Cycle Touring. UK to Barcelona
Monday, 2 September 2013
From the South of England to BarcelonaHere are some stats:35 days1209 milesAverage 35 miles a day (this includes all rest days)No punctures (touch Wood)One damaged Achilies tendón (hence the amount of days taken(more about that later))30 quiches and 30 Pain aux Raisin eaten ? bottles of BordeauxAverage cost of camping 10 euros (cheapest was 3 euros 50, most expensive was 20) per nightBrief Info about bike, camping ítems and extras:Thorn Sherpa standard 2013 model with Deore brakes/gearsTyres are Panaracer tourguard 1.75 tyres and Schwalbe innertubes( i change them to Schrader so i´d have more availablity of pump if mine broke/got nicked)Upgraded to Hope hollowtech Bottom Bracket(as my last Shimano BB51 one only lasted just over 1000 miles)Lock is a Kryptonite D lock with cable.Pump is a Topeak roadmorph GStove is a Higear collapsable stove with an Eldrid adaptor for using Camping gaz cartridgesTent is old Alpha 200Matress is Thermarest (with chair kit)Sleeping bag is basic 3 season eurohike jobbyMaps i´m using are the yellow Michelin ones that show cycle routes but although these are only bought last year a few of the routes aren´t shown. In addition to these maps i would get some other cycle path (or Voir Verte) info, along with campsite info, from the Tourist Info Centre(TIC) once i had a rough idea of my mileage i´d be doing.One rock peg which has been invaluable for some site as some of the pitches are more like hardstandings than anything.
i knew from previous experience that during this route down through France, even though it could be 30 degrees and sunny, at this time of year i could have problem with campsites being open. There were issues with this so i would have to think ahead and go to the TIC(Tourist Info Centre) earlier in the day to get a heads up for my next campsite. This would sometimes mean i would have to adjust my mileage significantly to make it fit.
=============================================================================Day 1 Tuesday 10th Sept 2013 Poole to Brockenhurst27 miles (total 27)Thought i´d done a half decent job of packing light and keeping things fairly minimalistic but for some reason my bike weighs 47kgs.I wanted to get an early arrival into St malo and the best ferry for that was one going out of Portsmouth so day 1 and 2 is getting to Porstmouth. I had thought of doing the 61 miles straight off but decided in the end to make it a more relaxed start to the trip.I met my friend Bob at Bournemouth Pier and used the promenade to Christchurch. Using the NCN route 2 through Christchurch and the New Forest to Brockenhurst where we camped using the website “campinmygarden”Camping was 8 pounds each Day 2 Wednesday 11th Sept Brockenhurst to Portsmouth34 miles (total 61)Continuing on the next day and through the New Forest using NCN 2 to Hythe and the old train that takes you to the ferry across to Southampton. Still using NCN 2 and taking the very small, quirky and very pink ferry at Hamble –Rice to Warsash and onto Portsmouth via another ferry not quite so small, quirky or pink.
Day 15 Tuseday 24th Sept La Rochelle to Marennes47 miles (total 480)popped into La Rochelle TIC and nearby bought an awesome Pain aux Raisin and an amazing salmon quiche.Stopped at Chatelion Plage which was nice and had one of the best coffee´s and watched the world go by.Stopped at Rochefort TIC for camp info and headed south to the “transborder bridge” which is over 100 years old, only 1 euro 50 cents and is a total “must”.
Not only is a really nice crossing instead of the large bridge to the west but it also takes you straight onto the best road heading due south to the next cycle path along the canal de Seudre. This wasn´t the easiest to find but with some very bad French i found it and glad i did too as it was a lovely ride. Then onto a cycle route though marshland which was signposted fairly well all the way to Marennes where i´m camping in a place called Au Bon Air which also seems to have it´s fair share of mozzies which were attacking as i decamped the next day. Day 16 Wednesday 25th Sept Marennes to Grayan-et-L´Hopital41 miles (total 521)foggy start which was nice and cool.Over bridge to Tremblade and picked up 2 nice quiches.Easy riding down to Royan using some quite D roads and cycle paths.Missed the 2pm ferry at Royan by 2 mins but because of that met nice French and Spanish guy cycle touring.Got the 3.45 ferry.Landed at port bloc and used the coastal cycle route to Euronat (great site) near Grayan-et-L´Hopital where the French guy(Thierry) and myself shared a camp spot so halved the cost.
