Day 3 – 25 August 2019

I really missed the cycling holiday this summer. It was great to visit Poland and have sort out in the flat, see family and friends. The week by the sea was fantastic and then the Masurian Lakes and couple of trips through forests.

These 3 days in Dorset have been a blessing. Really enjoyed the countryside and the challenge this roads open in front of the cyclist. Today’s trip was a culmination of this beautiful places.

Woke up before 8.00. The usual – stumbled eggs, and some salad and then coffee. Left the camp just around 10 direction Fovant. Before I knew it I was going up a 15% hill, and then another and then another. First hour of the trip I did 13 km only. One of the uphills 15% was rather long maybe 0.5 km. I didn’t think I had it in me to get up this one. But somehow griting my teeth I went slowly up and up and up to the summit. Felt really good.

In Martin popped in to have a bit of a break to open studio. Had a chat with Julie and a nice cup of coffee and a very delicious flapjack. Interesting exhibition of the work of 4 local female artists.

Back on the road I took the turn direction New Forest. Before I knew it I was in Fordingbridge and getting into the pony area. The traffic coming to Fordingbridge was just unbelievable. 6 km of queue of cars.

It was great to see all the heather coming to bloom. All the way nearly purple. Then the landscape changed and I was going through a beautiful forest with some amazing pine trees smell . It started in Hamptworth and went through good few kilometres.

Then it was a quick ride through Salisbury and shopping on the way at the BP station in Barford St Martin. Then back to camp. Supper and a very rewarding can of Guinness.

Tomorrow back to London.

Rant – road kills. So many corpses through the ride. From the smallest birds, through pheasants, squirrels, badgers, weasels, birds of pray to couple of deer, well actually a doe and a dear. At some point yesterday there were 7or 8 animals dead in the space of 30 meters. It was a carnage. I understand that drivers are natural selectors of the wildlife around the world. But the views and the smell something unbearable at moments.

Day 2 – 24 August 2019

After yesterday’s rough and tough ride through the hills legs were a bit stiff this morning. Got up at 7.00. After short visit to the toilet went back to tent and slept till 8.30. Then a quick breakfast: stumbled eggs and pancetta. Some tomatoes and beetroot salad. Was out of the camp by 10.30. First bit of the trip to Mere was follow up on yesterday in terms of hills. From Mere decided to go to Gillingham.

Half way through the ride the cable for back gears snapped and I was left with the back gears on the smallest cog. Checked quickly for the closest bike shop and it turned out that it was in Gillingham. Wheels of Dorset – thank you so much for your help. They did the repair on the spot and even helped me with gear set up.

Just my luck. Every trip there has to be a trip to bike shop. From Gillingham cycled to Shilingstone. This is when the interesting part of the landscape came to me. Loads of steep long up and downhills. But the most amazing bit was the views around me. I couldn’t believe some of the landscape features.

From Shilingstone cycled through Ashmore and stopped in Tisbury to get provisions. Then a final bit to campsite with yet another 15% down and uphill. Challenging after more than 90 km in the saddle through the day.

Shower, washing and supper. What a beautiful day.

Day 1 – 23 August 2019

After yesterday’s crazy trip to Salisbury, delayed trains, jumping on and off at different stations. Waterloo went into a meltdown at 26°C. New record. Managed to get to the campsite just after 20.30. Got some basic and quick shopping done at Tesco’s in Salisbury. Supper – a sandwich and a pasta with chicken. Not the best choice.Campsite is great when it comes to the spot. A bit noisy as there is a train line going just behind the tent. Not too many trans though. Where it fails a bit is the state of facilities. The floor specifically. If looked after a bit more would have been a great little campsite.Woke up this morning at 7.00. First photo opportunity with massive fog and sun trying to get through. Afterwards – chillout for another hour and then there were scrambled eggs and a cup of coffee. Got on the road just after 10.00. First leg to Wyley. Marked with 16% uphill. It was real. And not a short one. Initially I thought I will get through there to Stonehenge. The A330 was such a busy double carriage road I decided to go back and look for different route for the day. Managed to get to Wilton. From there I noticed that I could get to Stonehenge on secondary road. Went there. Arrived at the visitor’s centre and apart from fighting with hundreds of excursionists had to pay 20 quid and wait for couple of hours to get in.Decided that I have seen enough pictures of the thing and the Spinal Tap delivered a special version of it I turned around and cycled through the MoD BV base in Larkhill – and back to Salisbury. From Salisbury managed to get to Wilton and took the wrong turn to Dinton. Went for good few kilometres before I noticed that I wasn’t going to the campsite.Had to turn around and after paying a 3rd visit in Wilton managed to get to Dinton.Shower, supper and now chilling out with a can of Life & Death IPA.

