The 2019 cycle tour was from Montpellier, down on the Mediterranean, all the back up to the ferry port at Roscoff. The first part of the journey would be along the Canal du Midi, which joins the Med to the Atlantic. Then we’d follow the La Vélodyssée North, up the coastline. Simon would be with us until day 4, when he’d fly home from Toulouse. Alan until day 7, when he’d fly out of Bordeaux. Dad and I would take a train from Nantes to Morlaix, as we’ve previously cycled that stretch.

And I would be keeping a journal, at the end of each day, in order to write a post like this. And I’ve decided to try and retain that ‘diary’ element in the bulk of this post. Mainly to try something new. And certainly not because I’m too lazy to rewrite everything into a more coherent, flowing style…

Wednesday 4th

In Departures, as the 2019 Cycle tour finally gets under way.

The first issue was getting to Montpellier. Fortunately, there was a direct flight from Bristol. Simon, dad and I all live in Somerset, South West England, and, normally, one of us would drive the others to the airport. But we were all going this time! Fortunately, Steve, one of Simon’s oldest friends, agreed to take us all up on his bus. Alan, who lives in Northern Ireland, would fly in from Belfast and meet us at at Bristol Airport. Thanks, Steve, that was much appreciated.

Alan was already at Bristol Airport. His flight had been delayed so he didn’t arrive until after midday. So he stayed up there. He met us at the bus with two trolleys, and we fought the bikes and bags into check-in. The check-in process went well. The bikes were oversize, of course, which always involves an extra bit of faffing, but we got them on as smoothly as could be expected.

Simon got pinged at customs. The new spanner he’d just bought was confiscated. Along with his sun cream.

Simon explaining to Customs how such a seasoned traveler could also be quite such a muppet, while Alan ‘helps’.
And the 2019 Cycle tour hadn’t even started yet!

The flight was half empty, which was awesome. We ended up on the emergency exit seats, for no extra cost. Even better, the flight touched down a bit early, at 9 p.m. We put the bikes together reasonably smoothly, despite Simon forgetting to bring dad’s pannier clip… Honestly, at this rate Simon was in danger of a dishonorable discharge from the entire 2019 Cycle tour!

But, despite the setbacks, we were at our digs by 10. Our room contained one double and two single beds and was a smoking room, by the smell of it. There was nowhere close by to get provisions. We filled our water bottles from the tap, when it finally, ran clear…

No one slept well. Not due to snoring, we all had ear defenders. For me, it was too early to tuck down. For the others it might have been anticipation. Or the beds…

Thursday 5th

Day 1 of 2019 Cycle Tour
Strava activity report for the day.

Up at 7:15 and a fairly organised build up to breakfast. The choice of breakfast at the Aeroport Hotel was broad and deep. I had fresh pineapple and a yoghurt from the chiller cabinet, a bowl of cereal, some fruit juice and a couple of pastries. I also had some bread, ham and cheese. Simon boiled himself an egg. Alan swiped as much as he could carry, including a grapefruit, for some reason!

We collected our bikes from the storage room we’d been able to keep them in, went outside, loaded up and did the final preparations. Alan attached a handlebar bag. I put my phone case on and plugged it into the hub USB. We’d be using the Google Maps app on my phone as the primary method of navigation on the 2019 Cycle tour. To prepare for this, I’d had a dynamo added to my front wheel, with a USB unit on the handle bar to power a device, as well as the bike lights.

I plugged my phone into the USB port and… I don’t think it charged all day, which is a real disappointment. Fortunately I brought a dedicated battery pack to charge my phone. And another to charge my watch. I like to travel light! I needed to keep the watch charged, as it would be recording the data from the journey. Not just my heart rate and time exercising, but the GPS trace of each day’s journey.

Just a quick note about my watch, which is the Garmin Vivosmart HR+. I nearly killed it! There were long swathes of time where I actually fantasized about smashing it with a sledgehammer the minute I got home. When I’m cycling, it struggles to find my pulse, which isn’t great on a cycle tour. What’s worse is that it vibrates every 5 seconds to let me know that it can’t find my pulse.

Every! Five! Seconds!

All the watch achieves, in doing this, is draining its charge in less than two hours. It’s so sodding frustrating! And it has the audacity to have the word Smart in it’s name. It’s not cheap though, so I went without the pleasure of atomising it, when I got back.

But, I digress…

When we were all road worthy I put Sete in Google Maps, to keep us off the main roads. The route we were given took us alongside a canal that ran through a series of coastal lake, next to the sea. You don’t see that very often!

The path, running to the left of the canal, with lakes on either side.
What a start to the first day of the 2019 Cycle tour.

The route was, however, horribly exposed to the very high winds that would dog us all day. The track was also extremely gravelly in places and pretty rough in a lot of others. It was a fascinating ride though.

In Sete we stopped at a supermarket and got some lunch for later.

From Sete, I set the route to Adge and we continued in a similar vein. Just before we got there, the twins took a dip in the Med. The wind took the opportunity to blow very fine sand into all of our chains and gears. We need to clean that off ASAP.

We had lunch in Adge and then set off towards Beziers, along the Canal du Midi. By now we were all very hot and the wind was sapping our energy fast.

Dad had been unable to find anywhere that would take the four of us, for the night, so we’d be splitting up. Dad and I are in Atmosphere in Poilhes. The twins are two miles further on in Capestang. We’ll catch up with them tomorrow morning.

The last couple of hours were really rough. Alan was knackered. Dad was taking a kicking from the wind. We did stop for an ice cream at a leisure park place, but I don’t think we stopped enough. We certainly had a couple of exhaustion stops later on…

I was getting frustrated that we were on our bikes for so long. Personally, I felt fine and that I was cycling within myself. I kept trying to get dad and Alan to tuck in behind me, and shelter from the wind, but they weren’t doing it. That meant we were slower than we could have been. I do understand that a tour is all about the journey, not the destination. But, equally, I like to have time to explore our destinations, when we get there. I do wonder whether I have the right temperament for cycle tours…?

Travel Bunny, on the other hand, seems to be perfectly suited to the 2019 Cycle tour.

In the end, dad and I did 67 miles and the journey took 9 hours and 45 minutes. We must have been in the saddle for eight and a half hours. We didn’t get to the digs until 6 pm. I just don’t see how this can be sustainable.

The digs are good. A double and a single. Dad gave me the double. The host gave us a water and a Coke each. She booked us a table at the local restaurant. Our bikes are in the garage.

The meal was pretty good. I had a gourmet salad and a Monkfish main. Dad just had some bread and cheese, and a little honey. It all came to €36. The restaurant was la Tour Sarrasine.

