited for us. Aaaaaagh!
In the end he cycled off and we let him go for a good 10 minutes before starting off again.
Approaching Nevers we had a problem. Bike Bag Man had said he had no money and was planning to camp on the grass by the boats. We suspected he actually did have money and would follow us to the camp site. An evening of spittle and bogeys was in the offing with our new “best friend”. What to do?
Coming round the final bend before a long straight into Nevers and THERE HE WAS – lurking, again. Ring, ring, ring of his bell. “See You In Nevers” he shouted. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit.
We had 3 kilometres to come up with a plan. We pretty much knew now that he would be in the campsite. Could we face an evening of insanity, spittle and bogeys? No we could not. What are we going to do?
As we approached Nevers we saw the campsite entrance on the right and kept on going and as we reached the main road – there in red and white letters – just across the road was our salvation ……………..
And that is how we came to be spending two nights hiding in the Ibis Hotel in Nevers!!