Day 24 and 25 – coming back

Bordeaux, Caen, Ouistreham, Portsmouth, Clapham Junction, Twickenham

Trip dist: 51.08 km
Total dist: 1800 km
Ride time: 4.18.26 hrs
Tot ride time: 106.29 hrs
Avg speed: 11.86 km/h
Max speed: 29.90 km/h
Alt Asc: 118 m
Tot alt asc: 18574 m
Dist Asc: 4.10 km
Tot dist asc: 515 km
Down: 130 m
Tot down: 18828 m
Dist down: 4.72 km
Tot dist down: 558 km
Max Alti: 116 m
Calories: 466 kcal
Total calories: 82773 kcal

After a practically sleepless night in the hotel I started my way back to London on the train at 7.08.

It was just a strange night that was supposed to bring thunderstorm and rain through the whole of the night, instead it was just hot and still calm before the storm. The air-conditioning in the room was working but was a bit noisy and sleeping in bed after more than 3 weeks in the tent was rather strange as well. Could have been my experience from last year when I nearly lost my train because the alarm didn’t sound. I tried the alarm several times during the trip and it worked fine but maybe just something at the back of my mind.

Anyhow, I managed to catch the train without any problems. The switch of the train was very smooth as well. Didn’t have to even change the platform. Which was great as the first train was delayed by about 7 minutes and I had 19 to start with.

The first train was TGV so it was very fast at moments. The second train was an InterCity. It was the slowest the train could go. I wasn’t rushing really so I was happy enjoying the landscape. Suddenly the train has become the busiest thing I have seen since times of communist Poland when people were jumping through windows to catch a sit. There were groups of kids coming and going to holiday camps. Suddenly there were 10 or 15 bikes. Luggage everywhere. And yet they managed to get to Caen on time.

I decided that I will take the overnight ferry from Ouistreham to Portsmouth. Arriving after 22.00 in Portsmouth would have me stranded there. So another sleepless night it was going to be. I had a ride around Caen, and then popped in to Lidl on the way out to get some food for the afternoon.

Then I had the slowest ride to Ouistreham. Stopped at some place that looked like some old bath place to have my lunch.

Got to the Brittany Ferries and had the ticket printed. Then went for a ride around Ouistreham. Visited the D-DAY landing places. Went back to the town and had 3 very strong coffees. Then it was just the wait for boarding.

On the ferry found a nice sofa and set up the camp in there. Was asleep before I remember. Woke up at 2.00 to the sound of snoring. Had to put earphones in and then woke up at 5.00. Washed myself and changed the shirt.

Got to Portsmouth train station and took the 7.28 train to Clapham Junction. Then had a ride from Clapham Junction and to the shop to get some food for later.

Feel absolutely exhausted from the travelling but I had some fantastic holidays. I think I might do it again.

Day 23 – 12/08 – Bordeaux

Camping Bel Air – La Sauve, Bordeaux on cycling path

Trip dist: 37.69 km
Total dist: 1749 km
Ride time: 2.12.36 hrs
Tot ride time: 102.11 hrs
Avg speed: 17.05 km/h
Max speed: 44.27 km/h
Avg power: 54 W
Alt Asc: 85 m
Tot alt asc: 18456 m
Dist Asc: 2.69 km
Tot dist asc: 511 km
Down: 174 m
Tot down: 18697 m
Dist down: 6.62 km
Tot dist down: 553 km
Max Alti: 139 m
Avg HR: 104
Max HR: 137
Calories: 821 kcal
Total calories: 82306 kcal

Very short trip today.

