Day 29 13/08/2012

Etaples – Boulogne-sur-Mer – Cap Blanc-Nez – Calais – Dover – Twickenham

Dist: 111.7 km
Time: 6.14.26
Avg speed: 17.9 km/h
Max speed: 54.3 km/h
Tot time: 176.39
Tot dist: 3248.7 km

And to wrap everything up a great trip on the coast line.

First part of the trip relatively flat and easy. Very nice cycling path to Saint-Etienne-au-Mont. Then, well as the name suggests – there was a hill, then another and another, and another, culminating in Cap Blanc-Nez. 100 PR so meters up but for moments I felt like being in Alps again. 🙂

The road kept me guessing all the way. Beautiful end to a great trip.

D940 – if you don’t mind a bit of traffic. Nothing heavy – take the road. I think the side to go up the Cap Blanc-Nez is coming from Boulogne-sur-Mer. From Calais side the slope isn’t as steep and there is no serpentine. 😀


Day 28 12/08/2012

Sotteville-s-Mer – Dieppe – Eu – St-Valery-ss-Somme – Waben – Cucq – Etaples

Dist: 135.37 km
Time: 7.10.31
Avg speed: 18.8 km/h
Max speed: 43.5 km/h
Tot time: 170.24
Tot dist: 3137.0 km

Again, not a day is the same.

Last night had a little celebration for crossing the 3000 km mark. A few whiskeys in the bar of the camp. Went to bed around 1.

Woke up at 7 with a bit of hangover. Not good if there were all these hills waiting for me. And they were coming thick and fast. One after another.

First 2 hrs of cycling and I had 30 km. It was a hard work. As always stunning landscapes along the way. Getting from one valley to the next was just great.

By km 30 all the toxic input from the whiskey last night was gone. I was feeling really thirsty so got massive bottle of Coke and had half of it in one gulp.

After Eu hills stopped and wind started. This time I got quite lucky. It was pushing me. It was coming from the back or across but still from behind. It was really strong so keeping the bike in a straight line was quite a challenge. For moments I was all over the place and had to concentrate really hard on the road.

I think just before St-Valery-s-Somme cycling path started and it went along the route to Le Crotoy. Seems like a Sunday place for people from Boulogne.

After the first 60 km, I was going up the hill somewhere, I saw a sign 60 km to Berck. It became a good target for today. Then I saw a little shortcut on the map so decided to do extra few km and ended up in Etaples. I think I was tired. I got through the main roundabout twice checking for camping sign. Didn’t see any so stopped at a Hotel.

After the showef and cleaning, as I was going for a walk I passed by the roundabout and the first thing I noticed was the sign to camping. 🙂

Had couple of great meals today. I stopped for lunch in Lancherest at a place called Café de l’Epoque. Had a crab for starters and then beef tongue. It was exquisite, with some good, cooked veggies.

In the evening to top up calories I went to a bar called Le Roulis. Had something called Welsh. Being in France and not having a fondue would be a crime. The Welsh is basically a fondue. I had a chat with a local couple (the husband spoke English) and they said it was the best place to eat in the area.

Then, there were these very friendly waitresses. They gave me as a desert an eclair (really tasty) in a shape of a penis. We had a good laugh and a chat. Maureen and Nadia. If anybody passes by, leave greetings from Zig, please.

Apart from this – bottom really has had it, left knee playing up a bit today, right Achilles is a bit sore, legs a bit heavy, left thumb still not 100%, no hangover, cyclist’s tan, face burned by the wind today.

Day 27 11/08/2012

Dozulé – Pont-l’Eveque – Pont-de-Normandie – Pont-de-Tancarville – Quillebeuf-sur-Seine – Port-Jerome – Fauville-en-Caux – Cany-Berville – St-Valery-en-Caux – Sotteville-s-Mer

Dist: 143 30 km
Time: 7.54.16
Avg speed: 18.1 km/h
Max speed: 49.8 km/h
Tot time: 163.12
Tot dist: 3001.5 km

Woke up really grumpy this morning. I guess it was the noise from the main road that really never stopped, so I had shorter sleep last night.

After the breakfast, slowly set if to what would be a search for bridges to cross Seine.

On the way to Pont-de Normandie had couple of nice hills to go through. Then the view if the bridge itself only to be told that during holidays there is no access for bikes.

So I set off for the next bridge across the river. Pont-de-Tancarville – half as impressive as the previous – and only for motorised traffic.

I had checked for options and there was a ferry next. Had to cycle another 10 or so km.

Ferry worked and it was free again. Then it was a cycle across the Normandie.

First I had to get to the top of the hill. Then surprisingly I had really smooth run till I hit another hill just before St-Valery-en-Caux. Went through the town, and soon was out looking for camping.

