The journey on leads us to the Col de Crayssac, where we stop beside Bob, Mary and Johanna who have gone on ahead from Catus in their car. We take in the view and then descend the twists and turns to the valley floor, accomplishing this much quicker than the ascent took us two days ago. A gentle ride beside the river brings us to our lunch stop in Castelfranc. We are early so we settle in a café beside the bridge for pre-lunch SdM&C and watch other tandems arrive. Lunch is well organised on tables in the shade beside the market building.
After a relaxing break we set off again into the very strong heat of the afternoon. We have some tough cycling to come climbing out of the Lot valley and then ‘over the top’ to Salviac so Sheila instigates the 5km rule. After each 5km we stop in the next available spot of roadside shade to stand up, drink and have a 2-minute cool down. As we go along we leapfrog the couple adopting a similar tactic on the Hase Pino. Eventually we reach Cazals and the welcome sight of a roadside café. We pull in for ice creams, followed by SdM&C. Others join us. From here it is a short run home and into the shower.
With the early evening sun still strong we walk down to the campsite café for pre-drink drinks. More SdM&C. Then we join Martine and Benit and all the others for a vin d’honneur, speeches and prize giving in the salle de fêtes. The speeches are commendably short; and the prize giving comprises awarding silver salvers (standing on hefty wooden bases) to the tandems who have come furthest in the world, Europe and France to attend the rally. Carl and Julie win the first award as their USA state is just further from France than those of the other Americans. On receiving their award Carl drops to one knee, proposes to Julie and produces flowers and a ring. Luckily the slightly surprised and confused Julie says, “Yes”. Bob and Mary had let us in on this in advance and we are all relieved it has gone well. The French want to be sure she has said, “Oui” and when reassured applaud loudly and with enthusiasm.
We are then awarded the Europe prize, which is a walkover because we are the only non-French or American tandem. But we don’t feel too bad because we have easily cycled the furthest distance to be here, having pedalled a circuitous route from Sault. Finally, the French award is given.
Not too many, but some thing come up so often in the course of our cycle touring that it is not worth writing them out in full each time:
Click on any photo to enlarge and scroll through gallery