A Real Beer With a Virtual Friend

Some of you may know Tootlepedal from his many well-considered comments on this blog, as well as his own excellent blog of the same name. Well, as luck would have it, he and Mrs. TP decided to come to le Sud and cycle around for a week, and invited Shoko and I over to their village (Pepieux) for dinner. We gladly said yes and stayed the night at Le Vieux Relais with them, taking our dinner there, along with our gracious hosts, Val and Mike.

Here are the TPs in the sitting room before dinner. That’s Mrs. Tootlepedal’s face, for those, like me, who’ve been wondering what it looked like (she’s usually bending over in the garden, or riding away into the distance, in TP’s blog).

This morning they hopped on their train in Narbonne and headed to London, while we jumped on the motorcycle and rode back to Nîmes. Following are not cycling photos, which will make this post quite unique. However, I’ll call them “cycling related”, since they were taken at the Canal du Midi – by far the most popular cycling destination in Languedoc.

First, a very old sign with an unfortunate letter missing.

Across the bridge there was a very enticing little road winding off into the vineyards.

I’m not a huge fan of cycling the Canal du Midi. I don’t really get what all the fuss is about, to be honest. First of all, it is completely flat (curiously, this is probably one reason it’s so popular) and most of it is still unpaved (there’s a great 50km exception out of Toulouse), leaving road bikes unsuitable and even hybrids uncomfortable because of the many tree roots you bounce across on the towpath. But, I have to admit, this little stretch looked quite nice.


Before the heavens opened up on our heads I got one last shot, in honor of Tootlepedal, of the bridge crossing the Canal.


It’s a lot of fun meeting virtual friends for real, and I’m glad to report to TP’s readership that he exceeded my high expectations. We look forward to seeing them in sunny Scotland one day.




15 thoughts on “A Real Beer With a Virtual Friend

  1. I certainly wouldn’t want to pedal too far along the rough tow-path as it is very bumpy but if you are not in a hurry (an alien concept for you I know), the pleasure of the surroundings makes up for the slow progress. It was lovely to meet you and Shoko.

  2. Nice to meet blog friends! (and btw…I was interested in the Canal du Midi until I read that the house boats empty their septic tanks right into the water….gaaack. Now I never want to go there, although the flat aspect of it appeals to me and my bike with the baskets…..)

  3. Fantastic! Thank you for the face-revealing photo of Mrs. TP. You have done the world a great service. As for the popularity of canal riding, I would like you to open your mind to the possibility that a great many people may enjoy the pleasant feeling of riding a bicycle worth less than 5,000 Euros while wearing street clothes and not breaking a sweat. It’s a strange notion, to be sure, but I understand such people exist in large quantities throughout the world.

    • You’re right, Steve. I’m a total carbon snob these days. I should have elaborated a little on the canal, though, I guess. Many people come over here to ride the whole thing, making it their entire week’s vacation sometimes. A few hours along a shady canal would be pleasant, even for me, but a whole trip of it…makes me shiver.

  4. Sorry not to have been able to join you! So close, but not quite there.

    My husband Roy and I rode the length of the Canal du Midi from Agde to Toulouse in 2009. He really enjoyed it, might have been his favorite part of our longer trip. It’s about riding style and preference.

    The boats especially, but also locks and towns are fascinating. It never smelled that I remember. But, anyone who wants to ride it probably should go soon. The plane trees that provide so much character, not to mention shade (and huge tree roots in the path) are diseased, as Tootlepedal mentioned. I’m told the rate of cutting them down has gone from 300 to 3000 a year. No plane trees will be tough on the canal and its economy. Can’t imagine what the loss of those trees will do to the face of much of rural France.

    Well, that was too long for a comment!

    • Now I really need to ride the complete route…and soon, as you say. Hope they can manage to replant some grown-up trees in their place at least.

      How is it being back home, Suze? Can’t wait to hear what you’ve got up your sleeve for next summer.

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