Well after having a three years off we are at it again! Mark & Becci’s Wedding got in the way of the original two year plan but in 2014 we are off to Italy to cycle the length of the country. You can follow the details over on our new blog! http://cycling-italy.beccibrown.com
Read this post to see the actual routes we took. Top speed for the trip was 43.4mph - not bad with panniers. Hottest day was a whopping 38c! Below are the logs from each day of the trip showing the exact route taken.
The last day and an 88 mile slog ahead. The route has been pretty dull today, mainly 1 road all the way & a busy one at that. Attempts at detours have been hard work with gravelly tracks or one way turns to get back on the main road, which meant crossing the non stop traffic. A few bike issues with Mark & Luc both suffering from buckled rear wheels. Our breaks have been by the side of the road or at a petrol station & food was a disappointing pizza about 25 miles out of the city.
The big day arrived & after an unplanned fix of Ian’s bike (Luc broke the valve so new inner tube required) & a monster shop for supplies we set off for the mountains. 20 miles in and we stopped for milkshakes beside the sea before heading up. I think it is safe to say that we were all pleasantly surprised by the way the day panned out. It was as if the last 2 weeks have been training for that moment.
An early start & breakfast on the road. When we set off the hotel kindly informed us that the journey to barcelona takes 3 hours by car. For us however there are 3 days to go. The hills are getting closer & we have seen the first signs for Barcelona. The terrain has changed noticeably to rocky & mountainous. We even had to pedal downhill! En route today we saw a wine bottling van in corbieres.
After a little lie in we decided to have breakfast in town rather than the hotel & enjoyed croissants at a bakery before setting off. On leaving tolouse the Pyrenees soon came in to view & have been teasing us all day. I have to keep reminding the boys that the hills are not small, they’re far away! Lunch was noteworthy today for it’s size & length. We enjoyed a traditional French casoulet with duck, sausages, beans & numerous other things thrown in.
We abandoned the planned route today in favour of the cycle path beside the canal. A nice easy ground for a 75 mile ride & a perfect place for wildlife spotting - red squirrels, otters & a kingfisher. With a poorly Ian in tow we spent 11 hours in the saddle, getting to the hotel at 20:30. Hats off to him though for making it, that boy can dig deep to keep going.
After dragging ourselves away from the rugby we set off at a late 9:30. It has been damp & drizzly all day today & a muggy 20 degrees. Worlds away from the glorious sunshine of yesterday. I, in particular, have found today to be a hard slog. I think the rest yesterday was in some ways detrimental. The boys however, have been entertaining themselves by trying to get the fastest downhill time.
An early start this morning followed by a gentle 46 miles to reach Bordeaux in time for wine tasting. Our journey included trying to keep up with a rather professional looking cyclist, which passed a few miles. We stopped at a quaint tea shop for hot chocolates & coffee. The friendly owner gave us pistachio chocolates as we left, I think she felt sorry for me having to put up with 3 boys.
Today was set up to be an 80 mile slog, but we set off early and reaped the rewards of a generally downhill day, arriving at our hotel by 5:15. Lunchtime conveniently came as we were about to reach cognac so we enjoyed a glass while we ate. Treats today included a double sized pain au chocolat, a double chocolate macaroon & some chocolate bread - delicious! After cycling past so many fields of dead sunflowers, and enjoying some hand picked sunflower seeds, we finally found a field of shining yellow, it was a van gogh painting in real life.
The highlight of today was a 2 hour sight seeing stop in Poitiers. We enjoyed a drink in front of the notre dame church, a stroll past the statue of libertie & a delightful lunch in a beautiful side street, which included 4 puddings. The weather was a very comfortable 24 degrees. Becci was concerned that she would make it through the day without handing over the mr bump badge but Ian saved the day with a spectacular fall in the supermarket car park just over a mile from the hotel.
Last night deserves more than the passing comment I gave it yesterday. The wine tasting was actually drinking a bottle of champagne & a bottle of white wine and chatting to the owners and other guests. We then headed out to the only restaurant for some delightful French cuisine and some more local wine. When in ‘the loire’… We shared our meal with a friendly Australian, Paul, who was also staying in our hotel- he has taken a month off to tour France by car, and is no doubt enjoying the opportunity to drive away with a crate of wine from the vineyard- the downsides of cycling!
Day 4 has been more enjoyable all round. Blue skies & sunshine, beautiful scenery & plentiful haribo. However we learned today that obtaining lunch in France is difficult unless you are willing and able to eat between 12 & 2! Luckily we stocked up in the supermarket this morning but lunch today has mainly consisted of cake or cereal bar type products, enjoyed in a village square. The mr bump badge has changed hands twice with becci falling over spectacularly at the top of a small hill because mark didn’t want to put his wheel out in to the road & therefore stopped rather unexpectedly.
80 miler today was always going to be hard but none of us banked on it being monotonous. After an eventful route out of paris which included climbing a huge flight of steps, cycling down some winding back alleys, & walking through a street market we found ourselves on the road to Orleans - and a long, windy road it was, about 50 miles in a straight line surrounded by empty fields and wind farms.
…with 3 boys. Ian earned the mr bump badge for falling off in the road, but don’t worry he’s ‘all rite’! We seem to be a big hit with the locals, everyone is interested in what we are doing and wants to help us - filling water bottles, moving motorbikes so we can park our bikes etc. Eiffel tower spotted first by Ian - although we’d put money on it being a pilon as it was a good few miles before we saw it for real.
A 3:15 am start, (followed by a detour back to luc’s to check he’d locked the back door) a 5 hour drive & a 3 hour ferry crossing. A 4 hour cycle taking in some beautiful scenery & we have arrived at our first hotel. Just off out to sample the cuisine & un grande vin rouge!
Ian / Luc heading through the port!!!
A wet cold ride back over to Buxton. Only Becci & Ian were about to do it today…
Today’s ride was a 2nd attempt at getting to the Ship Inn. An earlier attempt was aborted due to hunger stop at the Chat and Fiddle a couple of weeks ago. The weather was lovely as you can see from the photo:
A lovely 80 odd miles down to Nantwich through the country side! With a nice pint on the way home!