A little more than 2000 km by bike over 6 weeks... About 650 km by train also to reduce the distances between Toulouse and La Réole, Saint-Nazaire and Nantes then La Rochelle and Toulouse. Three boats to reach the Ile aux Moines, Batz and Brehat. And also more than 800 photos to share the beauty of the places I crossed: the passage of the magic and mythical Gois, Nantes that I discovered, the Pink Granite coast?
This year the stages will have been shorter than last year, the weather was better and I will have done more camping. As we are in France I met more friends on the way.
This blog is a way to keep a link with my friends in Toulouse and elsewhere. It’s also a way to present my trip to the people I meet on the way even if I’m quite shy about broadcasting and I’ve only given the address of this site to a few people. Maybe it’s a pity because every time I did it, it was very well received: people were quite happy to go and see the pictures and the few words of comments?
So this site is seen by relatively few people, except when from time to time someone passes on the link elsewhere...
It took me less time than last year to update it. Last year I had to correct the dates of the GPX track. After contacting support I finally received an update from Canway (the software to extract the tracks from the key), which at least solved this problem.
A difficulty appeared when my USB tracker didn’t want to give me back the tracks I made. I guess it was my USB hub whose connection cable was a bit damaged... because when I got home, I was able to retrieve the tracks and see (but I suspected) that I had traveled a few dozen kilometers more than the theoretical one over the last few days...
Problems also with the OVH accommodation which made me tear my hair out a few times: once I had taken a lot of pictures and I had selected 45... at the finish because of technical problems there were only 25... It’s a pity to let the content of your blog be dictated by technical limitations... but the site is only a means... it’s the journey that’s the goal !
I had the pleasure to be hosted by a lot of friends on the way: Christian in Sauveterre de Guyenne (Warmshowers), Rasta in Bordeaux, Guy in Bourg, Fabrice and his family in Saujon, Rosine and her companion for the meal in Savenay, Bruno and Vanessa in Le Conquet, Monique (Jean’s aunt) and Jean-Michel in Trevou-Treguignec, Bertrand in Loguivy de la mer...
There are also the three days of cycling with Marc and Béné along the Canal de Nantes à Brest from Mûr de Bretagne.
We always forget something! This time there were two things I forgot that bothered me:
- The survival blanket... left at home it would have been very useful when the nights got cool.
- chain oil... I had planned a small bottle that closes well. With dust on the paths and humidity at night the chain squeaked several times... Luckily I always found help from other campers or friends.
So I’ve been camping most of the time. Quite pleasant most of the time and more conducive to meetings than the hotels where the rooms are rented.
There’s everything in campsites, what’s sure is that for itinerant campers like me it’s not the number of stars that’s important, quite the contrary even sometimes.
Some campsites to avoid if you can:
- Roscoff: the campsite of the"Quatre Saisons" where the reception is minimal, the tent pitches are not even marked out and the restaurant provides not good food.
- Ile de Noirmoutier : the only advantage of the Clère campsite is a nicely wooded site (in the forest of la Chaise) for the rest, sanitary facilities from another time, high price (20€+ for a person with a tent) and do not take neither the CB nor the holiday vouchers . On this island according to other hikers the campsite of La Guérinière would be very good with correct prices.
Some pleasant campsites:
- Saint-Jean du Doigt: if you don’t need a network (white zone ++) this small campsite is cheap (7.20€ hiker), very shady and quiet.
- Binic: the municipal campsite of Les Fauvettes also has a hiker’s pass (10.20€) and offers tents to be on the cliff in front of the sea, along the customs path.
I met a lot of people who were camping in the wilderness and for whom it was absolute freedom. People usually young, young couples, a mother with her children, ...
We’ve already talked about the survival blanket I missed... On the road I’ve also added an inflatable pillow, better than the rolled clothes (especially when you need the said clothes ^^)
The self-inflating mattress... I had several times back pain and I realized that I often inflated the mattress in full sun, at night and quite a few degrees less the pressure was not the same anymore! I had to give the mattress a little more consistency just before going to sleep. So next year: keep the same mattress or try something else?
Getting a seat: three-quarters of the cyclists I met had a small folding seat that takes up almost no space and provides a minimum of comfort. Important if the ground is wet or really uncomfortable. I’m going to make this acquisition for the next trip!
Finally if I really have to camp in the rain... will the tent be OK? It will hold, yes, but wouldn’t it be better to have a tent with a real awning or a separate room that allows you to get shelter? This was the choice made by some cyclists we met who had been to Scandinavia ... I think I’ll do again next season with this tent and then we’ll see...
Every night I would decide on my itinerary for the next day. Often with https://graphhopper.com/maps/ but this time I was able to download the routes directly from https://www.lavelodyssee.com/ or https://www.lavelomaritime.fr/. But even with these routes sometimes there were some differences with the bike signs on the road. You had to choose^^
The equipment is almost identical to last year.
The only notable change is the semi-automatic pedals (one side attached to the shoe, one "normal" side). The gain in power is clear on flat and moderate ribs... on the other hand in the more pronounced ribs I gain nothing. I guess I have to learn how to pedal ^^ By typing "efficient pedaling" in a search engine you can find a lot of articles that give useful tips. For example this one: how-to-get-an-effective-pedaling. It’s not a question of looking for performance but by pedalling better to increase ease and comfort: if I manage to do the planned tour Spain-Portugal I’ll have a lot of nice slopes!
So just a few more tweaks and practices... But ready to leave for a longer bike ride I hope next year!