Day 12 – Perpignan – Ax Bonascre / 163 km

Because of the expected heat of today (up to 40 degrees in this part of France), Derk decides together with the rest of the team to start early. Derk, Frans and Wim are already up at 4.30 AM. They drive to the west side of Perpignan, were Derk starts his early ride at 6.20 AM.

The landscape is completely different from the kind we experienced the last couple of days. Plants and trees are adapted to the harsh and dry environment en the surroundings are very Spanish-like.

The first climb goes swift. However, during the descent things turn ugly: Derk is just doing 50 – 55 km/h when the experimental rear hubs blocks completely. The rowingbike makes an uncontrolled swing, but with a lot of luck Derk succeeds in keeping the bike upright and in roughly the right direction. The rear wheel is still blocked and because of this the wheel comes loose and goes an other way. The rear fork bangs on the road and leaves a metres long groove in the road surface.

Without a scratch Derk survives the accident. Let’s not think about what could have happened…

While repairing the damage the rear dérailleur gets damaged; one of the pins breaks because of fatigue. During the day we try to find a welder to repair the problem, but without success…

The failing hub was an experimental one, which is tested during the Rowingbiketour. Is seems this one can go back to the drawing board!

After a rather long break and a lot of spaghetti Derk decides to move on. But is this wise? The temperature has gone up enormously. Every sane man should stop and have siesta. Not Derk, he rides onward on another bike, the 240. This one has a 10% higher gearing, which is not really the best you can have on the step slopes around here…

Derk rides through beautiful landscapes but also extreme heat. Finally, after hours of hard work, after consuming litres of water (and sweating the same amount), after breaking a cable and the torment of stinging insects, Derk reaches the top of the last mountain, Ax Bonascre. It’s 19.20 PM when he finally steps off his bike.