Sometimes things aren’t great on tour. Today was such a day. I woke up feeling a bit ‘out of sorts’, I wasn’t looking forward to the day ahead. I listened to the rain on the tent pretty sure it was a shower and delaying getting up until it had passed.
Bags packed and on the bike I set off south, bracing myself for the forecast rain. I reached the first town of the day and the weather was almost pleasant. I bought some pain au chocolat and set off again joining the cycle path on the edge of town.
Once I was away from all buildings and all cover the rain started. One of those rain storms that taunt you by getting heavier even when you think that isn’t possible. My waterproofs were doing the job they are designed for and my head, body, hands and legs were dry and warm.
My weak point is my feet, my boots quickly soak through and waterproof socks still have the hole in the top that your legs go through. I could really do with some gaitors to create a good seal between my waterproof trousers and boots. Within half an hour my feet are wet and starting to get cold.
The bike path I am following takes me towards the coast. This is a mistake. The coast road that it follows is fairly exposed. At times the gusts of wind are so strong I have to get off and walk. It’s still raining. My destination today is deliberately not far but I don’t have anywhere to stay when I reach it. The 20 miles beyond are mostly built up so wild camping would be hard.
After two and a half hours I stop in a cafe in Capbreton. Whilst sat in the cafe the rain stops. I check my phone for messages about a place to stay. None. I look at hostels in the area and cheap hotels. Having finished my coffee I set off again. The rain recommences.
It has been raining for near three hours and I’ve lost the bike path. I just follow the road. My rear tyre is really worn. This isn’t an issue as I have a spare. I was expecting a spate of punctures to prompt me to change it. However instead the sidewall is starting to split and the tyre deforms giving my rear wheel a weird wobble as I ride. I carry on I’ll swap the tyre tonight.
After another ten miles I stop at a supermarket and buy a chocolat bar. I haven’t eaten any lunch yet as I’ve seen no where dry to stop and shelter. I check my phone again and see that I might have a lead on somewhere to stay. I send a text to the number I’ve been given. The rain stops but I still can’t really feel my feet.
I reach the outskirts of Bayonne and stop to check my phone again. No news. It starts to rain again. I’m cold and starting to wonder what the symptoms are for trench foot. I give in and ride to a cheap hotel on an industrial estate. I feel defeated but my feet tingle in the shower as heat seeps back into them. Sometimes you have to give in?
It’s my last night in France until my return journey and I feel I should walk the thirty minutes into the town and explore. The frequent rain showers and warmth of the basic hotel room are not encouraging me to go outside again. Time to dig deep for motivation.