Saturday, 23 June 2018

Channel to Med, part 1

Today I'm eight days into my ride. So far I've covered 304 miles. The total distance of 1000 miles is nominal but I'm more or less a quarter of the way, cos there's 32 days of riding.

I had a good drive down to Portsmouth on the Friday, marred only by a serious hold up about 30 miles out. I feared I'd miss the rental car closing time, but made it with just 10 minutes to spare.

The ferry crossing was great. I ate in the fab, full service restaurant for both dinner and breakfast. Highly recommended buffets for both. Slept well in a very comfy cabin.

I left St Malo with cloudy skies, saw Bill Bailey wandering along the shore road (yes really) and had a pleasing ride on a mix of quiet roads and cycleways, sometimes muddy. Waving goodbye to the Channel, I headed south and stayed on a campsite in Pontorson.




Monday, I chose a cycle route to Fougeres rather than the road route in my guide. Added a few miles but very relaxing. A blown tree along the way meant removing panniers and lifting the Sherpa over, helped by a kind, passing hiker. He set off and, as I sorted luggage I was greeted by a beautiful fawn, approaching the tree from t'other side.





My Helinox Ground chair front joints both broke. It still works, just, as I await a reply to my email. Rained overnight.

Set off in drizzle to Craon but it passed by the afternoon. Warden told me site would be closed tomorrow  She's having a day off. Lucky. Washed my t shirt, knickers and socks.



T'was a hard day from Craon to Chalonnes sur Loire. Busy, undulating, straight roads with long uphill drags. My not quite dry laundry was bungeed on my rear luggage. Stopping by a church I noticed one missing sock and no knickers! I almost chucked the remaining sock away but, on arrival at my campsite I found the lost one, clean and dry, hanging undamaged from my rear axle. Not the cassette side. Another overcast morning but warm and sunny again in Chalonnes.



Chalonnes to Brissac Quincé was a bit of treat. At a little over 20 miles the cycling was done by lunchtime so I had the afternoon off to relax. I enjoyed a drink with a caravanning couple, Andrew and Tricia from Suffolk.



The first night's camp at Pontorson had cost me 22 euros. A four star site with pool, bar etc but still a bloody ridiculous price. The warden at Craon called them thieves. Every other night has cost under 10 so when I saw that my planned site for Weds was a four star site I popped into the tourist information and asked them  They sent me to a Camping a la Ferme, in a vineyard. 9.20! Result. I did the same on Thursday and paid 8.



Thursday's ride was a relaxing wander along the Loire via Saumur and a lovely lunch in the centre, before finishing at a site in Candes Saint Martin.



Friday was a big un. Just over 54 miles and likely to be the longest day of my journey. Gorgeous weather. Cool morning and a breeze made for perfect cycling conditions. Camped in Parthenay.



Today, Saturday. What can I say? My Anker Powercore, usb lead and usb mains plug were stolen overnight from the shower block. To say I was upset is an understatement. This is the kind of event that can easily trigger depression in me. A phone call with Chrissie and lots of support from Twitter friends helped. In the end it was lucky I was in a big city cos I found a huge Super U hypermarket nearby and found some similar power packs. On Chrissie's recommendation I bought two 10000 mah packs (the Anker was 21000) and two plugs and leads in case the same happens again. I reckon it was I was in a big city site an low lifes regularly visit the site's shower block in the hope of finding a phone they can sell. Most of the other sites have been quiet, often almost empty. As friends have said, you have to trust folk on a journey like this. Each time I visit a shop for food my bike's outside with most of my luggage.

Anyway  time to move. I had a decent ride and met up with my friend Bernie, a mountain rescue pal. We enjoyed a fine afternoon and evening laughing and reminiscing.

I'm really grateful to all who've donated to Cancer Research UK via my Justgiving page. I love you all for your generosity. If you'd like to add your name to the list of sponsors and support a very important cause, visit here and donate whatever you wish. It'd be wonderful if I could make £1000, double my original target.

Don't forget you can follow my progress, real time, on Social Hiking. Find my page here.

Thanks for all your support, especially today.