OK Dookes, where have you been?
Well, first up many apologies for the blog stopping mid-way through my last trip. Secondly, many thanks for the various messages I received from folks worried that something had happened to either Harls, myself of both.
Fear not dear Blogonaughts, we are both fine!
What we did have though was mega Internet connection problems that have continued even since I returned home. This makes Dookes a very unhappy Hogrider!
The good news is that we are now back on air and I’m going to set about catching up with the blog.
So where was I when I last reported in? Oh, yes Carcassonne.
Carcassonne was OK. Just OK.
I know that it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, but I have plenty of those back home. Yes I know that millions of people will disagree with me about Carcassonne, but this is my view and my blog and like the Eagles sang, “ You call some place paradise, kiss it goodbye.” For my part, the best thing about the place was the road out!
And what a road it turned out to be…
When I was doing my route planning, it must’ve been a late night when I did this bit. For some reason I overlooked the bit on the map that said “Montagne Noire”. or in English, The Black Mountains, between Carcassonne and Mazamet on the D118 road.
I hadn’t slept very well, it had been hot and stuffy and I don’t like the drone or air-drying effect of air-conditioning, so that had stayed off. The morning air was still and heavy and to be honest I really wasn’t in the mood for much motorcycling. That’s the thing about serious road trips though, you may not be in the mood for it, or the weather may be crap, but you just have to suck it up and get on with it; which is what I did.
Eventually the strong breakfast coffee began to hit in and I began to wake up to things a bit more. No actually it was getting cold, quite noticeably cold actually, cool enough for me to pull up and put on another base layer.
The Montagne Noire may not be as high as the Pyrenees, but at over 1200m/3900ft that’s high enough to feel the cold!
The D118 meanders for around 30 miles North from Carcassonne to the busy town of Mazamet, famous for the production of cloth and leather goods. Unfortunately much of the road is in fairly dense forest and only offers very fleeting views of the impressive scenery, but from a motorcycling point of view it was delightful; lovely sweeping bends, smooth tarmac and little traffic. The region is quite off the normal tourist routes and quite charming for it, in other words it’s unspoilt! I made a mental note to return one day and do some more exploring.
We paused high above Mazamet to take in the view and also take off the extra layer, things had started to hot up again; then it was down more sweeping big hairpins into the town below and the usual French town traffic chaos that I love!
From Maz we turned a bit North West and skirted Castres, famous for a pretty good rugby team and headed cross-country on delightful roads to Gaillac.
Gaillac is really the start of serious French wine country; they’ve been producing the local stuff here for over two thousand years. The town has an appellation that carries it’s name and I can confirm that the stuff is very good indeed!
We carried on effortlessly rolling over the back roads towards Caussade and our destination for the night, Cahors.
The ancient town of Cahors is yet another famous wine producing centre, but I’ll tell you more about the place next time, for now it’s just good to be back on air again!
“On the road again,
Goin’ places that I’ve never been.”
Catch you soon