Things I Have Learned Whilst Cycling Across Europe

1. Do not skimp one single penny on cycling padded/gel shorts.  Spend as much as you can afford and then a bit more.  You will not regret every pound that you have spent.  I spent almost the entire trip wearing both pairs of my cheap(ish) shorts at the same time.  Your arse is going to take a hammering – help it as much as you can!

2.  It is possible to get callouses on your arse cheeks.  I asked the question at the beginning of the blog and now have the answer.

3.  Get as many hours in the saddle as you can before you leave.  I did my best whilst working full time but somehow wish I’d done more – take the long route home instead of the short one – you won’t regret it.

4.  Have a route plan (buy the maps in advance, you can’t get them in shops) and a vague itinerary (you don’t want to rush the beginning or, conversely, the end) but don’t be a martyr to it – things happen, plans change, your legs will get tired.  We also used maps.me, which was superb in towns but a bit erratic out in the country.  In Romania and Bulgaria there are no EV6 signs at all, they start in Serbia but even then they can be erratic and illogical – a 5 mile detour up and down hills to avoid 1 mile on what they deem to be a “main” road is ludicrous when the road is, in reality, very quiet.

5.  It’s great to have friends meet up with you en route but be aware this will mean you do have to stick to your itinerary.

6.  When your friends leave give yourselves a couple of days off – your liver will thank you (this obviously depends on the kind of friends you have – we only seem to have one kind!).

7.  The dogs in Romania are a nightmare and just as bad as everyone tells you.  They seem to have a “dog chasing” gene.  We didn’t get bitten but we got chased – a lot.  On the plus side – a) being chased increases your average mph dramatically (and male cyclists seem to like this) and b) if you start in Romania all other dogs you encounter will seem like tender little kittens.

8.  Cycle with someone you know really, really well.  You will fall out – probably daily.  Our biggest fall outs occurred in towns/cities and usually almost entirely due to navigation and/or my decision to get off Fred and use the pedestrian crossing(s) to cross the hideous junction, leaving Matt in the traffic on his own!  If you know each other well you will still love each other after these little “moments”.

9.  In an ideal world, if camping, spend every 4th night in a hotel.

10.  50 miles a day is enough.  Unfortunately there are neither hotels or campsites conveniently placed at 50 mile intervals but make this your aim.  Everyone we spoke to agreed that 50 miles/80 kilometres a day is enough.

11.  Take time out to see things and places en route and also allow time for admin.  However carefully you plan it, life at home will still need your attention and it’s good to keep in touch with friends and family – allow time for this.

12.  Stop to take photographs – it may seem like a pain at the time but you won’t regret it.

13.  If you don’t keep a blog then do keep a diary.  You will quickly forget where you’ve been and stayed – you won’t think that you will but …. you will.  After four weeks you won’t remember where you stayed the night before!

14.  Wear your helmet at all times!!  We lost count of the number of cyclists carrying their helmets on the back of their bikes.  If you’re going to carry a helmet, why not carry it on your head?!  Matt’s worst fall happened right at the end, on a cyclepath and his helmet was embedded with gravel which, otherwise, would have been embedded in his head.

Above all, try to enjoy it!!  OK, some of this hills might feel like they’re going to kill you (they won’t) and you might want to kill your cycling partner at times (you won’t) but, almost universally, the scenery is amazing and the people wonderfully kind.

The one thing that has struck me most about our whole experience is the fact that you can cycle right across Europe almost entirely on green paths, cycle ways and quiet roads (it would be relatively easy to miss some of the big cities we went through) and the flora and fauna we saw was incredible – more snakes than I have ever seen in my life, birds (including birds of prey), tortoises and wild flower verges, hedges and woodlands that are simply extraordinary.

We both feel incredibly privileged to have cycled the whole of EV6 through 10 European countries and it’s been an unforgettable experience.  Would we do it again?  Well, actually, this has been discussed! BUT we would definitely do it from west to east next time – no head winds – just glorious tail winds to blow us along!!  Just give me a couple of years to recover!

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Roscoff to Home!

Miles ridden today – 6 (our shortest day!!)

Total miles so far – 3,225

We left Roscoff in thick mist and drizzle – this was the view from our hotel window at 7am:

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But probably better to be leaving in these conditions than on a glorious sunny day when we’d have been wanting to spend the day on the beach.