Back to the room. Dad’s asleep and snoring. I’m very tired and about to tuck down. Dad’s snoring hard! Just as well I have my ear defenders…

Breakfast tomorrow is booked for 8 am. Wake up call at 7:15.

Friday 6th

Day 2 of 2019 Cycle Tour
Strava activity report for the day

Breakfast was fine. We set off at about 0845, but I forgot to start my watch.

Got to Capestang at 9ish. Found an Intermarche, which dad investigated while I went off to find the twins. Remembered to start my watch. Got lucky and came across them quite soon. Just as well, because I went straight to answer phone on both of their phones. We got some bits at the supermarket, but not lunch. The plan was to have a sit down meal somewhere.

Google Maps took us up to the canal, and off we went. The Maps route for the day said 75km and 4 hours, but that was if we used the roads. Dad doesn’t like roads because he can’t turn his head well enough to see what’s coming, which means that vehicles are on him, before he knows about it. Often, far too close for comfort. The problem is, his mirror fell off and broke yesterday. I must remember to give him mine tomorrow.

Brief interlude: I’m in the digs now and the church bells just chimed for 11pm. Twice! There was also a random ‘dong’ earlier. Maybe at half past… Quite why bells need to ring at all, at this time, is beyond me!

Anyway…

The path along the canal was rough. Virtually all of it! It was rough yesterday, as well, but I think today was worse. There were some smoother bits but at some point one of dads panniers jumped clean off his bike, without anyone noticing it. Now, that’s pretty rough…

I noticed it was gone and went back to look for it. I ditched my own panniers to travel faster. After a while I realised that both of my puncture repair kits were in the same pannier! I rectified that when I got back; one is now in my top bag.

I found the pannier a couple of miles back, clipped it on and turned around. About half way back, I met Simon, who was coming the other way, for reasons that I’m still not sure about. He certainly didn’t have a puncture repair kit either…

That extra effort caught up with me later in the day, and I had to eat a cereal bar to compensate. At which point the wind was also back up.

We did dip onto the roads occasionally, but only if they were quiet enough.

Lunch was an interesting affair. The restaurant did a €19 3-course set menu. The portions were huge but the service wasn’t quick. It also came with a 1/4 wine. Which turned out to be 250 ml… Each! Dad and I weren’t drinking, which meant the twins had the better part of a pint of wine each with lunch. And a pastis! I’m surprised that one of them didn’t fall in the canal!

Nom Nom Nom. Or, perhaps more appropriately, Glug Glug Glug!

We finished lunch at close to 2:30 pm, having done about 25 miles. We didn’t know it at the time, but we had nearly 40 more to go.

Today was a loooong day.

We didn’t get to the digs until nearly 7:30 pm. By the time we got in and had our ablutions, it was time for our meal. The landlady had booked us a table at the local restaurant.

Dad didn’t eat, he can’t usually stomach a heavy meal after a lot of exercise, so it was just the twins and me. Dad was asleep by the time I got back.

The service was very slow. We had pizzas and apple pie. It was all very nice but very calorific.

As the twins point out, it is the meals and the rest times that you remember. Those are the good times that you take away with you. In which case, today was a good day. Two good meals and a nice drinks stop in the morning.

The cycling, for me though, was very hard, mentally. We’re spending too long in the saddle. The wind and track surface is slowing us down horribly. Not being able to use the roads is a killer, psychologically. My phone will offer a distance to destination, but it will be on a road, so we reject that for the canal and the time and distance jump up.

Only I can see this happening. It’s so dispiriting. The number of times we got below 3 hours remaining, only to go back on the canal and have the time jump above 3 hours again…

We cycled for hours, with me watching the time remaining jumping back above 3 hours again and again. The same happened, to a lesser extent, around the one hour mark.

The other problem is that I’m the strongest rider, this time around. I know I could do the journey a couple of hours quicker. I know I shouldn’t think on that but it’s hard not to, when people aren’t tucking in behind me to get out of the wind.

Although, to be fair, that went much better today. But drafting only really works on the roads, where the surface is flat enough that you can assume the track in front of you is safe. On the canal, you often can’t risk getting right on the wheel in front, in case the terrain sucks. You need to see what’s coming.

I’m not sure if the photo does it justice, but that track was rough!

On that note, things might improve tomorrow. The landlady told one of the twins that, after the next village, the canal path is tarmacked. God, I hope this is true; it’ll make life soooo much easier. And mean less time in the saddle. The wind looks like being lighter too.

Because my arse hurts!

It’s basically raw from just being sat on for so many hours. My hands are sore, too.

But I’ve got to find a way of coping with all this, because my frustration is coming through.

I finally cottoned on, today, that the object of the 2019 Cycle tour is to ride the canal. But I regret not having the flexibility of using the roads, when time and circumstances are conspiring against us.

The wind is just a force of nature that can’t be accounted for. But the distances we’re trying to cycle along the uneven surface of the canal paths are too far. Consequently, I think dad’s finding it harder than he was expecting to. Alan hasn’t trained and is relying on his background levels of fitness, which, as it turns out, isn’t enough. Only Simon and I seem comfortable with the rides.

But none of this can be helped, now; I just need to get on with it.

The problem is, that I’m not enjoying the rides; they’re just too long. And, because of that, I’m getting myself worked up about things that are beyond my control.

We’re getting up earlier tomorrow, to get off earlier and get to the digs earlier. But that doesn’t really help anything; the travel time will be the same.

The only real change is that there is less time to sleep tonight. So we’re getting up at 7 am. And I’m now finishing this off at 11:45 pm. Which means I can’t get enough sleep tonight, and I’ll definitely be tired tomorrow. But then I want to keep this record, because I regret not doing so on the previous trips.

Dad got the double tonight. I’m in a sofa bed. I don’t have high hopes for a restful night…

We were initially all in one room. The landlady decided to change that to two rooms when she saw us. That was a wonderful move on her part, because four trying to go through one shower and toilet would have got old, fast.

Saturday 7th

Day 3 of 2019 Cycle Tour
Strava activity report for the day

Up at 7 after not enough sleep. Head ache from dehydration. Feeling very tired.

Breakfast was good. Plenty to choose from. Lots of home-made Madelines and pancakes and the like.

It was cold when we set off. The first part of the ride was on the road until we hooked up with the canal.

The ride was much better today. At least, the second half was: that was on tarmac…

Mind you, even the first half was improved. There were less stops and more moving, ‘putting the miles in’. All of which meant that we reached our digs before 6. A vast improvement.