Day 18 Friday 26th Sept Grayan-et-L´Hopital to Lacanau Ocean40 miles (total 567)Despite forecast of blistering sun it was pleasant with quite a bit of cloud. Flat and on the “piste” all the way . Got into Lacanau Ocean and there was only one campsite open that was unfortunately a 4 star. My experience of 4 star campsites isn´t 4 star and this was no exception. It was called the “air hotel” and was 20 euros for the night. i´m not sure why their ground cost more than the others but when i asked the woman said it was because i was by the ocean. Telling her that i´d been by the ocean for 2 weeks and my normal price for camping was 10 euros didn´t seem to have much effect. Day 19 Saturday 28th Sept Lacanau Ocean to Mios44 miles (total 611)i hit the TIC in Lacanau for more info and some Wifiing.Using the road down to Ares i experienced some disrespectful driving which isn´t my general experience of being in France. Got back on the Piste at Lege and it was really nice. Stopped in Biganos for supplies but found all there was were large USA style mega-shopping malls.On to Mios where i found nice quiet(at the time of arriving) campsite called “camping L´Eyre”. Despite it being a municpal site i found it better than the 4 star one previous.Mega loud disco music started up at 9pm and went through to 3 am.Camping 8 euros 50 Day 20 Sunday 29th Sept Mios to St. Symphorien31 miles (total 642)i hit the TIC at Mios which surprisingly was open but the woman their was bordering on useless so i figured i was just going to wing it finding a campsite later that day.Got supplies from a deli and the most incredible”Basque quiche” which was as tasty as it was expensive. Using the Piste was easy going from Mios through Salles and Belin-Béliet and beyond through milea and miles of pine trees with virtuall nobody around. On some stretches i would do 10 miles without a soul.
Day 23 Wednesday 2nd Oct Valence D´Agen to Grissoles41 miles (total 788)no camp coffee as too many mozzies .Moissac was a nice town where i stopped early for the usual Quiche and P.A.Raisin and also to check the TIC early for camp info.Got to campsite in Grissoles which is good . I have my own “backpacker” section above the other campsite with own picnic table.Internet is 50 centsit was 31 degress today and 20 degrees at night . Camping at Grissoles 10 Euros Day 24 Thursday 3rd Oct Grissoles to Deyme32 miles (total 820)de-camped just intime before rain started.Quiche and P.A.R stop in town and into head wind towards Toulouse. Coming into the outskirts of the town there are people living next to the canal in either tents or make-shift sheds. Some of the dwellings have been there so long that they now have their own post boxes.Centre of town was all the usual trendy and expensive shops. What a diference.Stopped for very nice menu du jour , by the canal on way out of town , mainly to get out of the rain. It was 20 euros with 2 coarses , wine and coffee.Camped up at Deyme for 8 euros.Initially the woman at reception said it was closed to tents but maybe out of pity she allowed me to stay there.There was supposed to be a big storm so i was shown to a emplacement that shouldn´t flood.During the night we didn´t get a drop of rain and i de-camped in the dry.Camping les Violettes 8 euros
Day 25 Friday 4th Oct Deyme to Alzonne43 miles (total 863)back on the canal and getting into Castelnaudary the towpath has really deteriorated. I head into the town and just as i stop outside a bar the heavens opened with such ferrocity i had no choice but to stop and shelter.... and have a couple of beers. The roads turned into rivers within a couple of minutes. After the downpoor had stopped i headed to the TIC, then attempted to get back on the tow path. Bad idea as the surface has now, along with the tree roots, has turned to a clay/mud mixture which nicely fills my mudguards to the point that i can´t even push my bike along. At which point i abandon the tow path and hit the road where for, not the first time, i´m not getting the respect i´d had in previous rides through France.Camping at “la Pujade” in Alzonne which is good. Free wifi and 10 Euros .
Day 26 Saturday 5th Oct Alzonne to Rustiques28 miles (total 891)
as forecast the wind is westerly and the sun is out. Using the small roads was really nice wi wonderful scenery . Into Carcassonne and went up to the “Cite” which is definately worth a visit despite it´s touristic feel.
Day 27 Sunday 6th Oct Rustiques to Narbonne40 miles (total 931)keeping to the quiet roads and it´s really nice with vineyards either side.
Day 33 Saturday 12th Oct Palafrugell to Blanes44 miles (total 1151)after probably the best nights camping of the trip i head to get supplies and am missing the Pain aux Raisin and Quiche already and grab a snickers instead.On the C31 into Palamos and the C253 through Platja dÁro which is mega touristy.Then i hit 14 miles of some serious hill and switchbacks similar to the Basque country.More great views of landscape to the west and the med to the east with glimpses of sandy coves and turquoise sea.