I guessed that there will be loads of them on the seaside. The first I went to – posh 3 or 4*. No chance. All full. Got a list of camping places around and that was it.

So, tired I was going to set up in some field tonight or even by the sea. But cycled another couple of km and found a place. Lady sold me a piece of grass and I set up. Had a shower. Lady from the camp cooked some food, I had a beer and feeling a bit better now.

Now, I was getting a bit frustrated with the issue of the bridges. On the other hand after being on the road for a month I knew that something good must have been planned for me.

Well, I have been through the most beautiful places around this part of France. Not moment boring. The Pont-de-Normandie absolutely majestical.

Plan – I really can only set some sort of route for the next few km but this is as far as planning goes. The ride always just did itself. 😉

If you have got a chance – take the route. You will be amazed.

Well, now I have set in the tent and got my bottom in horizontal position world looks so much brighter – although it is pitch dark out there.

Camp doesn’t have any special or spectacular facilities but I haven’t been greated by so many people on the road as here in couple of hours. There was this little girl that came over and gave me kisses, then the father – nice handshake and the kusses from the mother. All so friendly and smiling without false pretences. Just what I needed to finish off the day.

They have got some sort of lottery – fair this evening.

An Extra

Today’s conversation topic (with myself on the road) – things and people that scare, annoy and make me swear or laugh on the road

1. Lorries (the massive and the smaller) – they shouldn’t be allowed on most of the roads, No respect for anything else on the road.

I hear them coming and riding position changes, grip changes, breaks on and so on… I can feel the blow for the next 200-300 mtrs.

2. Drivers overtaking coming in my direction knowing that there is no space on the road. Had to stop and get into a ditch few times to avoid collision.

3. Road barriers – if I get a ‘dickhead’ coming from the front there is no space to escape.

4. Road kills

5. Purely because they disregard all traffic rules – speed bikers – wearing Lorenzo or Rossi gear doesn’t make you god on the speed track I quite like the big Harley like bikes if they go at 50-60 km/h. Really nice slow rhythm of the noise sounds great. They know that and they know if they go faster they loose all their charm.

6. The Judas Iscariot of cycling world, the double faced, the traitors – cars and motorhomes pushing me away on the road carrying bikes on the rack at the back. No balls to get on the road by bike, just going to use it on a camp site?

7. Vans pulling motorhomes during the weekend trying to overtake another motorbike with a 10km queue. This is just purely hilarious. 🙂

Day 26 10/08/2012

Villedieu-les-Poeles – Mt-Robin – Villebaudon – Torigni-s-Vire – Caumont-l’Evente – Caen – Dozulé

Dist: 115.03 km
Time: 6.47.09
Avg speed: 16.9 km/h
Max speed: 46.8 km/h
Tot time: 155.18
Tot dist: 2858.2 km

This trip will never stop amazing me with what is hidden behind the next corner.

This morning got up as usual about 7. Had a little chat with people on the,opposite pitch and then went for breakfast.

Yesterday whilst cycling I passed a couple on bikes. Said hello and went on. I was getting ready for the big hill in Avranches. Then I met them at the camp had a quick word and went to do my shopping.

This morning I met the guy after the breakfast. I was about to leave the camp and we spent a good hour chatting by the gate.

It turned out that Francois, Belgian guy was on the road since May. Started this particular trip in Instambul. Biologist by profession, on sabbatical. His partner Julie, joint him in Avignon, and they cycled through France together. These were his last days of the trip after 4 months on the road. Next week he wss back to work. Got his blog. Will have to check later, is in French.

After an inspiring chat it was time to say till next one and get on the route.

And it was a fantastic ride again. I think stopping before the 6hrs in the saddle yesterday has helped the recovery. I felt do much more lively this morning. It could have been the chat with Francois, can be the comments I got last night from the blog.

Anyhow, first part started with an uphill, then it was the Mt-Robin, nice and steady uphill. It took be good 1/2 hrs to get there.

If you are around this part of France do the route I did today. Not a single boring moment.

After the hill there was a bit of down and then I turned into D13. My gosh, absolutely great few minutes if cycling. Really great downhill. Then of course came the hills.

I really don’t mind uphills if they are long and if there is a nice downhill afterwards. And there were loads of them. Unfortunately I hit stronger head or cross winds. These were slowing me down, but not to the point of being a nightmare.

There was a strong uphill to Caumont-l’Evente, stopped there in a little bae.g. The lady in the shop spoke perfect English and we had spot of a chat with her.

After Caumont-l’Evente the road went down and down and down. Well maybe there were a few uphills but nothing major.

By 3 o’clock I was going through Caen. Missed the town couple of years ago, so went to see what was it like. Really pretty. Great landmarks: castle, little streets. The navigation, or rather lack of signposts, tricky single direction roads, some letting bikes in some not, and road closures was the downside.

