We awoke early the next morning and hopped in an Uber to meet the rest of the gang for breakfast before our pickup. Thirteen of us total: a combination of Mongol Derby Veterans (over several years), Derby hopefuls, and those who have an “in” with a Derby rider. An eclectic group of riders from across the globe and several disciplines.
I awoke with a sore throat – no doubt I had picked something up somewhere over the Atlantic. Greattttt. Sandra brought me to a pharmacy and we did our best to describe what I was looking for… I have to say, the lozenges were not what I expected or what I am used to in North America (down the road, I found regular Ricola cough drops at a gas station), they were minty and chalky like a calcium tablet. Not sure if something got lost in translation, but I suppose at least they made a decent breath mint. Thus began my nasty chest cough routine – Eat Sleep Cough up blood, Ride, Repeat. On the bright side, I had no fever, no lack of energy, and American Sarah as we called her (can you guess what I was called?) is a doctor and took great care of me.
But back to day 2 – we all boarded into the van for the long drive from Paris to Florac. We found out that there was some uncharacteristic weather (understatement!) in the area, and we would be staying for 2 days in Florac instead of where we had originally planned for day 1. Why? Because the horse trailer couldnt make it through the TWO FEET OF SNOW. Yes, this was mid May, and yes, this was in Southern France, and yes, the week before the weather had been in the 20s. No, none of us had packed for this particular weather. We did take inventory of our warmest clothing and added up exactly how many layers we could wear before we became too poofy to ride.
Close to 8 hours on the road, but the van was never silent. Get horse people together… you know what happens.
We arrived and settled into our hotel. I bunked with Katja and we enjoyed the decor outside our room in a series that we dubbed “What The France!”
At some point we all wandered down to get a look at our group of horses who were camping just a short walk down the road. We met Jean and Valerie, our guides for the trip. We also had our first of many fabulous home cooked French meals (with lots of wine of course!) and got the low down on what to expect for the trip.
Once again, bellies full of bread, cheese, and wine, we drifted off dreaming of the next day when we would be paired with our mount for the next 6 days of riding.