After a relaxing day by the pool and lunch beside the sea, my thoughts turned to the issue of preparing the bikes for the trip home.
I went off to the hotel garage where two large bike boxes had been stored since they were couriered here by James 4 Distance. On YouTube there are lots of helpful videos on how to prepare your bike for the bike box so I confidently laid out my tools and took a deep breath.
An hour later I had poor old George stripped to his component parts, tyres deflated, bars, saddle, pannier rack etc. all off. That all took about 5 minutes. The rest of the emotional hour was spent wrestling with the Allen key and the pedals. I just couldn't get them to budge and even the beefy looking receptionist went purple trying to help. I went back to YouTube for more advice and called both James and Steve, my cycling gurus, but whatever I tried failed to move the pesky little blighters. Finally Emma's cousin Jeff arrived and we went off for a jolly family dinner and hoped that the genies of the night would resolve the issue.
In the morning I set off to the garage filled with new resolve and decided to tackle Marjorie this time. That went perfectly and the pedals came off just as they do in the video, no problem. Back to George and plus grand problem, they no budge pas. The hotel handyman arrived for work and, blowing out his cheeks, went off and found a 15mm wrench and his own set of Allen keys. More sweat and swear words and still no budge pas. Quelle domage!
Finally it dawned on me that this was not going to work and George's carcass needs some professional help. It is obvious now that the new pedals fitted in Mazan are not going to come off without some proper kit. Well, that is not easy in Antibes which is heavy on Dolce and Gabana or Bentley but distinctly light on little bike work shops.
Anyway, long story short. We are coming back with the two bike boxes if Flybe will accept them. My mudguards went into the bin (blooming useless anyway) and the wheels, saddle, panniers, pannier racks etc. etc. are all wadded with Lycra in the bike box. George's carcass, with pedals firmly attached, is coming home in a big cardboard box wrapped in lots of packing tape, by courier.
So 850 miles across France, nearly every mile a total joy. No punctures or major mechanical issues, a few relatively unstressful navigational challenges but all resolved, only to be totally flummoxed by some pedals that have been welded on by an over enthusiastic bike mechanic in Mazan. So the €50 that I thought was well spent on new pedals was not only wasted as both broke within 200 miles but has interfered with my otherwise Zen like state of mind. I can only hope that we get our bike boxes back on the plane tonight and that George eventually makes it back to Blighty. After all he's been through he deserves a safe homecoming.