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How the map looks ahead
Tomorrow I will be passing through Saint-Nazaire and continuing south. The blue line is distance travelled in France by tomorrow, and the red line is ahead.
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Day 18 - and how fast has that gone hey?

After a night in cheap (ish) digs, and a wet day previous, I cycled 43km south west towards the coast in the rain this morning, which soon turned to glorious sunshine.

I arrived at the best campsite to date. €20 for my pitch, which is as much as I would ever want to pay for a campsite, but it included my washing machine token, an electric extension cable and electricity of course to my tent, ready for episode 5 of Game of Thrones I downloaded last night at the digs on my laptop, and a few beers at the bar of course.

It has a bar, tables outdoors, and super clean showers, which I have already used :). My washing will be done in an hour, so I will hang it out on my line.

On the way here I mapped on a supermarket which added 3km to my journey, but worth it, because not only did I do my Big Shop :) , but on the way I overtook my first other cycle tourer half my age :)

Now, it wasn't easy, as keeping my face straight, sweat off my brow, and knees from buckling was pretty hard to disguise :) but I did OK. Well, it was a little fun and some extra exercise.

I stocked up on tins of mackerel fillets in tomato sauce for my emergency pack I'm building, but could I find ordinary peanut butter anywhere? Nope! It's like Rocking Horse sh#t.

Every flavor of chocolate, including banana chocolate, and that's it. It will be somewhere I'm sure, but for now, a great day, and, and, I'm now less than 20 miles from the sea and Saint-Nazaire.

My targets were to make it from Warrington in Cheshire to Portsmouth, then make it across the Channel to St Malo France, then to make it across land to the Atlantic (which I will do tomorrow), and the next will be to make it the whole way down the Atlantic coast to San Sebastián in Spain.

#cycle #cycling #cycletouring #adventurecycling #bikepacking #adventure #travel
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18/08/2017
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Day 17 - OK, so after 17 days on the road, what has this first time cycle touring fellow learned. Here are just a few things for starters:

Padded shorts are a must have! Oh wow, I shudder to think what my butt would look and feel like with out those padded shorts under my normal shorts, but if you have ever seen the rear end of a baboon, you will have a good idea. Padded shorts are a lifesaver.

Any muscle you have that you didn't gain cycling, is useless unless you have to carry the bike. I am really quite a strong guy, but that strength matters not when cycling. On my second day of this cycle I just knew I was going to be feeling all new muscle pain from all new muscles :), and I did, and still am too.

Always carry some sort of food in your bags in case - like here in France - nothing is ever open and if it is, nobody knows when :) Bread seems to be the most popular food where I have travelled through, and Pizza seems to be the national dish. But those foods are no good in your panniers, you need jars of things or packets of things, high in energy and protein, that could get you through a whole day or more, just in case. I went a whole day without food from the day before, until 7pm that day, and even then it was far less calories than I burned that day.

Wild camping is easy as long as you have food, plenty of water, and a change of clothes for the following day, well at least a change of underwear anyway.

It's not easy to charge equipment. Getting in digs once or twice a week helps top everything up, ready for another few days of camping. Campsites sometimes let you charge things up in their offices I have found, but you don't really want to leave your laptop or mobile phone on a chair in the shop or reception.

You travel at just the right speed to enjoy your surroundings, or get a really good look at them at least. Walking would have been way too slow, especially for here in France up to now. Driving might be ideal here actually, as so far there really hasn't been anything to see other than corn, wheat, barking dogs, a few villages with nobody around, and steel shutters on nearly all the windows of houses which was a surprise, as I can't ever remember seeing steel shutters on a single house in the UK, makes you wonder what's up with that. I've actually on seen one police car up to now, so there might be a connection there.

Carry more water than you think you need. I purchased 2 plastic collapsible 5ltr water carriers before I left the UK, and in the morning I'm going to fill one of them, because even though it's extra weight, the feeling of not having to panic finding water is worth it. I also have 2 bottles on the bike and 2 smaller collapsible containers that hook onto the bags.

Electrolytes and Dehydration tablets are a must. If someone told me I would be drinking around 2 gallons of water a day or even more, I would have laughed, as trying to get me to drink a glass of plain old water before I set out on the cycle, would have been a tough challenge. And yet here I am, I'm like a camel. Every chance I get I have my head under a tap and storing as much as I can, and during the first week or so it was just coming out of me as quick as it went in, so I started taking dehydration tablets that help keep a good electrolyte balance and I have noticed some difference, but I still can't stop drinking water, that horrible plain old tasteless nothing that I couldn't stand before I left.

You need digs at least once or twice a week to keep you sane, well that's how I feel up to now. I can camp and wild camp no problem, but also need a mattress and some space to stand up in, and my own shower room. Not always, but just now and then when I'm drenched because of the rain and the thought of setting up my tent which was wet through when I packed it that morning, just doesn't seem appealing.

People will interact with you as a cyclist. I have met so many nice people up to now, and expect to meet a lot more. I have been given food, drinks, reduced rates on digs and campsites, and chatted to so many people, which when travelling alone, is needed really.

Weight falls off you. At least that's how if feels right now. I actually feel like I have lost over a stone in just these 17 days. I have no idea how much weight I have lost, or even if I have lost any at all, because I don't have scales, but I do feel like I have lost a lot.

