Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cycling the Canal du Midi---The Serial, Part One

I watched a show once I think. It wasn’t Rick Stein, but something like it, where a family went on a cycling holiday along the Canal du Midi.

This was way back in Texas, before the Littlest was even an inkling, the Middlest was just a small sprout of an idea and Ma Fille was the Only. A lifetime ago. 

But I saw this thing and needless to say, I’ve been harboring a burning desire to do it myself, cycle the beautiful, shaded canal, all peaceful cool trails, green-gray water and sheltering canopy of plane trees. Even with the boost in kid numbers.  

Since we (luckily and thankfully) live so close to the famous canal, we figured it would be best to tackle this particular dream in chunks rather than the full-on cycling, camping shebang (also due to kid numbers). 

It was my birthday wish. The way I wanted to spend my personal odometer clicking from 40 to 41. The Canal du Midi à vélo. And it matched right up with my birthday present of a brand-new bike. Thanks P-Daddy!

Let me back up just a bit though.

Last year, we headed out on our maiden voyage to the Canal du Midi with my good friend Ms Butt Bumper and her Littlest equivalent. It was beautiful and I took some photos and wrote a post about it. You may remember. Do you?

Well. What I neglected to tell you last year was that along the way P-Daddy got a flat tire on his bike that he tried and tried to repair with patches which required the removal of the tire and then the defunct and offending tube which lay there like a limp noodle, hissing air, the guts of the tire exposed. It wasn’t pretty. Or convenient. Or conducive to a truly relaxing cycle along the Canal du Midi. 

He was totally cool about it, as he typically is, and patched and pumped and tried again, but the dang thing just kept going kaput. 

This is the trait that endears me most to P-Daddy; this coolness under pressure, this Zen attitude that makes Sara call him Crush. And thank goodness for it, too.

So we stopped for lunch and called it a day. Back to the car and reloading the bikes with a reasonable hour and a half long ride under our belts. Not bad for our first attempt. 

However, what I also neglected to tell you back then was that on the drive home, it began to rain. And then cars began to pass us, slowing down and the people inside doing that pointing thing towards the back left of the car that you just know isn’t going to end well, that’s going to leave you stopped, fixing something, while they zoom on, leaving you in a world of hurt.
They're long gone, speeding off to their destination. Laughing.

They’re not pointing to say, 'man, that's a cool bike' or ‘wow, you’re a really good driver’.
They’re pointing for only one reason. A flat tire.  
And so, not only did we have a flat bike tire that day. We had a flat car tire too. 

A flat tire on the zippy, speedy, crowded A9, which required a stop off at the nearest ‘aire’ for poor, cool, calm and collected P-Daddy to repair. After, of course, removing all the bikes from the bike rack, emptying out the pieces of Middlest bike that was disassembled in order to fit it inside and finding the buried baby tire and tools needed to jack up the car and remove the offending, kapooped tire and replace it.
All under a burst of spring rain, thunder and lightning included.

You may think it’s crazy that we ever wanted to do it again. And that would be a sparkling insight into my psyche.

I’ll tell you about Thursday’s trip on Friday. Uh, hum. And Saturday’s too.


  1. We're having dodgy weather this week it seems. Hope the sun comes out for your cycle trips. Take a spare inner tube (or 3)? :)

  2. Love your post! So nice to enjoy biking as a family. We started doing that this summer - but I got sidelined due to a bike accident and breaking my elbow...but we will resume this fall - I'm determined after I finish my PT! Until then, I will enjoy your adventures and gain some insights of things we need to bring along (pump & repair kit!).

  3. A brilliant 40th birthday ambition! Mine will probably involve a sofa and a truckload of chocolate, but will try to take inspiration from your posts!

  4. It's easier to write about those kinda days after you wait a year! NOT fun!

  5. I cannot wait to hear more about your adventure!

  6. Can't wait to read about your recent trip! Cheers -Carey

  7. "Rick Stein?" Did you mean Rick Steves?

  8. Nope. I meant Rick Stein, British chef and travel show host who has a wonderful series about traveling and cooking along the Canal du Midi. Rick Steves is another great traveling Rick who serves the world up for American audiences. Maybe that was the confusion.
    Thanks for commenting.

  9. I've had this post open for a few days waiting for the time to concentrate on it. What a day! What an experience! And not what I expected from this post - so I have to read the next one! I wanted to read about it because last year husband and I biked the Canal Nantes à Brest - 5 days, about 40 km a day. And we mostly had great fun! Loved it and were thinking of doing the Canal du Midi next! Your double-flat-tire story is just too much. I'd say funny.... I can only imagine how YOU felt!


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