We had a picnic lunch again today. Oddly enough, at a motorway service station. The Aire butted up against the canal, and there were some picnic benches by the path. So we grabbed one. We’d got all the food from a Spar, earlier. Alan got me a tin of Foie Gras by way of a birthday present…

I asked him why he hated ducks so much. He said that Foie Gras was made ethically, these days. Simon and I spent the rest of the day convincing him that Foie Gras was still ‘torture pate’. [I still have the Foie Gras, I don’t know what to do with it. Eating it doesn’t seem right. But throwing it away seems wrong, too… So, on my shelf it remains!]

Picnic lunches were a defining feature of the 2019 Cycle tour

We also stopped for a morning and afternoon drink. Which was ideal. Unfortunately, we’re having to take regular, and increasingly frequent, stops to rest our butts. We’re all pretty sore now.

Dad was also pretty knackered by the time we arrived. As well he should be! He’s 77 and has just cycled 200 miles in three days, with something like 25 hours in the saddle. How many people are there in their 70s who would even contemplate such a thing? Much less complete it.

Where we are costs €99 and is a little terraced cabin in a Butlins type place. The upper bit has a double bed that dad and I are sharing. There’s a small double sofa bed downstairs that the twins are sharing. There are, however, laundry facilities and I’m writing this up while I wait for the tumble dryer to finish. €3 for a wash and €2 for a dry. It’ll be nice to have everything clean again.

Once it’s done, the twins are dragging me for a “10 minute ride’ to a restaurant. This, after eight and a half hours of cycling and 72 miles already today. I’m not overly enamored with the idea, particularly as I’ll be wearing pants and the seams will rub on my sore bits. But, what are you going to do? Besides, it’s Simon’s last night and he’s buying!

The meal with the twins was nice. We had burgers in the only place that was open in the village. It was good food though, and a nice natter.

On a different note. Alan tweaked an Achilles today and is a little bit hobbled. Dad is getting rubbed raw in places by his saddle. I had something similar when we did the Way of St James, so I have some antiseptic cream and dressings with me. I think they’re going to be needed.

I’m genuinely tired, at this point…

Sunday 8th

Day 4 of 2019 Cycle Tour
Strava activity report for the day

I forgot to start my watch again but, thankfully, remembered about a mile into the journey.

There was no breakfast laid on. Or there was, but it was €8 each for not much, so were skipped it. Fortunately, there was a bakery situated just off our route after a couple of miles, so we stopped there for drinks and pastries. It was really rather pleasant.

From there we cut across country to find the canal, at which point Simon departed. It was a bit of an emotional farewell. It was also very strange heading off with just the three of us.

The rest of the ride was reasonably uneventful. I took the lead and the other two spent most of the day in line behind me. I was able to go up a gear, today, making the average speed of the ride better than previously. The track was also excellent all day and there was little in the way of wind.

We stopped for a very expensive morning drink in a place where they put almonds down for you. This is a sure sign you’re going to get ripped off.

And then there were three left on the 2019 Cycle tour

At lunch time, we came off the canal and found a bakery. Dad and Alan had a slice of pizza and I had a ham baguette. Everyone said the abbey in the centre of town was amazing, so we went for a look. I was more interested in the sign that promised artisanal ice creams and got myself one. It was excellent.

We stopped for an afternoon drink with a couple on a tandem that we kept passing. They’d taken a few months off and cycled to Cappadocia and back. They were due to finish in Bordeaux, two days later… we’d actually see them one last time, during lunch the following day.

The digs were better than the day before but based on a similar theme. This time the rooms were stacked in a hotel, instead of spread out in a camp. We were on the third floor. Our room had a double in the main area (Dad) and twins in the loft bit. It got very hot up there!

Alan and I went out to an All You Can Eat Oriental place. I ate far too much. Then we took some bread and fruit back for dad.

Overall, it was a better cycling day.

Monday 9th

Day 5 of 2019 Cycle Tour
Strava activity report for the day

It was a chilly start today. In fact it wasn’t a warm day at all. I could have got away without any sun cream…

The day started in the cafe next to the Intermarche Hypermarket, as we waited for it to open at 9. Drinks and pastries, it was.

Alan and I did the shopping. I was after extra dressings for dad but I couldn’t find anything. I did find an interesting cream cheese with local nuts in but Alan put that back when I wasn’t looking. Something I would only find out when I was making the lunch…

Git!

When we set off from the Intermarche and got down to the canal, we made really good time. The track was worse that yesterday, more gravelly. Even so, we were able to go faster. I was up another gear and stayed there all day. At least for the time we were on the canal.

We stopped for a drink at a far more reasonably priced place, and watched a robot lawn mower trundle around the place.

Sometimes during the 2019 Cycle tour, Travel Bunny liked to make his own way.

We broke for lunch when we only had 2 hours left. We just stopped by the canal and had a picnic.

About an hour later we came off the canal and headed into the hills. Our afternoon drink was at the foot of said hills. The last hour was over rolling countryside and was a real shock to the system. That said, we still made very good time and hit the digs at about 5 pm. Not bad for a 60 mile ride.

The digs were awesome. it’s like an Airbnb. Dad has the double downstairs. Alan and I are together. He’s in the bottom bunk. I’m on a double sofa bed. There is a separate kitchen/dining area and the bikes are in a tiny back garden.

The town we’re in, Sauveterre-de-Guyenne, used to be a prison for British soldiers. It’s a fascinating place. Alan and I ate at a hotel restaurant. It had a mixed buffet/set menu and was pretty good. We got to talking to a local British ex-pat and her friend from New Zealand. They were about dad’s age and he’d have loved to chat with them. But he wasn’t there, so we did it instead.

Another good day. Also the first where we’ve averaged over 10 mph.

Tuesday 10th

Day 6 of 2019 Cycle Tour
Strava activity report for the day

Woke up tired today. I haven’t managed seven and a half hours sleep since the morning we over slept. I’m not even sure that I managed it then…

Anyway, I need to tuck down earlier tonight. Which should be doable, as I’m starting to write this at just gone 10.

We got up at 0730 and headed up to the town square to see the market. There wasn’t much on, and everything was very expensive, so we got some pastries from the bakery and ate them on the way back to the digs.

Then it was a case of tidying everything up as much as possible. We all really liked this place. It was the husband who came to check us out, after the wife and her daughter checked us in the previous night.

The journey out of town was on a ‘Green Route’, which is a disused railway that has been turned into a cycle path.

It’s a brilliant idea.

And for cyclists, it’s great because trains can’t manage more than a 5% gradient, which means that we never have to. Of course, you can end up staying on 5% for a loooooong time, and that is quite sapping.

Dad and I ended up on one of these on our last trip, and it wasn’t good. The trail was made of packed sand. And it was chucking it down. It made the cycling incredibly heavy and everything ended up covered in the sand. We had to hose it all down when we got to our digs…

The Green Route on the 2019 Cycle tour living up to its name.