Travel at your own pace. I have been rushing I suppose, because I have been weak in the muscle department and experience, and so have always felt I'm lagging behind and need to pedal faster and longer, but in reality I need to start taking things easy. I'm in no rush at all, and must stop rushing. It's in my nature that once I start something I am like a bull in a china shop in a madness to complete, but I don't need to, and I am trying hard to take things more easily.

I feel I am settling into it now, it has taken some doing, as everything I have is on my bike, but I do feel I am accepting that more and working with it better than I did the first 10 or so. If you only had your suitcases full of things, and didn't know where you were sleeping from one night to the next on a very long holiday, you kind of get the picture. This is a real adventure in every sense, each day brings new things both good and not so good, but in a way, it's all good.


And so, the last 3 nights have consisted of 2 campsites and one wild camp night, so today while it is raining all day, I have booked myself into a little B&B for a warm shower and mattress :). It's well earned I can tell you :). Still 2 days from the coast roughly, but that's cool.



#cycling #cycletouring #adventurecycling #bikepacking #biketouring #adventure #travel





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Day - 16 and I found and stocked up in case I couldn't find digs, which just happened to be the case :)

55 km today to a town supposedly brimming with hotels, B&B's and Guest Houses.

Nope, it was closed. I mean the whole town was shut. No people, nothing. So I have cycled on another few km's and I'm camping at the side of the road tonight at a picnic ground.

It was a much better day than yesterday and I covered the most distance in a day so far. I'm going to struggle with charging my phone so I'm switching it off until tomorrow once I've posted this.

It's just 100 km now to the coast, where I hope to find more things open better campsites and digs, and the sea better be there or there will be trouble! Goodnight :)
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16/08/2017
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Day 15 - And not a great day really.

I cycled 30 miles inland and south to cross some of the country and hit the coast, unfortunately, there was not a thing open. Not a shop, not a pub, nothing. It was like being the last man (real man :)) on Earth.

It was obviously some sort of holiday Tuesday and I had not noted it. I left this morning with no food and only 2 bottles of water, intending on re-supplying just down the street. Not so.

It was 30 miles before I found my campsite, and they have a bar and restaurant so I am getting some food now at 7pm, I'm starving. My 2 water bottles lasted the day, weirdly, but if desperate, I would have just asked someone for water.

By the way, I took time out from this post to eat my meal. It was labelled "Mixed Grill" :), Yeah right! 2 skinny sausages, a small slice of ham, and some skin fries. Total calories about a 1/4 of what I burned today :), I feel like I'm on The Biggest Loser :)

The satnav took me down a tiny track and I fell off the track and into a bramble patch, so a few cuts and scrapes, which attracted flies of course :)

On top of that, well, I haven't been able to phone out or receive calls since I beached in St Malo, despite making 3 calls to my provider before leaving the UK to confirm everything was OK. One call is never enough, and it also turns out 3 calls aren't enough either.

I used a landline at the campsite office, and still no joy. It was like talking to a brick wall. I feel like coming back to the UK and paying Virgin Mobile a visit in person.

Oh yes, and that noise in the crank area of my pedals is back, but now its constant. I'm in the middle of nowhere and not a sole speaks English, and it will be days before I can reach the coast and hopefully another bike shop. At least this time they should be able to pinpoint the problem because they will hear it.

And so my friends, another day is done, and I'm off to bed in a little while, and tomorrow I'm assured the shops will be open as usual, whatever usual may be :) I also left Virgin Mobile to play around with the connection, so if I disappear of the radar for a while, it's their fault because they are useless.

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Well what a wonderful welcome in France.

A short cycle to my first camp, so was able to wash my clothes from the last week, and that was cool, but my next door neighbours were something else.
One guy could speak English fairly well, and the other 3 could speak some words and understand quite a bit, but me, well other than Mangetout, I was all but useless.

Never the less, these wonderful people invited me to their table for BBQ and beer, and a birthday too. I tried Camembert warmed up in tin foil on the BBQ for the first time, sort of like having fondue, only different, we broke huge bread sticks and dipped them in.

We talked for a good few hours, and this wonderful group even donated to JUMP children's charity for which I will put over to on their behalf shortly.

I'm now sat down at the beautiful little harbour typing this out on my laptop, and everyone is smiling and happy, a bit like back home :)

A great day, now a few beers in an hour maybe and a good nights kip for a 50km ride south tomorrow.

UPDATE

Having just finished typing this post, a lovely woman named Carol and her family, came over to me from their house while I was sat here on the bench, and gave me a crepe. Can you believe it? Since coming on this cycle it's like I have entered another universe. It's just great.
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Day 14 and my first campsite was not an hour away, as I had a weeks worth of clothes to wash and dry, and the ones I had on I've had on for 2 day :O

So now I'm just waiting for it all to dry and thought I'd take a 5 minute cycle to the estuary.

It's quite pretty around here and there is a nice place to have a meal, oh and a beer later :)

Tomorrow will be about 30 miles inland and south to my next campsite.

I got the very last pitch on the one I'm in now so I was lucky, but just the thought of all fresh and clean clothes. Great
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I've arrived, now time to storm the beaches :)
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Oh I forgot, and a great meal :)
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On the ferry and ready for a drink or three. Will report in tomorrow :)
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