Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Easy Riding - Le Canal Part Deux

The second leg in our quest to bike the entire Canal des Deux Mers begins at the northwestern end where the canal meets the Garonne River on its way to the Atlantic.

Small signs in the village of Castets-en-Dorthe note that this is the place the canal begins (or ends, depending on how you look at it), but this is no tourist attraction; without any pomp, the river branches off into this amazing feat of engineering. It's the beginning of the canal's 270 mile (433 km) journey through France to the Mediterranean Sea. But for Ken and I, today's promenade will be an efficient three-hour round trip to Meilhan-sur-Garonne.

In the weeks since we decided to bike the canal, Ken has been telling our friends how easy it is.

"You can just coast along for hundreds of meters," he boasts.

Putting his theory to the test, I calculate a 10-second limit to my coasting. Despite the easy, mostly paved flat bike path, I still work and sweat for every one of the day's 40 kilometers.

I snap some pictures along the way, of course, but I am not quick enough to capture the day's most memorable encounter. We meet several groups of petits enfants, out for a ride with their teachers to celebrate the end of the school year. One group is stopped at the side of the path where the teacher is not having any luck putting the chain back on a little boy's bright yellow vélo. Ken to the rescue! He fixes the chain and amid cheers of "merci," they're on their way. And so are we.

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