Thankfully, this one was perfect. As such we made excellent time. We stopped for a drink before 11 am, having covered about a third of the journey. Next to the cafe was a tourist information office. They gave us a map of the Green Route. They then gave us copies of the maps of the canal routes we’d covered. Perfect mementos. We got a set each.

The thing I’ve realised about canals is that they follow a contour. As such, they curve all over the landscape, often more or less doubling back on themselves. They are the exact opposite of Roman Roads, which just go from point A to point B; the landscape be damned!

Green Routes are somewhere in between. They go as directly as they can, providing they don’t exceed their gradient limit. This does mean they can lack directness at times.

They’re good routes, though, because the station buildings, the station master’s houses and the level crossing houses are all still there. Many have been re-purposed. Some are derelict, which just makes you want to buy them and do them up.

From where we had our drink stop, to our lunch break in Bordeaux, there was a total descent of more than 100 meters. This meant we were really able to motor on. It was a bit chilly, though. I actually started the day wearing my waterproof. Not least because it had rained overnight. and drips were a real possibility!

Anyway, we got into Bordeaux and found a place to eat. Alan wanted a McDonald’s but, thankfully, we couldn’t find one. We stopped at an Italian restaurant instead. Alan had a salad, for some reason. Dad and I had a Calzone. Alan finished dads, despite being stuffed from all those leaves he’d just eaten…

After the meal, Maps found a good way out of Bordeaux. Then it all went wrong.

The road signs showed cycle paths to all sorts of places. There was one to Royane, and another to Blaye. And we weren’t going to either of those places. But the temptation was to follow the physical cycle paths we could see, instead of what Maps was showing. It didn’t help that Maps kept trying to take us down really rough tracks, that would have been a struggle at the best of times. With dad’s soreness, we were a long way from the best of times.

The pain from saddle sores is cumulative, so dad always struggles more at the end of the day. He got quite short with Alan, who was keen to follow the rough tracks. In the end, I changed the setting on Maps to ‘car’, and we ended up on the D2, which was quite a busy road. There were plenty of other cyclists on it, though.

Despite all the confusion, we reached the digs at 1640. This was a shame because we couldn’t check in until 1700. I went for an explore to find a restaurant, but there weren’t many logical choices. There was one overpriced sit down place and a couple of general takeaways. There was also a chocolatier and a patisserie. Oh, and a strange little corner shop, that was also a boutique. Dad got some plums from there.

The digs turned out to be a Youth Hostel type place. We were given a four person room, on the first floor. There was another four person room, up there, and a double. Plus one shared toilet and one shared shower. For a while it sounded busy downstairs, so we did our ablutions quickly to get out the way. As it was, we’re the only ones here. There is another couple somewhere, but they’re in a different part of the building. Logically, then, Dad and Alan decided to share ghost stories…!

Talking of unwanted guests, Alan brought along ‘Travel Hare’ to mess up the 2019 Cycle tour for Travel Bunny.
I decided that Pube was an appropriate name for an unwanted hare…

Dad and Alan both decided they weren’t hungry and were talking about soup. I was hungry and decided to play it by ear.

As it turned out, we ended up at the patisserie and found a takeaway next door. The others got chips from the takeaway. I got a Croque Monsieur from the patisserie and a sandwich of some sort. Dad had a Croque, too, and a couple of pastries. Alan and I then had a massive slice of custard tart each.

While this sounds like a lot, I’m still hungry as I write this.

In which note, I don’t think I’m losing weight. I might even be putting some on! Alan’s tempting ways aren’t helping with this, he always buys nice things. I’m also not burning anywhere near as many calories as you’d expect. I only did 2,500 today, because my average heart rate for the ride was 95. I’m not working hard enough. [If this isn’t foreshadowing for the weight gain I talked about in my post summarising my 2019 diet and weight loss, I don’t know what is!]

Well, this has taken 45 minutes to write. The others have been asleep for hours. Alan leaves tomorrow, which is going to be weird; just dad and me and half the 2019 Cycle tour to go.

I’ve spent most of the trip, so far, on my own; leaving dad to talk to the other two.

Hopefully I’ll be able to settle back into the routine of just cycling with dad. Instead of leading a train of, ‘The Others’.

Wednesday 11th

Day 7 of 2019 Cycle Tour
Strava activity report for the day

Alan left us today. It’s a tough break. Having the twins here made me realise how limited my company is. Dad and the boys would chatter away for hours. I, on the other hand, went hours without really speaking, just pulling on the front and watching the world go by. Now it’s just dad and me, I think dad is going to miss the conversation.

And the continuation of the 2019 Cycle tour as a dynamic duo, didn’t get off to the best start. We needed to catch a ferry across the Gironde Estury. The ferry port was at Lamarque, which was only six miles away. But Maps was making the journey there overly confusing; it kept trying to take us down farm tracks. In the end we just followed the signs on the main road, and arrived just before 1000.

To find the previous ferry had left at 0930 and the next would leave at 1100. Neither of us thought to check the ferry times; or we would have caught the 0930 ferry. As it was, we were stranded for an hour. And, even though the crossing only took 20 minutes, we were a long way behind on the day, compared to the last three days.

The route from Blaye started off perfectly. Along a designated cycle track for nearly 10 miles. Then it all went tits up. The road signs seemed to want to go to a Port but Maps kept us more in land. We followed Maps until it tried to take us down another farm track, at which point we struck out on our own… and ended up back on the route to the Port.

At around 1240 we came across a bakery and dad stopped off for a Coke and a slice of custard tart. But they didn’t have diet coke and I want to avoid cakes and things, now Alan’s gone. So I left dad to his goodies and wandered further into the village. I found a corner store and bought a couple of mystery baguettes for lunch.

Alan’s 2019 Cycle tour draws to a close.

We then pushed on, with the plan to stop when there was about two and a half hours to go. This ended up being at the Port place, that we’d being trying to avoid. The baguettes turned out to be Tuna, which dad doesn’t eat. He had a cereal bar and said he’d eat out that night to compensate.

At least we saw a couple of kingfishers while we were off the cycle route.

The route from the Port was along a coastal path. It was sandy and a bit bumpy but it was also right into the teeth of the wind, which had got up yet again.

I stayed on the front to shelter dad from the wind, but we were still down in my third gear. Which is where we’d been for the first couple of days. It was hard going.

Eventually we accepted that we needed to look for roads that headed inland and out of the wind. So, once again, I told Maps we were a car, in an effort to avoid stupid tracks. This eventually did take us inland a bit, but onto a series of rolling hills. And the wind hadn’t gone anywhere!

And it really did seem awfully hilly, with a disproportionate amount being on an incline. At least we saw a crane, a heron, a white heron and some egrets, before we hit the hills.

