When we arrived at Coventry’s tiny airport we unloaded the bikes. Lou’s was in a tidy bike box from Jardine Cycles, mine in a device fashioned by me and my Dad from old boxes and tape. It had home made handles and arrows and had been scientifically stress tested. My Dad is a retired engineer so took the task seriously.
The BA man said we couldn’t take them. I quoted the BA website to him. He made a call. It would be OK as long as it would fit through the cargo door of our 49-seater plane. I knew it would as it fitted in a Volvo V40. I agreed to take it to bits if needed.
The outsize baggage men were nice although they did have to open the box a bit to check the bike as it wouldn’t go through the x-ray machine.
We did crosswords and read the papers as we’d allowed plenty of extra time for arguing with airport staff about loading the bikes.
We helped a woman with two small boys and a pushchair to get down the stairs, on the bus and up onto the plane. She was moving to France forever. I checked with the cabin crew and our bikes were safely on board. The bumpy flight made me nervous – not because of myself, but because of shifting luggage.
At Lyon my bike was one of the first things off and was all in one piece. Lou’s had split along the bottom, but everything was there. A triumph for my Dad’s engineering prowess. We built the bikes watched by security and customs. One of the customs guys got fed up and came over to pump up our tyres. His colleague laughed at him and explained he was a ‘specialist’. He rolled up his trouser leg to reveal a muscled, shaved calf. He picked up my fully loaded bike and made a distinctly Gallic noise indicating that it was too heavy. We thanked him and headed off.
Tourist Information told us to cycle the D29 to Lyon. Random people at a petrol station pointed to it but everywhere we went seemed to put us on the motorway. We saw a sign for the train station so decided to get a train instead. The station was weirdly futuristic, like a bird taking off from outside but completely empty inside. It didn’t serve local stations but the woman gave us directions to the D29. We’d spent a total of an hour cycling around the airport, but if you just head for the car rental lots you pick up the D29 eventually.
We headed through Genas and Blos, though everything was shut. There was little life around. Even the petrol stations that were open were self-serve credit card ones with no staff and no vending machines.
We were getting thirsty and running low on energy so our first meal in France was a McDonalds. We sat outside with angry wasps and an arguing couple with their unpleasant child and ate our McNasty meal.
We arrived in Lyon, getting a little confused on the way in, but once we hit the Rhone we were fine.