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What a big tent I live in.
If you’re interested in seeing where I’ve been, the route is online at the link
Most of this is the track recorded by the GPS although some of it was overwritten due to the size of the file. However, I stuck to the plotted track faithfully until I got to the south of France around Bordeaux. If you’re planning a trip like this and are looking for some ideas, this is a good rural route through France. The bit that is challenging is the twenty miles either side of the France/Spain border which is heavily populated and has few roads that avoid the main road. It improves as you get further into Spain if you stick to the coast, but even these roads can be a bit uninspiring. The big surprise is that the N634 after Bilbao to Laredo is a joy to ride. I don’t know if I was just lucky but it was quiet with little traffic of any kind and was occasionally quite picturesque.
If you would like any more information then just comment on this blog with your contact details and it will get to me
I think I left you just outside Deba and was heading for Bilbao. I think France was definitely a bit of a doddle compared to this and I can see why people cop out and catch the train for the last bit. Hard, hilly and, if you get the route wrong, with really bad traffic. But on the whole it has gone ok. I missed most of the traffic but paid for this in terms of terrain. I avoided Bilbao and stayed at a place with a name like Solpadeine (I’m in a hotel lobby without a map). It is on the coast to the north of Bilbao and is reached by a very rural route. Grotty campsite but really helpful hippy running it. He put me on a route to get across Bilbao using the oldest transporter bridge in the world (there is a very bored geek who reads this blog and every time I mention a fact he tears me to pieces with I’ll concealed venom – eat that one boy). Trouble is, the coastal path has a half a dozen sets of steps that I had to manoeuvre bike and trailer up or down. But the bridge made it worthwhile. Great bit of old technology.
My destination was Laredo – again undistinguished other than by the grittiness of the campsite. I must mention that the original idea for this trip came from Janet and Gerald Gilbert. When I saw Gerald at the time trial the other day I was surprised to hear that they cut the trip short at Bilbao and caught the bus into Santander. I can only presume the horror stories of the N634 had struck home but , I’d you’re ever attempting this trip, that bit of road from Bilbao to Laredo is an absolute joy. Sure, loads of hills but very few camions (lorries) or cars of any sort.
After Laredo I took the coast road to Pedrena and caught the ferry across the bay into Santander. So there you are, I’ve made it. 938 miles in 13 days of cycling (I had a couple of days off). Not bad considering I was towing a corpse behind me. I’ll put a few pictures below this just to prove I really am here. Brought the ferry forward to Monday and going to Portsmouth. Meet you all on the Wednesday evening ride!
Thanks for reading and for all your support.
This may take a little while to get to you as I’m seriously not going to upload anything via public cellular data. France is very definitely behind me now and what a difference a few miles make. If you remember I was in Hendaye yesterday and politely asked Johnny Satnav to find me a pretty route to San Sebastian. I said I didn’t mind a few hills but would prefer a few less murderous Spanish lorry drivers. Well, he came up with the goods alright, and have I done some climbing. I was slightly proud of having only used my granny gears once in France, but the coast and Coastal strip of northern Spain is HILLY. I lived in my granny gears and still had to cight my way up a few of them. And that’s reflected in the numbers. Most days in France I was managing an 11.6 mile per hour average. Today it was 8.6!!! Still, do 60 miles of that and you’ve earned your supper. Some of the hills were covered in encouraging words like ‘Wheres MY bloody EPO?’. It wasn’t actually but it was in Spanish of which I have no understanding. That’s what I wrote when I went back to pick up my heart and lungs that had leapt out of my chest.
Eventually got to Deba and met a very helpful traffic warden who spoke fantastic English. He pointed me in the right direction for a campsite (up two more enormous hills!) and then told me he was losing his job next week. He works in Deba but lives somewhere else, and his employers decided they would only employ people from Deba. “it’s a big shit”, he said, and I agreed.