It was a very hard ride. The hills and wind made for a tough day. The lack of scenery made for a boring ride. A lot of it just looked like the Somerset Levels

Where we’d done all of our training rides…

We didn’t get a final drinks stop because we couldn’t see a cafe on our way through the last town. This left me with a bit of hunger knock during the last 45 minutes, but I cycled through it.

One of the Storks we saw. For some reason, dad really likes these things…!

The digs are a chambre d’hotes. Our room had a small double bed… Dad took another room, for another €50! Other than that there’s nothing remarkable about the place. Except that the owner is an artist, so there’s a sort of art studio attached…

It’s where we kept the bikes for the night.

The town seems pretty shut up for a Wednesday. The first two restaurants were closed. The next was a takeaway pizza place. We ordered there and sat on the bench opposite to eat it. There was a half an hour wait for the food, enough gave us time to phone our respective homes. The food was actually pretty tasty.

Then back to the digs and our own rooms. I’ve used the solitude to watch YouTube videos. Unfortunately, I also stuffed down all of the sweets Alan left with me. This, despite my wishes to be good for the second week. I genuinely think I’m going to put on weight during this trip.

One thing we did work out, was how to plan the coming days. So far, all I’ve been doing is put the start and end points in Maps and hoping it’ll choose the route we would want it to. And then getting annoyed when it doesn’t.

Going forward, I’ll put in as many stops along the route as needed, to make it go the way we want. This is especially important tomorrow because we need to cross a big river and we want to avoid a nightmare bridge in doing so. We also want to stop to launder our clothes along the way…

For the first few days, it didn’t matter that I was only putting start and end points, because there was a canal or railway to follow. Now that it’s mainly roads, we need to be more detailed. Fortunately, dad has his paper maps, so we can use them to work out our preferred route, and programme that into Maps.

It should be a shorter day tomorrow…

Thursday 12th

Day 8, Part 1 of 2019 Cycle Tour
Strava activity report for the day

Breakfast today was as 0830, the normal time. Dad was tired, this morning. He said that he’d spent half the night worrying about some problems Julie was facing with the house move. It seems that since our last move, a whole industry of frivolous indemnity policies has grown up. We were getting asked to indemnify utterly ridiculous things, for both houses, because one of the various lawyers had dreamed up a problem. This latest one was about the roads running through our old estate.

The scenario in question is, “What if both of the developers go bust and the local authority refuses to take possession of the roads?”

The correct answer, as it turns out, isn’t, “Dude, what have you been smoking?!”

No, the only available answer is an indemnity policy. What a scam!

Julie did an amazing job in dealing with all this while I was pedaling through my 2019 Cycle tour. Mainly because she didn’t kill anyone. And, by ‘anyone’, I mean me; for not being there to help with all this.

But, back to breakfast, which was fine. I had a good pot of hot chocolate, having accepted that calorie counting was a forlorn effort. I just hoped that all the exercise would be enough to balance the equation, like it had been in previous years. There was bread and a croissant and Madame sat with us and chatted. Dad and I both came to the conclusion that she’s quite lonely. Very nice, though.

We started the ride in completely overcast conditions. I had my clear lenses in. We mainly stuck to main roads and made good time. We’d done about 15 miles when we stopped for a Coke and I had my chat with Julie.

From there, it seemed to take very little time to close down the destination of the first half of the ride; a laundromat…

When we were about 7 minutes out, I changed into my longs, so I could wash everything that I wasn’t wearing. Then it was a rather warm cycle in.

Maybe the most stylish I looked throughout the entire 2019 Cycle tour…

Thankfully, the laundromat was open. Even better, there was another customer in there who helped explain how the machines worked. The wash was €7 and the dry €3.

We unloaded all the bikes and got the wash on. It had a run time of 27 minutes. Once it was on, dad had an explore and found a restaurant, behind the laundromat on the river front. So, while the wash was still going, we loaded the bikes, went to the restaurant and ordered omelette and chips.

I then went back and moved the washing to the dryer and stuck it on for 30 minutes. Then it was back to the restaurant to eat the meal. I checked the progress about half way through and reduced the heat from high to low.

We finished up the meal and cycled back over to the laundromat. I sorted and folded the clothes and we took turns with dad’s wazar to get changed, loaded up and headed out.

I stopped my watch for the washing process. Incredibly, I actually remembered to restart it as we left.

Day 8, Part 2 of 2019 Cycle Tour
Strava activity report for the day

By the time we were ready to go, the Sun was properly out, so I had to put sun cream on… for half a day! Not a fan. I hate wearing sun cream because I hate feeling sticky. It’s a thing!

The heat of the day made the second half seem much harder. We’re still made good time but the wind was up a bit, which slowed us down. There were also some very long uphill drags.

We stopped at a supermarket with an hour to go. Dad went in to get some tea and cereal. He got some other bits, too. The one thing he didn’t think of was our cola drinks. So, for the second day in a row, we went without our afternoon drinks.

With 30 minutes to go, Maps tried to take us down a crappy road. As we were turning around, a guy was getting in his car. He started taking to dad about where we’d been and what we were doing. He must’ve been impressed because he took our water bottles into his house and filled them with cold water. Very refreshing.

We thanked him and bade him farewell and churned out the last 30 minutes. Often the hardest 30 minutes…

The digs were another chambre d’hotes. It was another double bed…

Madame was nice and friendly, though. She gave us a bottle of cold water and offered to wash our clothes. Dad seemed keen on the idea. Me less so. For two reasons. Firstly, they’d just been washed. Secondly, when we did this on the last trip, we were given back a load of wet clothes with no time to dry them before we set off the next day. I’d seen she had a tumble dryer and agreed to the wash if she was going to dry them too. Dad sorted it out and said she’d dry them.

She didn’t dry them, she just made a bit of room on her clothes line, as the sun dipped below the horizon.

Bollocks!

I got out my clothes line and pegs and hung them as best I could to dry as quickly as they could, then we went to the local takeaway to get some food. There was only the one place in town.

I think one of the defining features of the 2019 Cycle tour was the lack of healthy places to eat.
I’ve never eaten so many burgers and pizzas in a two-week period.

But it did burgers, to break up all the pizzas I’ve been having. I had the Terminator burger: 2 patties and a fried egg. With chips. It was actually pretty good. While we were waiting, a cat came over for some strokes, which was nice. I’ve missed my cats.

By the time we got back, the clothes were starting to feel dryer. The forecast is good, so we’ve left it all out overnight.

We have neighbours in our digs, which is the end of a row of units. Each unit consisting of a bedroom and a bathroom. The couple in the unit next door seem unnecessarily loud. They’re French…!

