4 days of cycling in France

What is quickly becoming a tradition for the late May bank holiday weekend. I have been cycling in France with 5 other friends. We headed over to St Malo on Thursday, via the overnight ferry from Portsmouth.

Joining our regular group members, Barry, Jeeves and Simon were Jorge and Peeley. So after a few beers, some food and 6 hours sleep. We headed out of Saint-Malo for an 100 mile circular  route around this part of Brittany. The route included some stunning beaches and spectacular countryside.

Day 1 route

An evening in Saint-Malo’s walled old town, where we discovered a craft bar for beers, followed by a nice seafood meal and a good night’s sleep. The next day arrived soon and after a hotel breakfast we were on our bikes again, this time heading towards Falaise. This etap was to be the Queens stage of the tour 180+km and almost 2000m of climbing.

Day 2

This is what Jeeves thought of the stage when we stopped for a quick break mid ride.

The good news was, with the wind coming from the North West, we had a cross tail wind for most of the day making it a relatively easy day. We arrived in Falaise to find that Simon had take a leaf out of Ryanair play book and had booked the hotel a few km’s from the centre of town. This meant that after 350km of cycling, nobody fancied the walk into town. Good news for the day is that the hotel had a bar and restaurant. So even though we didn’t get to sample the delights of Falaise we did get a meal and some beers.

Day 3

Our sextet were heading for Honfleur. It was Sunday and we were in France. So we took the precaution of getting a few baguettes in Falaise, just in case we couldn’t find an open lunch stop. Here are a few photos I snapped as the lads were sorting the baguettes.

 

Jeeves turned into the support rider for the day, as he had a pannier and this was the best way to get our lunch in one piece and not some soggy smashed bread and ham. The direct route to Honfleur was a bit short so we took the circular approach and headed east of our target and looped into Honfleur to make up the km’s.

Day 3

Although it was only 120km stage, we got some rain to make it a bit more difficult, and had our lunch in a delightful bus stop in an commercial estate, sandwiched between a Decathlon and a Peugeot car dealership, (both closed of course). Today we had a few small climbs on roads that would be at home in the Chilterns, this lead to a couple of punctures. Not a big problem, but if you have tubeless clinches tyres and have filled the tyre with sealant, you end up covered in sticky glitter infused gunk. As it was Barry’s tyre he took the brunt of it, but he did make sure that we all got a bit of white/blue much over us.

Next puncture was Jorge’s, he had standard tubes, so it was a simple job, although we still got supervised by a flock of sheep.

The rain cleared up before we made it to Honfleur, but we did have to battle into a headwind for the last 30km. All the riding was taking a toll and any opportunity to have a nap was being taken.

Even in the sparsely furnished hotel reception. Tonight’s hotel was a very basic Ibis-budget. Although it was near the centre of town. Having walked to the harbour we again had a few beers followed by a very average meal. Time to dry out and get set for tomorrow’s ride.

 

Jorge had his gopro with him and took some nice video and photos over the weekend.

 

Day 4

Although it is probably only about 40km from Honfleur to Ouistreham, we of course couldn’t just ride directly there. So we headed Southwest to find some hills and a loop around and through Caen. This was planned after last year’s tour where we found ourselves 150km away from the ferry and a tight deadline to make the time cut. If we had any problems we could just cut this ride short and head for the Ferry. Today started cloudy but improved to see us finish the four days ride is bright sunshine. We stopped for a late lunch in Caen and had our best meal of the long weekend, unfortunately this was not an French restaurant but an Italian one. Now all that was left was the ride along the canal path to the Ferry. I was up for an easy ride to the Ferry, but Barry and Simon had another idea. Still they did easy up and wait for me in the end.

A great weekend away and we are already planning for next years trip.

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58 and never been to a festival!!