I have passed through Bordeaux twice in the past trips but never stopped to see the place.

Woke up early this morning – 6.00. I didn’t want to rush through the morning as I had the check in at the hotel from 12.00 only. So I just pondered around the pitch and the camp. Started getting my stuff together. By 8.00 I had nearly everything packed. Just waited for the tent to dry down from the morning dew. Had my breakfast and the gas cartridge gave up on me very close to boiling another cup of coffee. It wasn’t going to be. Had part of the baguette, prepared snack for later. Packed the tent and was out of the camp by 10.00.

There was no point in rushing through the ride today. I had around 40km to go and plenty of time. The cycling path to Bordeaux was really nice. Plenty of places to stop have a coffee or just visit a little village. I stopped in Lignan had a coffee and a Coke. After yesterday’s drive the back break was playing a bit so sorted it out in there. Getting better at this thing I think.

There was only one bit of the path that wasn’t well marked and I found myself on a very busy road to Bordeaux. Checked the map and the phone and decided to go back to last roundabout and there was a sign for cycling path. I just didn’t go enough through the roundabout last time. After this point I got through to Bordeaux relatively easy.

I booked a hotel room in Ibis Budget close to the train station. I didn’t realise it was opposite to the train station. Perfect as I have 7.08 train to get me to Caen.

After checking in and a shower I went to visit the Bordeaux. It was very hot. 35°C +. Had a 10km + walk around the centre of the city. Some very interesting architecture, loads of places to visit, galleries and museums. It is Sunday so quite a few places shut.

I didn’t know why I wasn’t so keen on Bordeaux before. One thing that struck me today was how dirty the streets are. There was a smell of urine and poo in quite a few places.

French don’t clean the dog shit at all.

Sadly the city is full of homeless people. Met a few Polish guys in the shady entrances to the shop or a tenement houses (kamienica).

The place is absolutely cycling and walking friendly. Loads of roads are just for pedestrians and cyclists only. I think I would have to come here in autumn or spring to enjoy the city to full extent. It was just a touch too warm for a longer walk. Maybe coming with someone the knows the place would help. It was a strange experience in Bordeaux again. I can see the beauty of the place but it is just too dirty for the weather that they are having.

Got some provisions from a small shop round the corner and came back to the hotel.

Another shower. Packed now fully dry tent and the towel. No washing today. Hopefully early night as well. Air-conditioned room for tonight. It doesn’t work perfectly but it keeps the room definitely cooler.

Will try not to make it as difficult as last year my trip to the train.

Day 22 – Pines, heather and cicadas

Camping Bel Air, Creon, Langoiran, St-Morillon, La Voile, Hostens, St-Symphorien, Guillos, St-Michel-de-Rieufret, Portets, Creon, Camping Bel Air

Trip dist: 121.08 km
Total dist: 1712 km
Ride time: 5.25.25 hrs
Tot ride time: 99.58 hrs
Avg speed: 22.32 km/h
Max speed: 37.67 km/h
Avg power: 71 W
Alt Asc: 402 m
Tot alt asc: 18371 m
Dist Asc: 12.82 km
Tot dist asc: 509 km
Down: 391 m
Tot down: 18.523 m
Dist down: 14.39 km
Tot dist down: 547 km
Max Alti: 131 m
Avg HR: 129
Max HR: 153
Calories: 4491 kcal
Total calories: 81485 kcal

Couldn’t have been so close to Gascogne and Le Lands and not step in. Remember my first encounter with Le Lands in 2010 on my way to Santiago de Compostela. I travelled through Bordeaux and went to Mimizan. Then the following day took a main road down to Bayonne.

I came back in 2012 on my tour de France.

What got embedded in my mind after both times of travel through the region: the smell of pine trees, the heather by the roadside and the sound of cicadas.

I had about 40km round trip to get in and out so I knew it will be a bit more kilometres today.

Had a coffee. The gas still lasted. I think I might be very lucky if the water boils tomorrow as well.

