On Day 6 we crossed the border into France it was a very hot day we had a massive climb to get to San Sabastian and we were feeling really good on the bikes. The road was really quiet and shady so we got to the top in no time at all. From San Sabastian there was another big climb and the day was hotter and there was no shade. I was drenched in sweat and my hands were slipping all over the bars it was really uncomfortable. When we got to the top my head was about to explode with the heat. A couple came to our rescue and gave us some ice cold water. It was much needed. We ended up in a campsite called Ametza it was lovely and the receptionist was very helpful, but it was not quiet at night, even though they said they had strict quiet times. It was probably the worst I have been on for teenages talking by our tent the whole night.
Day 7 we rode to a campsite called le Pavilion Royal in Bidart. This campsite was really nice and we had a cool pitch under some trees everyone respected the silent times at night it was very peaceful. For food that night we made tea on the beach and saw an amazing sunset. It was a stunning view as we had the mountains as a back drop it was unforgettable. Eva was happing playing in the surf and we were happy chilling with a bottle of wine watching natures wonder unfold before us and what makes it ultra special is knowing that you got yourself there under your own steam and effort.
Day 8 we stopped at some apartments because it was an overcast day we felt we needed to recharge everything easily. We would make up the shortage in mileage the next day. I tried to book them through Booking.com, but we got ripped off as they were shockingly horrible. None the less the bed was comfy and we had a nice sleep. The ride that day was lovely through pine forests all day long. This is when the route turned to what Rachael and myself imagined in our heads when we were reading about it.
Day 9 we made up the shortage in mileage from the day before and stopped at at a site that had been pre-booked. We got there real early too. Every site as had a pool but Eva was even more happy as this had water slides. The day was again spectacular, it was pine forests all day long and the weather was beautiful, the pine trees providing the shelter we needed. The route is so well organised, sign posted and cycle paths away from traffic I encourage anyone to do the route or parts of the route and have an adventure.
Day 10 we rode with no plan and just thought we will get a campsite on the road. We saw more pine trees and this route took us through woodland as well. We had a bit of a down pour in the morning but the rest of the day was fine. Eva had some more time in the pool and we tried to replicate our other night on the beech by taking our stuff to cook tea. We did make pasta and had wine but it was really windy. It was still nice though. A bit cloudy so we did not see a sun set that night.
The days are starting to blur at this point so I will describe what I remember over the last few days since day 10.
The route has continued to be well away from the noise of any traffic, it is just beautiful tarmac cycle paths weaving through forests, this Velodessy route is just unbelievable, the veiws you have of the coast and forest are truly life enhancing. We are passing family after family with loaded bikes, kids younger than Eva that are riding the route on their own bikes with panniers, there have been many tandems with kids this is a real family friendly route and I know a few of my friends at work will be aching to come and do it with their kids. The only thing I would say is don’t pre book your campsites that is a mistake I made, the sites in most cases have enough space for one pitch for one night. We have decided to go off the plan and play each day as it comes.
We got speaking to a cycle touring family on a site where we popped in for breakfast and he told us to go see Europes largest sand dune by going around the back and avoid the tourist, we took his advice and we near enough had the dune to ourselves. We rode further and realised just how lucky we were to avoid the tourists chomping up this single path like sheep in a traffic jam.
The other night we went to a site I had pre-booked for the previous night. On this instance they were full but the manager let us put up the tent in his garden. He had a beautiful house on the site and a beautiful grey Border Collie called Laya. He let us use the pool and all the facilities it was a truly lovely gesture.
From then we got up early and cycled to a site that had a waterpark!
We cycled 75km that day and we still arrived in the early afternoon so Eva could make best use of the park. We knew the next day we needed to cover 100km to get to our site that had been pre booked because we are spending 4 days chill time on the island of Ille d Orleon.I have been here before and knew it would be the perfect place to have a bit of non bike time. The 100km was a very hard ride. We had the strongest headwind I have ridden in. EVER! As we were in the coast it was right down our chuffing faces all day long. In the morning we had to contend we the occasional down pour. I gave up putting my coat on and off as after you got soak you were dry about 10 mins later. We got the ferry across the inlet to Royan and that was the halfway point. After the ferry it was blue skies but the wind had got stronger. To get across to the island of Ille d Orleon you need to go on a 2km bridge the wind was still coming straight on and with the trailer and all the baggage it must of been the slowest and hardest 2km of my time on a bike,it went on forever! After the bridge there was still no shelter from the wind but we only had 5km left. We made the site and it has a little lagoon that Eva got straight in after we had made our way via the pool bar for a well earned White Russian. After Eva had finished the the lagoon we set up camp and made our way to the bar for food as we were too tired to cook, the food was smashing and the red wine kept on coming whilst the evening entertainment was on.
I am currently at the side of the lagoon. We are here until the 14th then we get back on bikes for a night in Rochefort.