We’d never cycled on to a cross-channel ferry before – yet another first – here we are in the queue:

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And then on to the boat (cycles are looked after very well with their own lane):

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We had booked a cabin, which was probably the best £21 we have ever spent, and was surprisingly spacious:

Had breakfast on board – fruit, yoghurt and pain au raisin vs the full English – vive la difference!

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And then watched as France disappeared into the mist listening to the numerous car alarms going off (presumably the drivers who didn’t know how to disarm their alarms when asked to do so – that would have been us!!):

And then retreated to our cabin for 6 hours of reading and dozing.

Going back to our bikes we met 2 French bikers (on Harley Davidsons, not push bikes) who were travelling to see friends in St Austell.  When they heard that we’d cycled from Romania they declared us “crazy” – they may have a point!

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We had a quick cycle up to Plymouth station and almost immediately bumped into friends from Penzance – such a small world!!

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We were early for our train and the previous one was delayed so we actually managed to catch an earlier train – yay!

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And in due course we arrived in sunny Penzance!

And then had a lovely ride home (with the obvious head wind – seriously – we did!) 500 feet uphill (just as a final punishment but with this one we know every twist and turn!):

Reacquainting ourselves with some of the neighbours:

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And then home (somewhat overgrown):

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For some reason Matt decided that Ginger should spend the night in the kitchen – I think it was mostly to do with the fact that he couldn’t be bothered to unpack her – which added to the general air of chaos:

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I had a fantastic hot bath with Dead Sea Salts to ease my aching muscles and a glass of Prosecco on the side.  Matt discovered that the loo seat in the main bathroom has now come off completely and so he is sitting on porcelain – alarmingly he is now rather used to this after campsites in France but “new loo seat” is definitely on the list of jobs (which is frighteningly long).

Today has mostly been spent cleaning.

Shot Glasses

We have a tradition in our family (started by the boys) that we buy a shot glass wherever we go.  After the entire family’s recent travels we are going to have to buy a bigger cabinet.  Here is our shot glass collection from this trip – from left to right (or west to east if you’re thinking geographically): France (Chateau Clos Luce – Leonardo da Vinci’s home), Switzerland, Germany (source of the Danube), Germany, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia (Vukovar), Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania:

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Quite impressed that I got them all home in one piece!

In a couple of days or so I’ll do a final blog on “Things I Have Learned When Cycling Across Europe”.

For now we are eating home cooked curry and drinking gin!!

PS: Our new friends Barbara and Guy have calculated that the total ascent for the trip was 162,804ft (49,622m), which is the equivent to climbing Everest (from sea level) 5 times.

PPS: I have lost no weight whatsoever – not even one pound – unbelievable!!

PPPS: I can say it now (don’t mention the “P” word) – we didn’t have one single puncture!!!!

 

 

Carhaix to Roscoff

Miles ridden today – 51

Total miles so far – 3,219

So, we made it to Roscoff and – for the first and only time – here is a guest blog from Matt:

Got up at 7 o’clock trying to avoid the masses for the ablutions.

Queued, abluted and came back again.

Made Jules a cup of tea.

Packed up.

Rode some horrendous hills.

Arrived in Roscoff.

After 3.5 months I dreamed of curry and ended up with this:

Still starving.

Going to bed.

(And very much lighter in the pocket.)

 

Pontivy to Carhaix

Miles ridden today – 57

Total miles so far – 3,168

Well, the search for a hotel didn’t go well – one called Manoir de something which we didn’t really feel up to – we have no clothes suitable for a manoir of any kind and another in town which refused to let on what its prices were but comments referred to there being “arguments” over the bill – having been quoted 60 Euros and then being charged 100 – we weren’t up to that either and there was no way to book on line so, guess what, last night in the tent it is!!!!  And it really is last night in the tent tonight because we have a hotel booked for tomorrow – hooray and hoorah!!  We are so tired of the whole camping thing that we haven’t even showered tonight – filthy beasts that we are!  The shower tomorrow had better be good!

This is me doing the blog this morning!!!  It was cold and that can of tonic water (left over from last night) didn’t even have any gin in it!!

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After a wet night campsites are always slow to get moving – there seems little point when we are all going to be waiting for our tents to dry and we are all cold so it was a late start for us today.  Beautiful old mill building on the canal:

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A classic WTF moment on the canal bank:

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I think they call it “art”!!