As I felt still quite strong I decided to go ahead. Got to Troarn, at the exit from Troarn i got a quick look at the landscape in frint of me. There was a liitle spot on the busy road that offered the preview for a very short time. Again it was like a magic. All hills and slopes, forests and fields, and was still feeling good so I went ahead to Dezule.

Found a nice hotel and did all of shopping for tomorrow. All stuff is dry and clean.

Day 25 09/08/2012

Tinteniac – Combourg – Pontorson – Le Mont-St-Michel – Ponteaubau – Avranches – Villedieu-les-Poeles

Dist: 95.63 km
Time: 5.46.24
Avg speed: 16.5 km/h
Max speed: 45.7 km/h
Tot time: 148.30
Tot dist: 2743 0km

Once more the ride couldn’t be any more different from previous days. Today I really had to work hard.

But let’s start from the early morning. Around 5 there were cars fighting on the camp for a good few minutes. One of them escaping nearly fell into my tent.

Then there was the familiar noise of the refuse collection track at 5.50. They were on the job for good 20 min compressing and getting bins.

Then a few minutes later came the one that gets all the recyclable stuff.

They copy me,awake so no wonder when I got back to sleep I was in bed till 8!.

Got the camp up relatively quickly and was out before 9.

First 20 km were very slow. Back to the hills. Had to stop and have a breakfast, chose really beautiful spot in small woodland and enjoyed the meal. Bought stuff last night so had enough to last for a few hours.

The road was hard going till km 30. Then it got better and it was plain sailing to Mt-St-Michel. Haven’t seen so many people together for ages. Scary!!! Didn’t realise how touristic the place was. Massive tourist infrastructure build around. So I had a look and took off.

Have to admit that arriving to Mt-St-Michel was quite emotional. Another coast touched during the trip. Don’t know if it was the fresh breeze or it just me.

Getting to Mt-St-Michel and having lunch there gave me energy for next few km.

Somehow I managed to find all little roads and then it was time to get into hills big time. It was like being in the Alps again. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing in front of me.

Avranches – oh my God. It was Gap in miniature. Still, it took good 1/2 an hour to get up the hill. Views were magnificent again.

After Avranches I knew I was getting myself into a trouble. Little stretch of 20 km of straight road wearing quite a few gradient marks on the map. It was a call for trouble.

Somehow got to Villedieu-les-Poeles. Saw, camp sign – and was quickly setting up the tent. Anything close to Mt-St-Michel is freaking expensive. Camp today €20. They were serving mussels and fries so I went for it. They were advertised in all bars and restaurants along the way. I just had to have some.

Got provisions for tomorrow in a little Carrefour Express in the village. Beautiful – by the way.

Somehow I missed the pass from Britagne to Normandie. I guess it was when I started seeing all the carts with flowers and beautiful houses with loads of flowers on them.

Now got to figure out the route to Calais. It is a tricky one.

There is a live performance at the camp tonight. Elise – she ain’t bad and this is good. Correction – she was much better as Edith Piaf than Lisa Minnelli.

Have to add – it was great to read comments and messages this morning. Very energising and motivating. Thank you.

Day 24 08/08/2012

Blain – Beslé – Pipriac – Maure-de-Britagne – Plelan-Le-Grand – Iffendic – Becherel – Tinteniac

Dist: 122.98 km
Time: 6.56.08
Avg speed: 17.7 km/h
Max speed: 45.0 km/h
Tot time: 142.39
Tot dist: 2646.7 km

Different day – different ride.

Woke up this morning as usual in the camp – 6.50. By the time I left it was 8.50. Had a coffee with Didier this morning as well.

First 20 km great 1 hr and it was a blast.

Then it started. The swing of Up and down hills. Those uphills that were killers and it went on nearly to km 112. The moment I arrived to Becherel. Really difficult to get some rhythm into cycling. Downhills are too short to give a rest or to get a momentum to go up. And then slow cycle uphill. I was thinking of getting to Dinan, but on the road I realised that adding extra 20 km to today’s ride might be a bit ambitious.

The road took me through beautiful forests, great countryside, picturesque little villages. All was there.

So I decided to stop in Becherel. I think one of the nicest towns on the route today. Getting there took good 5 km of tough ride constantly uphill.

They didn’t have a camping and the closest option was to get to Tinteniac. Another 9 km of cycling. And I had my reward for all hard work put today. The route was great. Again very well balanced with really nice downhills and uphills that I could take on on the run. Great tarmac that didn’t’slow me down. Oh, it was great experience.

Camping €3.49. And they got good facilities. Went to a restaurant near by and had great meal. Really well prepared veal.

Tomorrow will try to get closer to Mt-St-Michel. And then head east.