Well it’s about bloody time I went to one. Now this isn’t Glastonbury we are talking about here. It’s the Quirky Campervan festival. Although they have got 15 different bands playing over three days, the festival is more learning about campervan converting with workshops on electrical installation, van maintenance, and insulation etc. It is also a deisel free site with all its electricity coming from solar energy:-) also compostable toilets:-(. No worries we have a toilet in the van, just not sure if the cartridge is big enough for 3 days. I guess we will find out soon. It’s also small, family and dog friendly (not always a good thing). A nice start to festival life especially now we have the van we intend to go to lots of festivals.Arrival day – it rained most of the day and was quite cold. We managed to get settled in had some food and beer plus watch a few of the bands, before we retired to the van.Day two – the weather was much nicer, toured the stalls and went to three/four workshops. Beer/food/Van and then bed.Tomorrow we will catch up on the workshops we missed and probably leave early, or we might stay to see the headline band “Cut Capers”.Just a few photos.

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Every time you scare yourself, do you learn something about life?

I know what Bettie learns when I’m jumping out from behind the door to scare her, she learns that I’m a fool. What I meant from the title of the blog is, you have to do something that challenges you either physically, mentally or socially. This week Bettie and I have been rock climbing, yes that’s right rock climbing. It took both of us outside of our comfort zones. Our heart rates were way up and we had to mentally and physically push ourselves to make for the next hand hold or just step over the edge and trust that Alexander had set the equipment right and we would not fall. Well we both managed it.

and of course Suzi keep a close look to make sure that we were doing correctly.

I know I haven’t blogged for a while but we have a new campervan to keep us busy. Here are a few photos of our recent trips.

Cornwall and Devon our first trip in the van after we picked it up in Devon.

And we went to York and Dumfries

this time Monty keep us busy on the beach

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That was 2018 – A round up of the year part 1

Now that we have changed our lifestyle, with a higher focus on enjouying life, It not only seems but actually is that our years are getting busier as we get older. This retirement lark gives where you have loads of time to yourself and find it hard to fill the days seems to have past me bye.

In January I found myself in Chamonix for long weekend with Alexander and a few of his friends for a ski touring training session. (Training they said)

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Next up house hunting in Devon. In February, since retirement Bettie and I have been looking at places we might like to live. So far we have been unsuccessful, we have a couple of favourites but can’t agree, so the hunt goes on. This weekend we went to Totnes, because it has a lot of ethical shops and bars etc. We also went for a walk and train ride along the coast.

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March saw Bettie and I going back to the Alps, we had booked apartment in the centre of Chamonix for a month, we wanted to experience more than a couple weeks in the Alps in winter. We had great plans about trying new winter sports, but spent most of our time enjoying the mountains and town. A couple of friends joined us for a week, which involved much fun and alcohol, also talking over old times, we have been holidaying with Ray and Jackie for the last 29 years.

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towards the end of our time in Chamonix we were joined by Alexander for a few days and then Bettie’s skiing adventure was up. She was to fly home to meet Alex (her Dad), and to prepare for a weeks cycling in Italy. Alexander and I stayed on in Chamonix to prepare for our failed attempt to accend Mount Blanc. We did get some ski touring in.

April – A quick turnaround for me. Time to leave the winter behind and get on my bike. Alexander and I drove home from Chamonix on Thursday. I then packed three bikes and cycling kit into bike boxes/bags on Friday. Bettie her Dad and I then flew to Italy on Saturday. This was for a week of cycling in Riccione, staying in hotel Dory again. Before this my hair needed to be sorted, I needed to go from winter to summer Fred.

Another great week, it’s hard to work out how you can cycle about 400 miles in a week and still put weight on, that is until you see the buffet meals they serve three times a day.

May – was a quite month, we did drop Bettie’s Dad of in Portsmouth, he had booked on another epic cycle trip, this time he would cycle down through Europe from the English Channel to the Mediterranean. It was part of his preparations for the Lands End to John O’groats world record attempt. If you want to read more about it follow this link. It also meant that we had a nice weekend in Portsmouth, if that’s not an oxymoron.