You may (or may not) remember from yesterday:

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That a section of the Nantes-Brest canal (including 12 locks) was submerged under the reservoir created by the Guerledan dam (which in turn is a hydro-electric power station).  So, today we had to cycle round that reservoir and dam which, in reality, meant one stinking great hill followed by miles of gentle uphill on the site of a former steam railway line.  At the top of the stinking hill someone had (kindly) written “BRAVO” across the road:

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Here I come:

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Yay!  Made it!!

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We then had a very attractive up and down hill section through woodland – spot me in the trees!

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I think it would be fair to say that we were both feeling weary today – it may be psychological as much as anything else but we were finding it all pretty hard work and we had another big flight of locks (ie, hill) to climb this afternoon – we were mighty relieved to reach the top:

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184 metres is just over 600 feet and we felt like we’d been climbing all day (which we had, pretty much!).

After that, of course, we had the joy of a downhill section.  There had been no boats on this section of the canal at all and we assumed that meant/means they are doing some restoration work (which would be lovely).  Lo and behold we reached a section which has been drained completely and all the bottom lock gates have been removed (we assume for repair/restoration work).  This is what an empty canal looks like:

It would be really lovely if this is all navigable again one day as it really is very pretty:

We are now in the municipal campsite in Carhaix, which is actually very nice and, somewhat unusually for a municipal campsite, has a cafe – hoorah!  Turns out it was the most chaotic cafe we have ever eaten in but the burger and chips (which arrived 5 minutes after we’d finished the burgers) were good and the wine was chilled!

We haven’t actually paid yet as the managers had left by the time we got here but I imagine it’s going to be pretty cheap.

Tomorrow …… Roscoff.  Can’t quite believe it!

Malestroit to Pontivy

Miles ridden today – 46 + 5 yesterday to the Museum and back = 51

Total miles so far – 3,111

As predicted the rain continued on and off throughout the night but the forecast that it would continue in earnest from about 10am was a few hours out and we managed to cycle til lunchtime before it was a case of waterproofs on and just keep on pedalling! However, unfortunately, it has turned really quite cold and we are now in our warm weather gear – Matt is wearing long johns in bed and I cycled all day today in my long sleeved top (and waterproof coat all afternoon) :-(. Brittany in August is most definitely feeling like autumn. This is me last night in the tent in my sleeping bag – drinking gin!

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The Nantes Brest canal continues to be delightful and I quite fancy doing it by boat one day but Matt says there are too many locks!  When we were children/teenagers on the canals in England we quite liked the locks as they gave us something to do but the last time we were in France on the canals Tom locked himself in their bedroom and said he wasn’t coming out to do any more “bloody” locks.  He would need counselling on this canal!

Passing through Josselin we passed the spectacular chateau on the bank of the canal:

We stopped for lunch as we could see the storm approaching:

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And then prepared for the worst:

Selfie of the Day:

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And then the heavens opened and we had no choice really but to continue in the rain:

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One of the things we like about the French canals is that they have lots of information boards about where you are and the environmental work they are doing.  Unfortunately they are usually only in French but sometimes they have photos as well.  This is a photo of one part of the canal in 1913:

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And this is it now:

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We then went up and huge flight of locks (20+) with anything between 100 and 200 metres between each lock and found this information board about them:

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To our delight, we then had to go down another whole load which led us to play the “see how far you can go without pedalling” game – having a somewhat heavier bike than mine Matt won by miles!

Taking selfies on the move is not as easy as it may look:

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Ah, that’s better:

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From lunch time onwards we had the hotel vs campsite debate and agreed that if it was still raining when we arrived in Pontivy we would head straight for the Ibis (£82 – I’d looked it up!).  The debate went on and on – we had said we would camp for 2 more nights but it’s cold and wet and miserable – £82 vs 7 Euros – etc, etc, etc.  As we arrived in Pontivy the sun came out – hoorah! – decision made.  Got the tent up, went to the supermarket and the heavens opened 😦

Here I am dealing with emails in the tent in the lashing rain:

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It is now Thursday morning and it has rained on and off all night but the sun is now out – hoorah!  But it is cold, really cold.  I think we have now reached the end of our camping tether.  There are only 2 loos here for each sex and one is for the disabled.  The lock on the ladies’ disabled loo door doesn’t work so, effectively, we have one loo.  Matt used their disabled loo last night and people were banging on the door whilst he was using it – opened the door with some impatience to find a disabled man and his carer outside waiting to use it – whoops!!  I had a shower last night and, to be fair, the water was hot but the cubicle was pretty grubby.  I think we’ve had it now with doing our teeth whilst someone has a shite in the cubicle next to us and sitting on loos (lined with loo paper, obviously!) still warm from the previous arse and showering trying to avoid other peoples’ pubes stuck to the tiles.