Dad’s already asleep; it’s 10pm. I feel like it’s going to be a long night.

Friday 13th

Day 9 of 2019 Cycle Tour
Strava activity report for the day

I’m starting this entry at the end of the day’s cycling, when dad celebrated Friday 13th by tripping over a rope and hurting his back. This was down by the beach, about 15 minutes away from the digs…

I pulled us over to try and get some photos of the waves crashing into the rocks and throwing spray into the setting sun. A low rope separated the walking paths from the cycle paths. There was a bit of dead ground in between the two paths, so I lifted my bike into that. When dad was doing likewise, the rope caught his heel and dumped him on his arse. His right foot actually got caught where the rope joined a post, which pulled his shoe off as he fell. Luckily it was sandy soil and there were no rocks or stones!

By the time we got to the digs, dad’s back had started to seize up. I’m worried that his back might go into spasm. We’ve got ibuprofen and paracetamol and he’s done some stretches. All we can do is hope he can ride comfortably tomorrow.

Now, back to the beginning of the day…

The day started really well. Certainly in terms of the breakfast, which dad thinks is the best we’ve had. I judge how good a breakfast is by the quantity involved, meaning the first one we had was the best. This one was certainly the fanciest…

From the point of view of the laundry, the day didn’t start well at all. Some of it was only damp, but my socks and pants were definitely wet. 10 minutes in the tumbler dryer is all it would’ve taken! As it was, I packed the wet stuff up in zip lock bags, in the hope I’d be able to dry them in the next digs.

My yellow outfit, for the 2019 Cycle tour

The ride today wasn’t too bad. Around 58 miles and we did most of it on D roads. We did venture on to the tracks through the woods for a while, but that was mainly to find somewhere to have our picnic. At the first opportunity after we’d eaten, dad agreed to go back on the road. For the last hour we did leave the roads, and went back onto the Velodyssey. And that was so dad could show me how scenic the coastal approach to Les Sables d’Olonne is. It is, too.

In terms of the road cycling, by and large, you’re much safer in France than in England. You still get your idiots, but the laws are different. In France, if someone overtakes on a blind bit of road, they’re more likely to force the oncoming car to swerve than to force us to swerve. The rule in France is that if a car hits a cyclist, the driver is automatically at fault, unless they can prove otherwise. As such, it feels much safer than in Britain, where it seems that half of the drivers would happily see you dead.

By the time we stopped for our morning drink, we’d already done 16 miles. We had a few side-tail winds today. God, that was nice; it made the cycling so much easier; hence the good times.

By the time we stopped at the supermarket, we’d done 30 miles. After we found a bench to have our picnic lunch, we only had about 90 minutes to go, and it was only 1430 hrs. Tail winds are so preferable to head winds.

It was bloody hot though! I had to reapply sun cream to the area above my knees because I could feel them burning. Even though we only had about an hour to go…

And, an hour later, we arrived at the digs. Having locked our bikes down the side alley the receptionist guided us to, we found we’d got lucky, regarding the wet laundry.

Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t a tumble dryer; these current digs aren’t that type of place. It’s a 2 star hotel, and we’re in a double room with a Queen size bed, which isn’t really big enough. There’s no kettle or hair dryer. Two of the lights don’t work. The en-suite is tiny (although the shower was better than expected). The toilet is a macerator type. Basically, it’s a 2 star room!

But what it does have, is a door to the outside! It’s where the fire escape goes. So I strung the washing line between the fire escape and the wall and put the clothes out for a couple of hours. The pants are still damp, but everything else is bearable.

Dad overlooking the waves, which absolutely refused to spray on command.

With the laundry on the line, we showered and changed. Dad had some cereal so he could take some ibuprofen. Then we went out to find me somewhere to eat. Nothing! Most of the restaurants are shut. The few places that are open don’t serve food. There was, of course, the inevitable take away pizza place, just around the corner…

In the end, we came back to the cafe attached to the hotel. It seemed to be some sort of gambling place, but it also offered sandwiches. We ordered two; one for me and the other for me. The owner took a baguette off to the kitchen. 5 minutes later, he came back. He’d cut it in half and filled it with ham and cheese. Basically, I ate a whole baguette!

And it isn’t enough, I still feel hungry now. I actually had a bit of hunger knock again, today, after we stopped for our morning drink. Dad had a couple of almond pastries from yesterday, so we ate one of those each.

With that in mind, dad also bought a couple of pain au raisins to have with our afternoon drink. The drinks, in question, were litre bottles of Cola that dad got from the supermarket. We had half a bottle each with lunch, and finished them at the afternoon stop. Dad got himself Pepsi Max: my favourite. He got me an odd type of Coke Cola, the one without sugar or caffeine…

Quite why he did that is anyone’s guess. I like the caffeine; I need the caffeine: it’s a stimulant. And, as my drinks don’t have sugar, the only thing that makes them worth drinking is the caffeine… it sure ain’t the taste!

After dinner I went for a walk to call Julie. I like to stretch my legs when I’m on the phone, plus it allows some privacy. Anyway, I ended up wandering past the pizza place. I noticed it did Hagen Das ice cream. So I got a small tube, and a can of cola and some cold water for dad. It was nice to get something cold inside me, because this room is sodding hot…!

Saturday 14th

Day 10 of 2019 Cycle Tour
Strava activity report for the day

A shorter day today; only 42 miles. Unfortunately, that was countered by the fact that we couldn’t get in the digs until 1700hrs… we had some time to kill!

The day started promisingly with a good sized breakfast, at which point I went into Medic mode, and started getting painkillers down dad’s neck. Ibuprofen at 0800, 1200, 1600 and 2000. Paracetamol at 1000, 1400, 1800 and 2200. This has kept him moving nicely during the day and he’s gone to bed, pain free.

We’ll have a better idea where we stand tomorrow morning. Dad didn’t sleep well, last night. For him to turn over was slow, cumbersome and painful. I know about the first two elements because all the associated struggling kept waking me up.

I’ve been having very weird dreams on this trip… All the disturbed sleep means that I’m remembering some of them. Very weird indeed!

Despite a slower start and, generally, lower gears, to look after dad’s back, we made good progress. We even had time to stop into a bike shop and buy a mirror for my bike. Dad’s got mine, because he prefers to see what’s coming, when we’re on the roads.

We stopped at a corner shop and dad bought a couple of bottles of Coke. Then we sat over the road and studied maps, while sipping the drinks, by way of a morning stop.

We were looking for a supermarket for lunch, without the need to go into Challans. I found one in Soullans, by asking Maps to find a supermarket along the route. We weren’t sure it’d be big enough to get the lunch we wanted but thought we’d try anyway; we could always head into Challans, if it was no good. Being a Saturday, most supermarkets are either shut or only open in the morning.

