So here I am having a rest day in France. Needless to say its raining. I’ve been lucky so far with strong winds pushing me along for the first few days and sunshine for the others. Yesterday was the first day of riding into the wind, but I didn’t care as the riding was beautiful, including the section through the centre of Nantes and out again
Since leaving I’ve been slowly settling in. The route has been quiet and gentle following ancient farm tracks, tiny roads and the Nantes Brest canal. The canal in particular was enjoyable as it is so relaxing to ride along. Nothing ruffles its feathers and therefore nothing ruffled mine.
It was a bit of a rude awakening to find myself approaching Nantes, but cycle ways led all the way in despite the lack of signs for the Velodysee cycle way. Before leaving I downloaded the GPX track to my iPhone and used this to navigate where I have needed to. There are missing signs but its not a big deal as long as you have a way of checking.
The tranquility of rural France and the politeness of the drivers here is astonishing. Where else do cars stay 20 metres back until the road is clear once again? I’ve passed through just a few places, such is the rural nature of the trail I’m following. It certainly isn’t direct but I don’t care as its one long thread of joy.
On the ferry there were quite a few cyclists. I talked to all of the, at some point but I spent a day riding with Joe and his French guide. I had to laugh when they caught me up having gone ten kilometres down the canal towards Brest before realising they were heading the wrong direction.
Joes friend Gavi bought me lunch to set me on my way before he headed off.
Joe and I rode the next day together before I took a rest and he carried on. I hope our paths will cross once remorse, who knows?
Van turned up at a campsite and then left. I met him again the day after when we both pitched up at the same site for the evening. He hates the west coast due to it being relatively expensive so he is heading inland.
All the way to here I have seen riders touring. Some are out for the weekend whilst others are setting of for Istanbul and other places. There is no age barrier with far more of the touring riders being over sixty than under. It’s really nice to see. The Voie Vert, or green ways that make up these routes are quite something. The maps are free in tourist info centres and they give a lot of information for riders to use.
Most celebrated incidents to date are setting fire to my helmet by flicking a cigarette away and having my iPhone fall off the bike and getting dragged along the floor. Both are fortunately fine despite my attempts to kill them.
My health is good. It was very stressful riding into Nantes but only because of my own terror of cities. Once underway it was surprisingly easy and the campsite near the centre is fabulous. The aches and pains in my joints only really give me any concern at night. I must get a better mattress at some point. The cold has been tough I’ve worn most of what I have for the first few days and the nighttime temperature has plummeted every night apart from two when it clouded over.
With 500 kilometres completed in six days riding I’m very happy. The terrain has been easy, long may it continue. I can feel my bady adapting to the riding. Eating well is easy in France as one as you like cheese, fruit, sausage, ham, salad and bread. I’ve eaten a few hot meals but its been pleasant enough to munch on cold, dare I say summer, food.
The cost of camping will more than double now I’m on the coast. Let night I asked the tourist office to phone two sites. The outcome was a 100% saving on what I would have paid had I pulled into the first I saw. It pays to ask and the simple campsite I’m on has all I need: great shower, water, peace, and wi-if. Perfect.
See you all next time 🙂
Please donate to Sustrans at http://www.justgiving.com/Graeme-Willgress1.
So there we are. I’m heading south now and should be in La Rochelle in three days time. From here the route hugs the coast tightly and I’m looking forward to that.