Had the baguette, croissant and the coffee of course for the breakfast and was out about 10.00. After crossing the river Garonne I was going through the last vineyards and getting into the forests.

I decided to take the straight as an arrow road from St-Seive to Hostens. I realised that it was Saturday and there were loads of cars and motorhomes. People finishing holidays or starting maybe. So just before Cabanac I went for a pee stop and after consulting the map I found a cycling path next to the main road. Found the path and before I knew it I was in the beautiful forest and had cycled 50 km.

Followed through the forest to St-Symphorien. I have done 35 km in the cycling path. It was great but very little happening. Counted cyclists I passed by. 16. 3 groups of 3 and 7 single individuals.

Recorded a short video

Pines, heather and cicadas

Then went through Hostens. Stopped at cemetery to get some fresh water and was off again. In St-Symphorien I went back to the road. A little bit more of excitement and things to see. I was riding through kilometres of the forest. Loved It. It got quite warm as well. So the smells were just unbelievable. Let Lands of the Gascogne never disappoints.

It was yet another beautiful cycling day. Total change of scenery and topography of the terrain. The only problem I have with cycling on flat is that I have to pedal constantly. I don’t think I pushed the pedals as many times as I did today on any other day of this trip. The cycle path was on a small slope all the time. I went up about 40m in 30km. So I had to push slightly harder there.

Apart from this the land of Le Lands is as flat as a pancake. The only uphill or down I had it was in the first and the last 20km between Creon and Portets.

Got my food from Carrefour, now chilling out. Found a little bottle of Bergerac on shelves of the supermarket.

Day 21 – 10/08

Camping Bel Air, Loupes, Croignon, Jonqueyres, Nerigean, Port de Genissac, Moulon, Tizac-de-Curton, Rauzan, Frontenac, Courpiac, La Sauve, St-Quentin-de-Baron, Creon, Camping Bel Air

Trip dist: 90.41 km
Total dist: 1590 km
Ride time: 5.12.30 hrs
Tot ride time: 94.33 hrs
Avg speed: 17.35 km/h
Max speed: 50.87 km/h
Avg power: 111 W
Alt Asc: 947 m
Tot alt asc: 17968 m
Dist Asc: 27.31 km
Tot dist asc: 496 km
Down: 956 m
Tot down: 18.132 m
Dist down: 30.16 km
Tot dist down: 532 km
Max Alti: 110 m
Avg HR: 116
Max HR: 145
Calories: 3179 kcal
Total calories: 76993 kcal

Great day in the land of wine.

Got my baguette at 8.15 and managed to prepare a coffee and some scrambled eggs. Prepared a sandwich for later and after the usual preparations I was out about 10.00.

Decided to stay all day in the vineyards and just cycled through some beautiful forests, chateau, villages, small towns and loads of slopes with vineyards. Some of the chateau totally out of the fairy tale, some very humble. Same with villages: some were just postcard pretty and some well aged.

Some beautiful little churches but I found only one that was open in St-Quentin-de-Baron. This one showed some old frescoes on one of the walls. The rest of the church was just restored.

Managed to come back to visit the river Dordogne in Genissac. Sat on a bench and had a gianormous nectarine watching the water flow. Behind, what looked like the whole of the village, had a Friday lunch by the river. Getting out of Genissac stumbled across the U-Coop. Stopped for water and some hydrating drinks.

Stopped a few times to check the quality of the grape. Every time I stopped the grapes tasted different. Sweeter, more bitter, warm – those are my favourite, all very juicy. I realised as well that they keep only the grapes at the bottom of the vine. Towards the top of the vine there are only leaves that are trimmed constantly. Some of the vines were old and weathered, there were some new vineyards being set. There is a hope for the future.

Slopes – some of them killers. 11-12%, standing like a walk in front of me. I got up as much today as when I was riding through the mountains. On some of them my legs were burning.

Fabulous day all the time round. Got lost couple of times in small roads with names of winemaker and not the place. Beautiful.

Came back to the camp and most of the people around me were gone. I guess Friday. Now the place is getting filled up with new people.

Let’s enjoy the evening.