So here it is! Stages 1 and 2 complete of my epic. Have cycled from Brighton (UK) to my folks place in Les Loges, which is somewhere in the middle of France. In total that’s about 680km in 8 days and included a stop off in Paris to go see the missus. As any body who owns a bike would know, that’s a good distance to cycle without getting a puncture. As any body who knows me would know – yes that’s about 30 days since leaving home it’s taken me to get a blog up and running!
The decision to go on this epic cycle adventure tour came in August 2011 following a trip to Spain. Less than a year later and I am doing it. Planning for this has been a big learning curve and the first bridge to cross is making that ‘decision’ to go. A lot does depend on personal circumstance and commitment but that all adds up to give you a date when to go, and for how long. From reading stories of other people’s adventures online, it sounds like regret is rare.
Best cycling so far? Has to be the Avenue Verde that starts just after Dieppe and gets you a fair way towards Paris, and a day spent following the Loire river down stream. I would recommend them both as perfect short break cycling holidays. Long traffic free sections, well signposted and no big hills!
Experience to date puts route planning and navigation top on the list of importance. Finding those perfect tracks is well worth it. Using GPS is new for me and is proving a very amusing gadget. A cyclist recorded and posted a brilliant track that took me from the door on the Ferry in Dieppe right to the Eiffel Tower without hardly a glitch. Downloading Google Maps walking routes has been a bit more abstract and included really cool MTB single track and forest paths but also the occasional duel carriage way and down the wrong way on many one-way streets. Even totally cross-country a couple of times.
Next for me is to fine tune my stage 3 route to Santiago in the west of Spain, which I have been doing from the comfort of the caravan in my parents back garden. Will be the longest stage of my trip yet and hope to complete it sometime in the middle of July. Shame I cannot tow the Caravan on the back of my bike.
For those that are interested, here are links I have been bookmarking throughout my planning:
- www.sustrans.org.uk – UK network of cycle routes – some of these routes I use regularly and really appreciate them
- www.eurovelo.org/routes – European network of cycle routes. A brilliant idea but seems most of the routes don’t yet actually exist (unless it’s just me being hopeless at finding them)
- www.cycling-loire.com – I am already making plans to do this route next year – looks really easy!
- www.sheldonbrown.com – Technical information about bicycles. Yet to find any websites that even come close to matching the knowledge of this chap
- www.caminosantiagodecompostela.com, www.santiago-compostela.net, www.elcaminosantiago.com, pilgrim.peterrobins.co.uk… the list goes on! There are so many web sites about this route it’s enough to drive you bonkers
- www.pyreneeshike.com/route.html – GR10 Hiking route over Pyrenees that has me interested
- www.worldtravellers.dk, www.mark-ju.net and www.tour.tk – Long distance cyclists who have started putting ideas into my head
- www.loadedtouringbikes.com – Lots of photos of loaded touring bikes
- cyclingeurope.org – The misses has been reading this guys book and has subsequently been offering me advice such as taking a big tub of vaseline
- www.guardian.co.uk/environment/bike-blog – An easy way to loose many hours to reading blogs when you should be doing something else