This is why we’ve already programmed a supermarket into tomorrow’s journey, because Sundays are even worse.

Anyway, the supermarket was fine, and dad got a good lunch. He bought a sliced loaf, for the sake of variety. It made a really nice change. There was also pate, Camembert and fruit. Much like yesterday, except the cheese was Brie yesterday.

Around lunch, we decided to go with the plan mum had suggested last night, by email; to get the Tuesday ferry home, instead of the Wednesday one. After all, we’d be in Roscoff on Tuesday morning, so there seemed little point just waving the ferry goodbye and then catching the one the following day. The original reason for this arrangement was to allow flexibility, in case we hit a problem. But we were sufficiently close to the end, now, that such concerns seemed redundant.

So the Tuesday ferry, it was.

After lunch, we didn’t get very far before we stopped by a church. In Sallertaine. We really did have time to kill.

It was there that I saw my first baguette vending machine! I’ve seen another one in Bouin, since. They’re clearly the latest thing. So I got a baguette at the first one, for €1, it’s been attached to my pannier rack bag ever since. I’ve got no idea what to do with it.

Travel Bunny guarding the baguette I got from the vending machine.

We finished the journey into Bouin in slow time. The approach is another area of marshland. There was a lot of road kill in the last few miles. It was all Coypu – overgrown rats. They’re everywhere around here. One even splashed under the water as I went past; scared the crap out of me!

The room has twin beds, which is good. But it shares a bathroom with two or three other rooms, which is not. The toilet and shower are in the same room, making things worse. Still, we got here first, so we monopolised the bathroom until we were both done and then looked to sort out food.

This was more complicated than expected, because the whole town is heaving. The digs are fully booked, I watched Madame turn a couple away as I waited to discuss restaurants. She said she’d book one for us, and that we needed to do that quickly because Bouin was so busy.

Her first recommendation was already full. The next one had space, although, by the time I got to my main course, the place was rammed.

It was a fine dining place. I chose the €32 set menu, which was the cheapest option. It was a ‘taster’ menu, which meant it came with a couple of fiddly extras. There was, however, a choice of 4 options for each of the three courses. It was very tasty but not hugely filling. It cost €36, including my drink. Dad nibbled on the bread and butters, which sorted him out.

The best dessert of the 2019 Cycle tour

Then it was back to the digs and a last round of ablutions, before bed. Dad is snoring away, as I write, so hopefully he’ll wake tomorrow feeling more rested.

We did discuss future trips, through the day. I suggested that I might only have one more, because the girls would be starting to go to Uni next year. And Julie wouldn’t want to be left on her own for 2 weeks at a time. There is the possibility I could come out for a week with one of the twins doing the other week…

Only time will tell.

More complicated is whether dad is going to get himself an electric bike. If we’re only coming out one more time, is there any point?

Many discussions to be had…!

Sunday 15th

Day 11 of 2019 Cycle Tour
Strava activity report for the day

Just while I remember, my left Achilles tendon has been playing up the last couple of days. It’s like what Alan had for a couple of days. Karen said it was probably tendinitis. Thankfully, mine didn’t flare up like Alan’s did.

In terms of other aches and pains, for me it’s been much better than it could’ve been…

My hands have been keeping more and more tingly as the days have passed, but I haven’t experienced the night time numbness that dad and and the twins had. I got the briefest bit of pins and needles in my crotch, right at the start of today, but that’s all I’ve had. I do have some minor saddle sores, but nothing like I had on the Way of St James. My knees, in particular my left, have had twinges on most days but this has mainly just led to discomfort in sleeping. Overall, though, I think I’ve been very fortunate.

When the alarm went off, there was someone else in the bathroom. But they were gone by the time we wanted to use it, so having a shared bathroom was never really an issue. Breakfast was good and plentiful. The strawberry jam was lovely.

Cycling out, we stopped to take some photos of me in my red outfit. We chucked the vending machine baguette out for the birds to eat!

My red ensemble, for the 2019 Cycle tour.

There was a lot of shooting going on today, because the Chasse was out. Hunting ducks, dad thought. We didn’t get shot…

Our first stop was the Netto supermarket in Machecoul. Dad wasn’t impressed by what was on offer, but there was nothing else open and beggars can’t be choosers. Besides, I thought he put together a perfectly fine lunch. Much the same as the last couple of days.

Because we only had 35 miles to go, we stopped quite often. For a drink. For lunch. To rest hands and butts…

It was damn hot, though. 30°C in Nantes, by the time we arrived.

The roads into Nantes had good cycle paths. In fact all the roads were nice and quiet today, as they often are on a Sunday.

We got to the train station at about 1430hrs. It took dad more than 30 minutes to sort out the journey for tomorrow. Some trains won’t take bikes. In the end, he booked the 1350 to Rennes. There will be a pretty hefty wait for the next train to Morlaix, but better that than trying to make a connection in just 10 minutes, which was one of the other options. It means we won’t get to the digs before 1830 but that’s fine. We already know where we’re going to eat…

The ride to the digs was short enough that I’ve decided to wear my normal clothes for the journey back tomorrow. We get kicked out of the digs by 1100 but we have enough leftover food to make our breakfast here. Which is considerably better than the €8 each they’re asking for the breakfast they provide.

The receptionist, Fanny, was really helpful. I mentioned that we were going to go back to the laundromat that I spotted on the way in. She pointed out that they had one here. For €7 I could wash, dry and have the detergent. So we went for that. It got pretty complicated, in the end, because only one socket worked, meaning the dryer had to be run after the washer, and someone else’s clothes were already going through. But we got there in the end, and everything is clean.

Heading into Nantes.

I’m really hungry! I think I’m going to have my emergency cereal bars…

There were two left. Still hungry!

Anyway. We went to Best Burgers, around the corner, and that really was very good. It was a Halal burger joint. The meals were served on trays on paper. I noticed, after I finished, that there was virtually no grease left on the paper. Very impressive. Dad had a Veggie Kebab type thing. We made them into meals, by adding drinks and chips. Then we had a small tub of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream each. Came to €18.

A complete contrast to yesterday’s meal. Both nice in their own ways, though.

After that it was phone calls and bed. Although it was too hot to sleep immediately. Even dad couldn’t get to sleep until after 2200. We couldn’t open the window until quite late on, because the temperature outside was just as hot as in here.

It’s better now.

But it’s noisy out there. Nantes is a big city and we’re very close to the river. Which has a dual carriageway and two tram lines running along it. This also seems to be a less affluent part of town, meaning there are a lot of drunkards around.

Not that the noise matters, I’ll have ear plugs in when I settle down to sleep.