This is the weather forecast page on my app last night.  I (foolishly) looked up Constanta in Romania (where we would be had we gone from west to east) and also Penzance, out of curiosity.  Guess where we are today – yup, cycling from Pontivy to Morlaix!!

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I’m off to have a look for a hotel on booking.com!

Guenrouet to Malestroit

Miles ridden today – 41

Total miles so far – 3,060

Another glorious day cycling on the Nantes-Brest canal, which really is very pretty:

 

We stopped off in Redon to try and get Fred’s spoke fixed but they didn’t have the right size so we carried on.  Very pretty locks all day – this is Redon (twinned with Andover, where Matt did his initial army training):

 

During lunch I took the opportunity to photograph my cycling tan lines – can’t remember when my legs were last this brown!

 

Matt tested the camera’s macro lens on a bug which had landed on his mirror:

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The next section of the canal reminded us very much of the Danube:

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We thought this lock was pretty impressive:

 

And then cycled along a section which looked just like the Danal du Midi:

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And then got to this lock which really outdid them all:

 

And then a very pretty bridge:

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We wonder if there’s a competition on the canal for the prettiest lock or bridge?

Lovely old trees on the final run into Malestroit:

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We are now in the very pretty town of Malestroit for 2 nights as this area was very much the centre of the Resistance in Brittany during World War II and we want to visit the Resistance Museum:

 

We are in the Municipal campsite which is an excellent place to be spending 2 nights as it’s only 6 Euros a night!!  No loo roll (but we honestly didn’t expect it at that price) but loo seats – yay!!  Lukewarm showers but it’s all pretty clean and there are separate men’s and ladies but the French seem to completely ignore the signs so, in reality, the facilities are mixed!  Matt gives it 4* because the showers aren’t that hot but I’d go for 4.5* as they even have free “Ville de Malestroit” wifi here – suspect that may have been paid for by the EU!

It may be apparent from some of the photos we have taken today that we are in “going home” mode.  Here is another – can you see the smiling face in Matt’s scabs on his knee?!:

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Day 2

As predicted (on both weather apps I use) it started raining at about 4am and continued to rain on and off all morning.  Luckily, we’re not cycling so are sitting in the tent doing admin.  Today, we have:

– booked our ferry from Roscoff to Plymouth on Saturday morning;

– booked train tickets (plus bikes) to Penzance;

– booked a hotel in Roscoff for Friday night (I am not getting up at 5am to catch the 8.30am ferry!);

– done an online Tesco order to be delivered to home on Friday (when Tom has assured us he’ll be at home) so we don’t have to rush straight out to a supermarket when we get home (and also so there’ll be chilled Prosecco in the fridge!).

So, from the second one here you can see that we have decided not to cycle Cornwall’s horrid hills all the way home.  However, it’s not all about the horrid hills (honest) it’s more about the fact that Tom is already home and Guy will be home on Sunday or Monday and I really want to spend 2 weeks at home with them (before they both head north to Scotland) rather than battling Cornwall’s hills (can you imagine the tears – “I could be at home with my boys”!!!  We haven’t seen Tom since New Year and haven’t seen Guy since April and once they’ve gone north we won’t be seeing them again until Christmas so 2 weeks all together is precious time indeed.

As for number 3, not sure if this is anal or simply a brilliant plan.  I like to think the latter!

