Thursday, 30 September 2010

Day 5 - Thursday 30 September

Château d’Olonne To Villedoux (Nr La Rochelle)

A comical start to the day, due I think partly to the fact that we were the only people staying on the campsite last night. Twenty past nine and no sign of any French chappies at site reception and the camp had a barrier which you needed to pay a deposit of 40 euros for on arrival.
Needless to say an Irishman, a Scouser and one with Scottish antecedents were not falling for that as we weren’t going off site that night and we thought reception would be staffed next morning. Was it buggery!
We tried calling the number on the office door with no avail. So the ever resourceful Smith sauntered off around the site to see if he could find a living person. Some 10 minutes later he reappeared with a little old French lady (still in her green dressing gown) who bless her cotton socks trolled all the way down to the front gate so attired to use her gate pass to open the barrier. If you carefully examine the start photo you can pick her out in the background.

On then to the cycling which they started in lovely weather enjoying better roads and conditions than yesterday. So engrossed were they that they became a tad too adventurous ignoring my previous directions and adding several miles to the day ~ not once but twice did I have to phone them with that choice phrase ~ “where the **** are you now?” Costing me a fortune as they also called me several times asking much the same question and of course I had to pay to receive these inane comments! In addition during one of their meanders Andy suffered a broken spoke. Fortunately this was only a short distance from meeting me and the chance to swap the front wheel with the spare bike ~ bugger that means there’s no bike for me to ride now!

All was sorted by mid afternoon and reunited in the van we crossed over the bridge to the Île De Ré. A lovely campsite found at the tip of the island in the village of Ars-en-Ré. However further travails then arose. A decision was made to do a mass lavage, token inserted, clothes loaded, door closed, button pressed and bugger all happened!! Much too-ing and fro-ing but monsieur in reception (who insists on gabbling in French) had gone walkabout off for the night, so young Smith with the dexterity of a master safe cracker (courtesy of friends and family up north) managed to retrieve the clothing comprising 60% of the cycling kit. We do have a laugh!

Must dash now as first glass of red stuff just appeared in right hand! Oh a quick message to Mr B in North Devon ~ saw a fantastic kayak at an Intersport in Les Sables-D’Olonne ~ reduced to 590 euros but it did have a glass bottom!

Île De Ré

The three of us plus some camp photos!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Day 4 - Wednesday 29 September

Chauve to les Sables-d’Olonne (56 miles)
Although less miles and the land was completely flat the lads found today’s cycling the hardest so far as the whole day was into a headwind ~ have to say I didn’t notice but some will always seek any excuse for a moan! As one of the party commented on the flat landscape - “a bit of up and down is great as you can get the arse out of the saddle”. It was also a more overcast day with a few spots of rain which fortunately didn’t materialise into anything significant.
The beaches at St-Jean-de-Monts were totally deserted ~ miles and miles of sand with not a soul – a bit like tonight’s campsite at Chateau-d’Olonne. We just got here in time as it closes for the year tomorrow!
While I mess with the blog, Andy is in his little tent conjuring up chicken curry. I daresay we might open another 5 litre wine box so we can maintain our average of a bottle of wine per day – each! Quelle surprise then that one of the photos Vince took today was of the pair of them at a vineyard.
As to the blog, I believe some are experiencing problems leaving comments. I’ll tinker with the settings and risk the spam potential. Now that’s a thought ~ perhaps Spam for tea tomorrow. Oh hang on I’ve just been told its spag bol.

