First I have to apologise to all among the three of you that read to find out about the human aspect of the trip, this post is mainly about riding. Geek riding galore I’d say.
Second on the strength of this riding day I’d like the caption of the picture above to be: “I think they just got me good”
Let me start saying that, as I used to say to my good wife, and probably to some of you too:
it’s a tough job to be right, but someone has got to do it.
The most asked question in conversation over the past year, as soon as I was mentioning my bike ride project, was What kind of physical preparation are you going to do?. My answer was more often than not, None, I’ll just start slowly and build up from there. Well I guess the preparation has now been completed and it’s time to start riding for real.
Tomorrow morning approximately 8 miles into the ride I will get to the first thousand miles, one twelfth of the way to South Africa. I did not really set myself this as a preparation distance, it is quite coincidental that I feel ready when in proximity of this milestone.
How do I know I’m ready? That’s easy, I did 69 miles today at an average speed of 14.5 MpH. The wind was from the west so you can see from the map below that there were only few places where it pushed me along.
I also have climbed more than 20,000 feet, two thirds of the high of commercial aviation, and while the last few days have been easy on the inclines, I have done the Lake District, the Peak District and The Cotswold which were so not.
Finally I have not camped a great deal but I have had pretty much one of all between home stays, B&B, hotel, hostels and camp sites. I have learned not to worry too much about where I’m sleeping and that there will always be a place to stay at the end of the day.
So there you go, preparation done!
Now a few things about today. To start with I found it a bit of a struggle to get out of bed, it was earlier than usual on account of the breakfast being served at eight, and also because I was still humming and harring about the option of the Cap Ferret ferry. As you can see from the map there are several ferry routes between Cap Ferret and Arcachon, unfortunately it’s off season so there is only one route and only very few departures. In the end I got to the top of the promontory with only twenty minutes to go to the viable crossing and I decided that I’d have to go around.
The sea was quite big all day and the wind from the west kept the saltire showing well. The ride down along the coast was very scenic, I would suggest this area above all other in France if you want to do cycling. The bicycle routes are immaculate and there are plenty of bike rentals around.
By the time I got to lunch time I had done more than forty five miles and the original destination had been dropped in favour of a more ambitious one. I managed to find a place by the side of the road where I had a delicious Tex-Mex Baguette. The lady in the boulangerie was quite funny as she warned me it was going to be spicy, I guess the french taste for delicate flavours might have explained it as I did find it very nice but not all that spicy.
As you can see, my lunchtime accommodation is not too dissimilar from yesterday, I have to confess I did not take the log with me but I checked around before sinking my teeth into the sandwich if there were any dogs on the prowl.
I was blessed again with good weather but I have become more savvy with it. When I was ten miles away from the end of the stage I noticed a storm on the horizon so, being the wind westerly, I just stopped, drunk, did a bit of messaging and then I restarted when the storm had moved away. I’m sure this technique works well in this flat land and when there are only localised downpours, we’ll see how it fares further along.
And the luck continued as I had just got into the room when this came up outside the window, heralding more rain.
To close today I’ll just tell you that the whole 69 miles where completed listening to the complete works of The Cranberries, an often overlooked Irish band of the nineties with a spectacular lead singer in Dolores O’Riordan. Some of you might remember Zombie but I prefer the more deep and meaningful Daffodil Lament.