I went through Donastia San Sebastian on the way here. What a beautiful town. This whe area is beautiful and bears a striking similarity to the South Hams but with even bigger hills. I met a little bird while I was resting on a park bench who thought my front wheel was a tree we chatted for a while, and this e evening my new best friend is a robin. What else? Oh yes. I embarrassed myself by falling off a very high pavement. trailer first followed by the front wheel of the bike. Managed to stay upright and recover but my attention was firmly focused on the beautiful rear end of the woman I was trying to get past. Will I ever learn?
So tomorrow I will make Bilbao and probably Santandr the day after. So two days, possibly three, and I’m there!
‘ello my luvvers!!
Viva Espagna! Au revoir la France, adios Espagna, bonjour la France! That pretty much sums up my day. I’ll explain. If you look at a map of France and let your eyes glide down to the bottom left hand corner you will see Bayonne, Biaritz, St Jean de Luz and so on. When you get there you realise there is little to distinguish one town from another, and all the people and their cars, trucks, cranes and tractors have all slipped into this corner like counters on an tipped up backgammon board. Bloody he’ll (excuse my French – no really, it is rubbish) I sped down the big hill toward St Senastian when the heavens opened. You know what they say about the rain in Spain, well Im on no plain but it certainly fell on me. Without further ado, and I had done 58 pretty tough miles by then, I turned around and went back to a campsite I saw which was back in France. The receptionist was so worried about me camping in the rain she strongly suggested I should stay in a hotel. I told her, I’m an Englishman and it rains in England ….. And actually, I quite fancied it. I still, but it’s stopped raining.
Faithful readers will remember my frustration at those push button showers and how i was going to invent something to beat them. Well, I’ve done it! All my luggage is held on to the trailer by two heavy duty straps. They’re like the straps you put around the suitcase with a one way friction lock that traps the end of the strap. I tell you, strap that big boy around the stop cock and you can languish in the shower until the pipes clank and the water runs cold! If any of you nick my idea and make a subsequent fortune, death will surely follow you.
So. To Spain again tomorrow. The road I thought I might take a look at to see if it will be rideable is awful. So I will do as lite of that as possible and try meandering along the coast. Easier said than done if you look at the maps but I’ll do it in little nite sized chunks. By the way, I now have o er eight days to do what should only take four days max. We’ll see. Gorra go now. Maps to stare at!
I hope you appreciate that typing on an iPhone is not an exact science hence some of the odd words and spelling.
Hello Blogees (if i am a blogger and you are in receipt of my bloggings, that must by default make you a ….)
What a day I had today. I left the Hicksville trailer park campsite early due, once again, to my noisy neighbours. This time there was only one. This was a gentle giant of a man,a fens man from Cambridge, who carried his seven foot tall frame around on the biggest bike I’ve ever seen. But by god he also has a giant size snore. Never mind though. It meant I was well on the road by 8.30. And what a road it was. About 45 miles of dead straight, flat roads with a medium headwind blowing up from the south. Just like holland with trees and no people. Those sorts of road are incredibly wearing to ride. Usually you get to change tour position frequently according to the terrain. You also get the chance to coast down the occasional hill, but being sat in the same position pedaling for four hours makes your hands, shoulders and arse hurt real bad! I found a sort of cure which was to put the bike in the highest gear and stand up for two or three miles. And of course, it is as boring as he’ll. I got through all my music three times including all the songs for the choir that I have to learn while I’m away. Word perfect now Catharine and Jo! The Tenor Ladies
So I misled you last night and said I might make it to Spain today. No such thing. There’s another day’s riding and a possibility I’ll make it tomorrow if the weather holds out. It was brilliant today because it was cool and misty for most of the morning, with a warm, but not hot afternoon.
I had no idea where I was going to stay tonight but, it being Sunday when France is closed, I was prepared for some wild camping if required. But no need. At just the right time I saw a Camping sign and ended up on the prettiest little site with big shady trees, great showers, and all for €4.35. After 74 miles and an early start, I got here early enough toget almost all my kit washed. It was filthy but I liked it and experienced a sense of loss when all that hard earned filth went down the plughole.