Once the rain had stopped we headed off to the Resistance Museum about 2.5 miles from the campsite (mainly up-hill!).  The museum is at the very farm where the Resistance (and British and French SAS) based themselves in preparation for the Normandy landings in June 1944.  The Germans discovered their base (where some 2,500 men and women were living) and attacked it on June 18th 1944.  The Resistance saw off the initial attack but the Germans returned with more firepower and overnight on the 18th/19th June all of the 2,500 men and women (including many vehicles and weapons) disappeared into the night leaving the remains of their base to the Germans.  560 Germans were killed and just 42 French.  Sadly the German retaliation was swift and brutal and summary executions took place in nearby towns and villages as well as the burning of the entire village of Saint Marcel.

Nearby is a memorial to those who took part and those who died – again, there is the double cross which signifies the Resistance:

It was a somber reminder of what took place in these fields which we gaily cycle through each day.

Tomorrow the forecast (sadly) is for lots of rain and we have 40+ miles to cycle – I’m hoping that the canal side trees will protect us a bit!  On the plus side we only have to take the tent down 3 more times and put it up twice – hoorah!!

La Chapelle sur Erdre to Guenrouet

Miles ridden today – 41

Total miles so far – 3,019

Yay!!  See that?  We’ve passed the 3,000 mile mark!!!!

Last night I worked out a few statistics for our EV6 ride, which may be of interest:

– we have been away for 94 days (up to arriving at the Atlantic);

– of which 65 have been cycling days;

– which means that we’ve had 29 non-cycling days – almost a month!  These days, of course, include Bucharest at the beginning, Budapest, Vienna etc but we find it interesting that almost one-third of the EV6 trip we were not cycling!

– our average mileage on cycling days was 45 miles.  Matt guessed it would be 36.

Our friends Guy and Barbara (on their tandem recumbent) left just a few days after us.  They cycled 3,015 miles in total – 84 more than us (they have done more detours to castles, chateaux etc and have also had to do more roadwork in places where the tandem couldn’t go {gravel roads with grass in the middle are a major problem for them}).  They cycled for 63 days so their daily average is 48 miles – remarkably similar to ours!

These are interesting stats for us and hope they may be of use to anyone reading this who is planning to cycle the whole route.


Outside our hotel this morning we found a first – a bicycle roundabout! – wonder if it ever gets so busy that it’s really necessary?

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Our route to the Nantes Brest canal was unbelievably circuitous and there were may more hills than you’d expect on a “canal” route!

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But we went through some lovely villages:

And eventually ended up on the canal towpath, which will be our home for the next 5 days:

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It is very pretty and, apart from stinking short hills up to bridges (the kind I absolutely hate, especially when you have to stop at the top because there’s a road), it’s absolutely flat – hoorah!!

And we had our usual lunch (bread, salami, cheese, fruit) on a bridge in the sun being entertained by a couple blowing up their (clearly brand new) inflatable kayak and preparing for their first voyage.  To our great disappointment (and some surprise) neither of them fell in!

Some parts of the canal clearly don’t see much boat traffic!

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We are now in a very nice municipal campsite right on the canal – very clean facilities WITH  loo roll – hurrah! – but no loo seats 😦 (slightly alarmingly I am actually getting almost used to this).  Haven’t tried the shower yet (I know, filthy cow) but we’ve spent an entertaining evening with a couple from Hay on Wye who live a not dis-similar lifestyle to ours and our just starting a 2 month trip round Europe, although they haven’t decided where yet!  The loo block has annoying sensor lights and I don’t fancy them all going out when I’m mid-shower so the shower will have to wait until the morning – an absolute first for this whole trip (except when we were wild camping, of course!).

Tomorrow, more cycling and we need to find a bike shop (have been recommended one outside Redon) as I pinged another spoke today 😦 – naughty Fred – perhaps it’s his revenge for me kicking him yesterday!

St-Brevin-les-Pins to La Chapelle sur Erdre

Miles ridden today – 47

Total miles so far – 2,978

Believe it or not, the wind had changed and was coming from the North so we had it straight into our faces as we cycled from our hotel into town before turning east towards Nantes!  We also had more dripping water in the night so asked if we could have a bit of a discount when checking out this morning, as it had been a bit of a nightmare.  They gave me a Gift Voucher for the spa and an upgrade to a room with a sea view – to be used by 30th December 2017.  So ….. if anyone is planning a stay at the Hotel du Beryl in St-Brevin-les-Pins before 30th December this year do get in touch and you are most welcome to my voucher as I can’t somehow see us being in a position to use it!