On Sat 15th of August we drove down to Dover to get the ferry over to Calais. We did this is a Ford Ka full of camping gear and bicycles hanging off the back. If you think you need a big flash car think again, you just need good packing skills. Although a big flash car would be lovely 🙂
[googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d46353.81312957519!2d6.63685437464626!3d43.4373491970164!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x0000000000000000%3A0x0664b8ec03203f41!2sCaravaning+des+P%C3%AAcheurs!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1440498208176″ style=”border: 0;” width=”600″>
http://www.plotaroute.com worked well though and you can then ask it to print out directions and it will also show you your ups and downs (elevation) which is a good indication of when you will be smiling and when you will be grinding teeth 🙂
I also have a Garmin 800 and I have never used it to plot a route. I have just used it to show me where I am, then when I was in France I just used a paper map to plan where to go next.
Again if you were to leave the device to plot a route you would just go the shortest way between the points, so I downloaded the Garmin BaseCamp software and created custom routes and uploaded them to the device. On the device these get stored as courses. Like I say it is the first time I have done this so we can see how it will work on the ride.
When we cycled and walked the National Three Peaks (Ben Nevis, Scarfell, Snowdon) we needed to carry a bit of kit with us. We were away for six days and we needed clothes to relax in at the end of the day and clothes to walk the mountains in as well. Jervis and Roger had panniers and the rest of us had some sort of large saddle bag. I think for this trip I am going to try and travel really light and just use a ruck sack. We just need a toothbrush one set of cycling gear and one set of clothes to relax in on an eve. Underpants don’t weight that much so I am sure I will be fine with a bag 🙂
The temperature has taken a little bit of a dive again so I need to ensure I have enough layers and I have my Buff with me. I am still getting slightly annoyed with this wind when on the bike, it does not seem to be letting up at the moment. We have had one nice cycling week since Christmas, and thats it. It better start changing soon!
As I stated in my last blog, my Pacific Coast maps have arrived and I am very impressed. They are waterproof and tear resistant and have all the information you will need to get to your destination. They just show the intended route in detail and not the area surrounding the route. So if you are planning on doing some touring off the Adventure Cycling suggestion you will need to buy standard maps of the area. The Adventure Cycling maps come with additional information such as the locations of:
- Food & Drink
- Services (post office etc)
Today I supervised some students that were practicing their bronze DofE Award. A really nice day to be outside. The students were just walking so I cycled alongside, let them navigate, let them make a few mistakes, then see if they could get us back on track and even though it was just walking pace, it was still 20 miles and 3100ft of assent. So we could of gone up Ben Nevis…… nearly another 1000ft maybe 🙂
Starting to get very excited now my Pacific Coast maps have arrived from www.adventurecycling.org.
Well this is my blog where I am going to highlight my adventures. Some of them will take in a bit of walking or skiing, but most of it will be cycling. SO hence the blog title iCycle.
I have lots of trips planned (see below) and lots of previous stuff still to collate and document (see right). But my main project/holiday lined up for this summer (July/August) is cycling from Vancouver, Canada all the way to San Diego and the Mexican border. I am going to have to dip my toe over the border to say I have done my three countries!
As you may or may or may not know I have always been a cyclist but my passion for cycle touring started when I did my tour around France and you can see how that went by clicking the mega adventure link on the right. But my motivation for this Canada, USA, Mexico trip started when I came across the coolest guys and gals in the world who set up Adventure Cycling a non profit organisation. They have devoted their time producing cycle specific routes and maps across America. They definitely make me think I was born in the wrong decade. In 1974 I should of been 18 years old and not 0.1 years old. Checkout a video of the organisation below, I swear it should stir some emotion in you to give it ago. The two people that actually created the video are a couple of video journalist and have a site called America ByCycle and if you can get past their ‘enthusiasm’ they have some useful information as well. But the Adventure Cycling guys, defo cool!
This week has been eventful I got Lucile back from Pedal Sport after spending £500 notes getting my gear ratios sorted out. She came back like a new beast and when I took her out for a ride I was getting really really giddy. On the wet decent at about 40mph she slide out on a corner. She could be going to Ti heaven. If you are from the same planet as Lucile the locals there call heaven heavtium. I don’t have too long to wait for the storktium to hatch me a Lucile 2.0.
Below a picture on Lucile the night of her slippery toes. Or is it heavtium?
She did cry out out in agony her very limited vocal structure made the weirdest sound. It was very reminiscent of metal scraping on something solid, something like tarmac, that is the best way of describing it.
So in the pipeline, six days to go!
Myself, Darran Jugroop, Nic Howarth, Paul Jervis and Mark Robinson are taking on the three UK stages of the Grand Depart in near enough consecutive days. Taking our kit with us in our panniers and backpacks, stopping in B&B’s. I love this stuff and going with these boys is going to be fun.
- 12th April: Halifax to Harrogate 120 miles
- 13th April: Steady cycle to York 40 miles approx
- 14th April: York to Sheffield 120 miles
- 15th April: Van down to Cambridge. Drop van off at a national hire depot. Cycle Cambridge to London 100 miles. Then the train back up from Kings Cross with celebratory drinks in hand.