I’ve made another attempt to fix the rattle on my bike – tomorrow will tell if I’ve been successful.
Anything else? I don’t think so. ‘Til tomorrow then. I’ll stick a couple of pictures but they may be a bit random. Bye!
Bienvenu gentle readers. Look at that, almost bilingual! Has anyone else noticed this? The more I wander around rural France, the more it looks like the USA. I’m on a campsite it St Symphoniere that has a collection of cabins, some scrawny trees, a kid with Tourettes and looks for all the world like the home of Cleatus in the simpsons. This place is in a huge national park made up of the forests of Landes. This is the largest man made forest in Western Europe and was planted to provide wood for the ships to fight off the bastard English! That didn’t work because the trees are still here and so am I.
Today was always going to be a fairly short 48 miles, and so it was. It is slighty different from all the others in that I’ve left the CTC route and set off on my own- and it went really well. Leaving St Emilion was tricky, but after a bit of off-roading around the city walls, I got going and barely stopped until lunch. I made a big thing of this today just because I had plenty of time. The day was heating up to incendiary point so I pulled into a leafy lane and set up my stove, made tea, ate lunch and read my book for half an hour. Great! Pedaled on along these dead straight perfect roads (who pays for these roads – my father always used to say the French had soft suspension on their cars to get them over their ‘cart track’ roads. Things have changed) watching the huge cumulo nimbus clouds building in front of me. I thought I wouldmmake it before the heavens opened, but no such luck. 500m outs the village the heavens opened. I found an obliging tree to shelter under (I know, thunderstorms and trees but I made sure it was a pretty short one) and waited while the lightning flashed and the thunder crashed. I got slightly wet but after an afternoon of 30+ temperatures it was a blessed relief.
Anyway, more forest tomorrow and I may make it to Spain – not sure, will check later. Getting close anyway. Au revoir Steve Jobs does not like my French spelling
Well, it’s not surprising when two out of the three systems for navigation let you down. The written instructions from the CTC had a dyslexic jumble g of road numbers, my route on the sat nav went walkies, and when the French started using the flexible Cornish mile for measuring distance, it’s lucky I got here at all
I’ve been on the road a very long today but, with Jessie’s help, found a store reeling gas in screw top cannisters. That involved negotiating the traffic of Liborne and getting great directions from a less than sober cyclist who actually led me for a mile or so and finally left me shouting ‘Cette direction, cette direction’ !!
But now I am in the famous St Emilion on a crowded commercial campsite. It’s been rely not today and, true to form, I cam hear the thunder rumbling away. That puts me about 20 miles west of Bordeaux, so I guess it’s ok to say I’m now in the south of France. A couple more sleeps and I’ll be in Spain
I’m really tired today after a fairly disturbed night last night. On the one side I had three ungodly
Men/Boys who made random noises at random times, and on the other the godly church that binges the hour all through the night. Not so bad at 1,2 & 3 but by 5 it was getting beyond a joke.
Anyway, shortish day tomorrow which I’m looking forward to.
L & K’s mes petites
What you might call a workmanlike day today. Head down and pedaled for 72 miles. IDDD nice and early to get a head start on Ken’s puncture troll. He must have heard men because 6 miles into the day he got me, and again about 20 miles later. I eventually found the almost invisible piece of something embedded in the tyre and put an end to his little games. And a few bits fell off the bike. So this evening in Archiac ( a one horse town where the horse has left out of sheer boredom) I’ve mended three punctures, screwed a few things back on the bike, and stopped a rattle that was driving me CRAZY!
No beer tonight. I ended up drinking more beer with a fellow camper and ate my entire stock of Inuprofen by breakfast.
And my lesson for the day. When you see a supermarket don’t ride past thinking there will be plenty of others because there won’t. Archaic has no shops and I cycled through wheatfields and vineyards with nary a SuperU or Intermarche in sight. Tonight I ate all my emergency rations cos I didn’t get any lunch either. Doh!
No photos today