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This is the hotel and the sea view you would be enjoying (look! – blue sky and sun!):

The view of the St Nazaire bridge was looking a bit cheerier today as well:

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We are very conscious that as we approach the end of our trip now is the time that accidents can occur so we both told each other this morning that we must be careful and concentrate as we are cycling along.  And so, of course, this is the day that we both came off our bikes!!!  Matt’s was somewhat more spectacular than mine and happened as we were cycling out of St Brevin Les Pins on the cyclepath; there was a group of cyclists stopped and chatting on the path in front including one old chap who – as we approached – decided to get his bike in preparation for leaving and had it right across the path.  He hadn’t looked so didn’t know we were coming (usually it’s the yoof I have a got at for this – so busy on their mobile phones they’re not even aware that we’re on the same path as them).  But, on this occasion it was an old chap and I braked so as not to hit him and Matt braked so as not to hit me but I had braked harder and Matt did hit me and then went over with a mighty crash.  Matt is OK – a very bloodied knee (see below) and gravel embedded in his helmet so it was good we wear them ALL the time but the poor old French chap was beside himself – sobbing and leaning on my bike so we were all more concerned that he was going to have a heart attack or something and Matt ended up consoling him!  Here he is with me after we’d all consoled him and assured him Matt was OK (and here is Matt’s bloodied knee!):

My little crash happened this afternoon when we were leaving Nantes – a very steep little hill (the kind I usually walk up but I was determined to pedal up), not enough gas, hit the pavement, over I went.  Much swearing and I was so furious I even gave poor Fred a good kicking!  There will be some spectacular bruises in due course.

Cycling through le Pellerin we stopped for cold drinks and a naughty mid-morning patisserie and were struck by these sculptures made from scrap metal.  The dog seems to have a very generous appendage, and the lady is also well endowed!  The camel and rhino were on the way out of town – great fun!

We crossed the river back on the same ferry as Thursday and it was still free!

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This tree amused Matt – sooooo puerile!:

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Selfie of the Day at lunchtime:

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We had a fantastic run into Nantes with no head wind and even a smidge of tail wind – now we know why everyone cycling towards us is so cheerful!  We like to think that you haven’t really cycled EV6 unless you’ve done it into a head wind the entire way!

We were rather dreading having to go back through Nantes as we’d found the signage somewhat intermittent the first time and it turned out to be the same this time as well.  In the end we passed a bike hire place and the very helpful young man gave us a map and directions on how to find EV1 – turns out, we were nearly there.  We then had the most bizarre experience of finding the cycle lanes running up the middle of the road (in both directions) with the trams and traffic on the outside of the cyclists.  It actually worked really well, especially as the cycle lanes were raised up slightly and we duly whizzed through town and before we knew it we were on the canal tow path – hoorah!

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We were not nearly as brave/stupid? As these girls cycling between the tram tracks (we had previously seen one lady on a Nantes Boris bike get her wheel stuck in the tracks – not a good position to be in):

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Interesting office “building” on the canal:

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We are now in a very cheap motel/Travelodge style hotel on an industrial estate on the edge of La Chapelle sur Erdre because the local campsite only takes bookings for 3 nights or more during July and August – eh?  Three nights in the campsite probably costs the same as one night in this hotel but I’m damned if I’m giving the campsite money for 2 nights when I’m not there!  Any cyclists reading this, take note!  I asked the hotel online if they had storage for bikes and Cedric replied to say they didn’t.  When we got here he offered us a disabled room, which is bigger and on the ground floor, so we can have the bikes in our room – perfect!  If this is a bigger room then I dread to think how small the other rooms are!  This is the view from the bed as I sit and type:

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Tomorrow we should get on to the canal proper and are back in the tent – yay?!

St-Brevin-les-Pins

After the excitement of yesterday and because it has decided to chuck it down with rain today we decided to blow the budget and spend another night in our nice hotel! We also needed the time and good internet connection to plan our route home as we don’t actually have a map (yet) for the EV1 to Roscoff and we also need to check ferry times, accommodation etc (this whole thing is not just chucked together, you know!).

Our bed turned into an office:

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As the rain comes down and the wind blows outside:

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The forecast is much better for tomorrow, thank goodness.

