When Annette Morris of La Franglaise told me that there was an event Renestance should sponsor, I was ready to listen. Cancer Support France was planning a five-day cycle event along the famous Canal du Midi – CSF provides support to English-speakers dealing with cancer while living in France, definitely a charity I can get behind. I happily agreed for Renestance to supply drinks and refreshments for the finish line of the final day at Marseillan Plage.
On Thursday, 11th of June, around 2:30 pm, Jen, Nicole, and myself from Renestance joined CSF volunteers and several local helpers (special thanks to Jenny G. and Pam K.) There was a slight moment of panic when Annette sent me a message that some of the riders might arrive closer to 3 pm than 4 pm! We quickly got the tables and umbrellas up to begin food-prep in the shade. By the time the first riders arrived, the cool fresh fruit, saucisson, cheese and most importantly, the chilled water, wine, and beer were all nicely displayed. With so many efficient helpers it was quick work.
The cyclists were quite happy to finish the 33km ride along the bumpy canal path. Large parts of the trip were under the blazing sun, due to the demise of so many of the plane trees. Those who had ridden all five days, starting in Toulouse, said that each leg had been quite different. They glowed from the experience, citing the camaraderie and laughs, the critical assistance from the CSF volunteers, and the surprising interest and support that came from the local communities they crossed. The 61 riders came from far and wide, including Australia, Switzerland and South Africa, and from all professional backgrounds.
Gwen W., who’s been living in a village near Pau for the past 4 years, felt the group was making memories. One her favorites was sleeping on a péniche (barge) one night and having breakfast on the deck while gazing at the canal. John and Barbara, from a village near Albi, camped all four nights and said they were racing the rain for two days. They ended up eating muesli for dinner one night rather than venture out into it. The most memorable part of the event for them was actually getting to the finish line in a police car! They had left their camper van at a campground in Marseillan but arrived to the campground only to find it had gone bankrupt and their camper had been impounded. All ended well, however. Some cyclists rode to the train station, some to their parked vehicles, and some over to the beachfront hotel to enjoy a bath and a soft bed.
Team Renestance enjoyed the convivial afternoon and the opportunity to explain the new company’s mission. Everyone involved from the CSF side, from the administration to the volunteers and even the supporters, was delightful. We’ll be happy to support them at another event in the future.