Day 3 Tuesday 28 September

St Abraham to Chauve ~ 66 miles
Sadly another late start, as some still needed their beauty sleep, meant we didn’t leave the campsite until 10 and they didn’t actually start cycling till about 11. While waiting for one member to stir, young Smith demonstrated a lack of IT skills where he’d clearly confused blogspot with bogspot ~ see horrendous photo. The Merlin campsite at Loyat had been excellent hosts even providing free wi-fi.
It was a good days cycling on generally quiet French back-roads with the highlight being a visit to the hill town of Rochefort-en-Terre. Whilst the lads sped on I walked around and took many photos but sadly the blog doesn’t give me the space to do it justice. Then we found a great lunch spot by a marina just south of Arzal.
Andy in his forward planning had the idea of cycling over the bridge at St-Nazaire (the estuary of the River Loire) but I expressed some concerns from the memory of driving over said structure some 17 years ago. They were still game but as we approached prudence prevailed (see photo) and they hitched a lift over before cycling for another 20 miles on the far side.
Incidentally whilst they only cycled 66 mile I actually had to drive over 100 to fit in with their plans.
We then had a tricky job finding the night’s campsite at Pornic, which involved phone calls back to blighty for Andy’s son Tom to look up the address on internet. Happily we did get there (although too late for proper check in and wifi registration) ~ oh how even the finest plans don’t always work smoothly!


Some pictures of Rochefort-en-Terre ~ this is the main street you drive through!

Monday, 27 September 2010

Day 2 : Langonnet to San Malo des 3 Fontaines (near Josselin) 63 miles

After a much needed sleep at our first base (many thanks to Steve and Geoff for the stunning accommodation in the village of Langonnet ~ sorry we drank all your wine) we set off in overcast conditions slightly later than planned due to us all experiencing a touch of oversleeping - nothing to do with said wine! One of the pictures shows the view from the front door.
The lads dashed away on the first stage of cycling going through the village of Plouray down past the smelliest poultry factory known to mankind ~ at least it was down hill so they didn’t have to breathe too much in! We progressed to a charming town called Guemene-sur-Scorff where we purchased baguettes and fabulous pain au chocolat. Memory plays tricks though as the town was much bigger than Vince remembered resulting in much healthy walking exercise for me ~ how I laughed! There was however a public toilette ~ words fail me to adequately describe that experience.
Then off we went through the delightful town of Pontivy where I again cursed the sat nav which had abandoned me in the middle of town ~ there was a fabulous town square though which I saw several times. (Andy claims I don’t speak lovingly enough to his toy ~ mind as I consider such things female nothing new there!)
After lunch in a charming lay-by just out of town, the lads swept on through the rolling French countryside despite a minor frustration in Josselin where a diversion onto a fast dual carriageway alarmed them somewhat and altered our finishing plans by a few miles.
I believe they had an enjoyable day in the saddle with Andy being so happy with his recently serviced bike he remarked that his thanks must be sent to Phil at work.
Oh and the impromptu sprint finish (Andy claims an element of deception) was “won” by Vince ~ Andy was too busy making friends with the village dog!

Our voyage to La Belle France

Well the day started fairly well – at least we caught the ferry having persuaded Vince that an early start was required as we didn’t want to just watch the boat disappear into the early morning sun. A smooth crossing with barely a ripple meant we arrived on time at 3 (proper UK time) but at 4 according to our continental brethren.
Then the day sadly degenerated to farce leading to many choruses of that well known ballad by Bonnie Tyler ~ all I can say is stuff modern technology and lets get back to paper maps! I mean it was a lovely day to be driving around and we did see some nice countryside but about 50 miles more than planned ~ actually 25 twice some of which was horrendous dual carriageway!
However when we finally arrived at our overnight destination the journey was to prove worthwhile with wine, one of Smith’s pasta creations and a gert big slice of Jenny’s fruit cake to dissipate our frustrations.
As to those earlier troubles – what goes on on tour stays on tour!!!!!!!

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Team shirts

Van is more or less packed ready just to load up the bikes at 5 and then we wend our merry way south west to Pl****th for the 8 o’clock ferry.
Vince’s promise of team shirts came good this afternoon when he handed over two each. You may catch sight of them in photos but here’s a couple of close up pictures showing the rear and front insignia - look pretty damn good ~ I know shame about the bodies that will be inside them!!!

Just think of flags and I'm sure you'll understand the design.

Friday, 24 September 2010


Well just over 40 hours to go and the trip is all starting to feel real ~ most important development so far with Jenny Lane having delivered TWO fruit cakes to Vince ~ that’ll at least keep us going until we get to Roscoff!!!