We left yesterday’s campsite after a disturbed night – we camped in a corner of the field and unfortunately a number of other campers (as well as Matt) decided that corner would make a perfect urinal in the night 😦 😦 😦 and no amount of rain between 4am and 7am disguised the smell – yukkity, yuk, yuk!  It also became apparent that there was a nightclub in the near vicinity and it played loud “boom boom” music until 6am.  Oh, the joys of camping!

So, after not much sleep we had to contend with the joys of navigating Nantes.  All was going well until the signs just stopped (and it was not just us – Barbara and Guy had the same problem).  We kind of made it up for a while (keep the river on our left and keep pedalling) until signs started to re-appear.  This does not fill us with confidence as we have to return to Nantes tomorrow and find our way onto the EV1 route which crosses the EV6 somewhere in Nantes.

Interesting piece of artwork in the river!:

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We crossed over La Loire (now quite wide and naviagable) at Le Pellerin

And to our amazement the ferry was free! – that’s a first for the trip!

This photo is for my father – look where Le Pellerin is twinned with!:

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Cycling along the “Canal Maratime de la Basse Loire”:

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And on to Paimboeuf:

As we approached St Brevin we had fishing jetties on our side of the river and in the distance the massive bridge to St Nazaire:

I have read a few blogs where people have got to St Nazaire and then had to cross the bridge.  Apparently it’s a bit hairy as the cycle lane is too narrow if you have panniers.  Also, it’s quite a steep hill!  Also, yesterday, there would have been a very nasty side wind.  Matt would have loved to have had a go but I was mighty  pleased to see a sign which said that crossings by bikes in July and August are not allowed!

And then, there we were, at the sign which states that it’s 3,653 Kilometres to Constanta (that’s 2,270 miles).  We’ve actually done 2,931 so either their sign is wildly inaccurate (which I think it is) or our navigation is shockingly bad!  For the record, our itinerary gave our mileage as about 2,760 which confirms that our figures are more accurate than theirs (in my book!).  For any cyclists reading this, please bear this in mind!!

Selfie of the Day:

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Then we went to the beach and I went to find my shell (of which there were surprisingly few) but there was a rather nice (artwork) skeleton of a dinosaur:

It was here that we discovered that the hotel I/we had booked was 3.5 miles up the coast, oh dear!  Look at the flag to see how strong the (head) wind (as we were coming into town is, ie all day!) but, look also, blue sky!

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Put a backpacker into a nice hotel and what does he do?

Turns the wash basin into a drinks cooler!:

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By the time we had bathed (I drank fizz in a very long, deep, hot bath – heaven!) and got ourselves organised most of the restaurants had closed.  One of Matt’s least favourite food is pizza and his least favourite sport is football and thus we found ourselves eating pizza (for the second time this week) and drinking cheap rose in an Italian football themed restaurant with some obscure match being played on the telly – what a way to celebrate! – so typically “us”!!:

We also had water coming through our ceiling for most of the night, which we assumed was a leak from the room above but turns out to have been leaking air conditioning.  It could have been a form of Japanese water torture but obviously it was drowned out by Matt’s snoring!

Today we have had a quick wander around wet St-Brevin-les-Pins which reminds us very much of any seaside town which is designed entirely around warm, sunny weather and looks incredibly depressing in the rain and gloom.  Full of people wearing shorts and fleeces determined to be cheerful but really just wanting to go back to their accommodation and watch rubbish on telly.  It could have been Barmouth in Wales (one of John and Jayne’s favourite holiday spots)!  We were typically British and had a picnic brunch under a tree in the drizzle:

Tomorrow we head back to Nantes and are praying that the wind hasn’t changed direction and we will have a lovely day being blown back.  We then turn north to Roscoff!

Saint-Luce-sur-Loire to the Atlantic Ocean (St Brevin-les-Pins)

WE MADE IT!!

Selfie of the Day:

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At last – the Atlantic Ocean!

Miles ridden today – 47

Total miles so far – 2,931

From the Black Sea to the Atlantic Ocean – 2,931 miles.  Appropriately it was a grey and blustery day with a headwind the whole way!

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I picked up the big shell on the beach in Constanta and have carried it all the way.  Today, I picked up the little shell on the beach here at St-Brevins-les-Pins:

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These, plus some shot glasses (of which more later) are our souvenirs from the trip!

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More tomorrow.  We are now in a nice hotel and need our sleep!

Now all we need to do is get home!