June – A split month for us. Bettie had planned to spend some time with her sister. They had a rough plan to visit some old hauntso from thier childhood and have a tour of the Islands. (Add some photos from Bettie’s trip here). I on the other hand had been convinced by Stef a friend from Belgium, that it would be a good idea to enter the Milan-SanRemo cycle sportive. This had been a long ambition of mine. It is the first of the Spring Monuments (Cyclings equivalents of the Grand slam of Tennis and Majors in golf). They consist of one day races. Four in spring, Milan Sanremo, Paris Roubux, The Tour of Flanders, Lieage Bastone Lieage, and in Autumn The tour of Lombardier. They are considered the hard man races of cycling. They are monuments because they are all over 27km with Milan-SanRemo being the longest at 300km which on the day we road it turned out to be 295km or 192 miles.

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Day 43 – La Veulta – Hotel life, We could get use to this

As mentioned in our last post, we have booked into a hotel for our last night in Spain, it’s just as well as it poured with rain all afternoon and night. Here is a view of the hotel from the ferry.nor

We went out for Pizza in a classic Italian restaurant which was about 200m from the hotel and then spent the rest of the time looking at the view from our hotel room. We have booked the ferry tomorrow and it leaves at 3:15 so a long lazy morning followed by a very short ride to the ferry.

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Day 42 – La Veulta – rain and sickness

Today both Bettie and I have been feeling ill, headaches and pain, hopefully it is 24 hour flu. I also have been having a problem with my inner ear. If I turn over or stand up to quickly I get very dizzy and feel sick. Also in other good news a storm has rolled in off the bay of Biscay, 40 to 50km/h winds and rain. We took to the tent at about 3pm and stayed there. I spent the night shivering and sweating and Bettie seems to have spent her time booking us into a hotel for our last day in Spain. The good news is that the campsite is sheltered by walls and tall trees, “although it did feel like they might fall over at any moment”, the tent stayed dry if not quite cosy. So tomorrow it’s pack-up time and head to the hotel. I didn’t take any photos so here are a collection of some of my favourites from the trip.

 

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Day 41 – La Veulta – One of my Golfing hero’s, A plate of Winkles plus Mum and Dad

Today I had a plan to ride around the bay at Santander and visit the birth place of Severiano Ballesteros, Pedreña. “Seve” as he was know by the world. He was one of the games most flamboyant golfers.

Once in a while he would crash balls off the tea all over the golf course and them magically recover, with his second shot going close to the flag or green, and then hole the put or chip in. I remember watching him beat Nice Price in the British Open, one of the best two round of golf I can remember, also his first win in the Masters. Great memories from my youth, many of them spent with my Dad watching the telly on Sunday afternoon. Dad was a very good golfer and many years later we had a great day at Royal St George’s golf club, watching the Open Golf Championship. It was just after Seve had died, the R&A had big pictures of Seve all over the entrance to the course. Great memories of both Dad and Seve. (I’ll add a photo of Dad playing golf when we get home)

Now onto the ride Google told me it was a flatish ride around the bay. Turns out you have to avoid the Docks and Seve Ballesteros Airport. So a bit of motorway and a few climbs, plus an extra 12km of riding we are Pedreña, not a golf course on sight and not even a memorial to Seve:-(

We stop in a bar over looking the Sea and find that the Tapas is a plate of Winkles

Now I hate Winkles with a passion, but my Mum used to spend hour digging the little buggers out and then eating them on slabs of white sliced bread and butter. Strange to be reminded of both Mum and Dad on the same day. You don’t think of them for months at a time and then they pop into your mind, good memories of both of them.

Anyway we took some photos from Santander side of the bay

And the ferry ride back across the bay was worth the hassle of the main roads around the docks and Airport Detour.

And to finish the day off I decided that I would have a swim in a small bay close to the campsite.

The little boy is looking at me and thinking you loser, and I hang my head in shame 😁

I have to admit it was about 10m as the water was bloody freezing. But a great view from the bar Bettie had the good sense to sit in.

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