Back on Corse: Ajacciio to Beach Camp (Sagone) - Lookin For John Fairweather - CycleBlaze

April 1, 2014

Back on Corse: Ajacciio to Beach Camp (Sagone)

The sun is doing it's best at breaking beneath a thick bank of cloud as I look out across the bay from the hotel balcony first thing this morning. Looks like a wet day in store. Have I been stuck here in Ajaccio all weekend in fine weather and today when the bike shop will be open and I should be back on the road later, the weather is going to break. I cannot explain how anxious I'm to get moving again. I have a horrible feeling though seeing the drive-side bottom-bracket cup twisted and stuck out at an angle from the shell in the frame it screws into that the frame's treading may be damaged. If it is, getting back on the road could be more complicated than the simple operation of replacing the crank bearings.

I shower. It may be a week or longer until I'm so clean again. Have the bags all packed and downstairs on the bike ready to go by eight o'clock. Then go and have breakfast. The morning news program is back to normal after Sunday's election and Monday morning reportage on the count with words for the political leanings such as "Le Gauche" and "Le Extreme Droit" as I work my way through cornflakes, bread, apple-mouse, yogurt, croissants and coffee until I've had my fill.

The bike shop is a kilometre ride around the bay on my loose clunking bottom-bracket. The bike shop man is just unlocking the shutters and opening up as I arrive. He crouches down and looks at either side of the bottom bracket, nods and says "caput!" He stands up and tells me to return at eleven hours. Before leaving, having wheeled the bike into the work shop, I remove all the bags and stow them in a corner the bike shop man points out until I return. Then walking away from the shop empty-handed wonder should I have taken a notebook or book to pass the time, but realise I need a map of France, so will spend the time looking for a bookshop.

I walk all the way back to the town-centre. The early cloud has cleared, being replaced by bright warming sunshine, in which I enter four Tabac-newspaper shops on the way. All have yellow Michelin maps for Corsica and nothing else. In one the man who speaks English suggests I try Le Clerc supermarche a little way along. I do but there is only maps for Corsica. In another the woman gives clear instructions in French for a bookshop here in the centre. which I've failed to find. Perhaps I misunderstood her.

I return to the bike shop at the appointed time. The bike shop man says "Non", the bike isn't ready. I point at my watch to indicate aquel heure will it be. He replies "once et demi." I glance into the workshop on leaving and see the bike is still where I left it at nine untouched, so what is he playing at. Will the bike really be ready at eleven-thirty. I pass the time on a grand café with an anxious feeling.

I'm back shortly before the half hour. I lighten with the clicking sound as he wheels my bike out of the work shop and leans it against the counter, then picks up the invoice. The bill is forty-five euros, but I don't care how much it costs. Its done and I can get back on the road. He holds up the right-hand cup from the old bottom-bracket taken out of the frame: the twisted one. It looks like a huge truck has driven over one side of it, pressing that side down like an empty can.

I follow the road uphill further out of town to an Intersport where I stop as I still want to sort out my front brake. The bike shop only had expensive topline gear and all I need is a cheap vee-brake. The mechanic in the bike department is busy, but stops the service job on a bike on the stand to sell me an eight euro vee-brake, cable and bits I need. I ask can I borrow cable-cutters. He retorts "You are touring without tools" and suggests I buy cable-cutters at the supermarche, but then measures and cuts the outer-cable to the right length and also gives me the caps for the cable ends.

Fitting the new brake takes a half hour, then further on I stop at a hypermarche to stock-up on food before leaving town. I spend a relaxed time walking around the aisles in which I find a red Michelin map for the whole of France and alcohol for my camp-stove.

The ride away from Ajaccio towards Calvi goes up a valley, then up a long winding climb. The cloud has closed in again making it feel chilly as I reach the final crest and a fog of low cloud rolls in further on as I halt at a parking place by a memorial where I sit down to a late four o'clock lunch. The inscription I translate on the base of the memorial is in memory of two firemen who were killed in 1972.

On riding on I intent continuing until dark, having set off late, but around six have descended to the coast where there's lots of good camping spots and a few kilometres on the road turns inland again, so call it a day on finding a good place.

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New Brake.
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Today's ride: 35 km (22 miles)
Total: 13,028 km (8,090 miles)

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