I’ve set the alarm for 0900, seeing as we don’t have to leave until 1100, and we’ve got nothing to do until the train goes at 1350. I’m not sure that dad will make it to 0900, though…

Monday 16th

Day 12 of 2019 Cycle Tour
Strava activity report for the day

Despite the alarm being set for 0900, I awoke at 0744, one minute before the alarm would normally have gone off. Dad, however, was able to sleep on for a while.

At about 0830, we started getting ourselves sorted. We made our breakfast. The 6 remaining brioche rolls (I’d eaten 2 the night before) were cut, buttered and filled with slices of Emental cheese.

The remaining 6 slices of bread were buttered and filled with: pate; pate and tomato, and; pate and cheese. I ate the former and one of the latter. Dad ate the other of the latter and packed the middle two for him to eat later. In actuality, they were offered to the ducks in the park… I say, ‘offered’ because the ducks turned their beaks up at them. As they might; unless they’re cannibals!

We left the digs at a little after 1030 and made our way to the Orangerie Cafe, which was at one end of a park, the other end of which, I reasoned, had to open out onto the railway station. I thought going through the park would be more interesting.

As it turned out, the route to the park was the most interesting bit; we ended up going past loads of sites, including what looked like, ‘Napoleon’s Column’! I’ll have to do some research on that… [Turns out that it was dedicated to Louis XVI]

We slowly cycled through the park, fairly sure, judging by the lack of other bikes, that we shouldn’t be, but unable to see any signs telling us as much. We did see the appropriate sign as we headed back in. Indeed: no cycling in the park!

We touched base at the railway station and got the lie of the land. Dad also got a couple of pain au raisins from the shop called Paul, because it amused him.

Then we went back into the park to kill the two and a half hours until the TV screens displayed the platform from which our train would be departing. And a very fine park it was too. Lots of water features with artistic installations. Loads of water fowl. Lots of people. And nice and sunny.

The park had some pretty ornate features, which were appreciated by Travel Bunny.

When the time came, 20 minutes before departure, we made our way to the station and watched the screen. 20 minutes came and went, no platform number. 10 minutes came and went and still nothing; nerves started getting frayed. I took the opportunity to take the tickets to the composter(?) and get them validated – basically a date/time group, printed on the end of the ticket.

Then the platform was announced, and the rush was on. There was no dedicated ramp up to the platform, just a metal rail, to one side, to push the bikes up. Someone gave dad a hand with his, which was good of them.

A conductor pointed us to the far end of the train, were a door had a bike sign on it. Another conductor showed us where to go. Just inside the door was an alcove in which we could lean the bikes. It meant we needed to take all the panniers off, but there was a shelf, above, to secure them. The conductor said to use the straps to hold the bikes in place, which we did, then we took some seats that allowed us to keep an eye on our kit.

The journey was direct to Rennes and took a little over an hour. It was very smooth and very easy. The train seemed virtually empty.

The train terminated at Rennes, meaning we were in no rush to get the bikes off. We got them out and replaced the panniers and made our way into the city.

Of the very little I saw of it, Rennes looked pretty. All we did, though, was get some lunch. Dad spotted a Creperie, that did Galettes, and that was us. We each had a Galette Complet, for main, and a Crepe for dessert. I had an almond paste version that was yummy.

We dawdled so long over lunch that it was time to head back to the station.

Again there was a delay on announcing our platform, but we made it there with plenty of time. It turned out not to be a big train, and there were two other cyclists waiting to get on. They, though, were at the other end of the platform. I thought we probably ought to join that crowd, as they probably knew where to stand. Dad, though, was happy to stay where we were.

Turned out that dad was right. The train stopped by us, and everyone at the other end had just been standing in the shade. The other cyclists joined us at our door, which meant there ended up being four bikes for three hanging spaces.

The other cyclists had leaned their bikes up in the hanging spaces, taking them out of use. One of them then asked if I intended to hang ours, which I did…

Fortunately, the other two moved theirs further down the carriage and leant them against the wall, blocking the access to the disabled toilet. They then helped us hang our bikes.

It really is a simple but effective solution.

They seemed a nice couple and dad chatted to them for a while in his French. Theirs were electric bikes, meaning they were too big (and heavy) to hang.

The journey was 100 minutes and passed reasonably well. The strangest thing was the change in the weather, over the course of the journey. We left Rennes in blazing sunshine, and 31°C. Morlaix, however, was completely overcast and intermittently spitting with drizzle.

One good thing, though, was that the station was at the top of The Hill, meaning we didn’t have to cycle up the damn thing. In fact it was only a 10 minute cycle to the digs. And the same place we stayed two years ago.

This time, however, we got a room on the ground floor. And we were allowed to put our bikes in what looked like a function room, instead of the boiler room.

We showered and headed out to the Buffalo Grill, where we’d eaten last time we stayed here. It was a perfectly fine burger place. Dad joined me for a burger. He even joined me for an ice cream sundae dessert…

Then it was back to the digs to tuck down for the night.

Tuesday 17th

Day 13 of 2019 Cycle Tour
Strava activity report for the day

we started the day at 0745, even though it’s only a 90 minute ride to the ferry port and we don’t have to be there until 1300 hrs. Better to get there early, and kill time, than not allow enough time to deal with an emergency. Or even a puncture. We started with breakfast, Dad having booked it the night before. There was a wide and ample array, meaning we both ate plenty. There were also a large number of flies, which was irritating. But also in keeping with the cockroach that was running around the bedroom walls all night…

As we finished breakfast, we could see people starting to get twitchy. I headed in to unlock the bikes to discover that the room was, indeed, a function room. In fact, a Weight Watchers group was busily setting it up for an event that started at 1000. It was barely 0900… They were fine…!

So we packed up, in our wet weather gear, and departed. In reality, it wasn’t wet enough to put all the rain gear on. And it certainly wasn’t cold enough. There was some drizzle in the air, but the real reason was, that I wanted some photos of me dressed like that.

Which is why, when I got to the top of the first big hill, I set dad up with my camera, and went back down, a ways. I got the photos I wanted and packed away my wet weather gear.

Me in my wet weather configuration for the 2019 Cycle tour.

We made the journey in slow time. Stopping for photos, as and when. We also stopped at the main supermarket along the route, so dad could get some Cassis for his neighbour. I then went in to get some goodies for Julie and the girls.

We even stopped at one of the wine sellers, so I could get a couple of bottles of red for upcoming meals.

Then we got to the ferry port…

And cycled straight past and into Roscoff. We went down to the bottom and had a hot chocolate and a sit for half an hour.

Then we went to the ferry port. It’s good being on bikes, because you get ushered through quickly and easily. We were allowed on, close to first, and put out bikes where instructed.

Then we went to our cabin. I was expecting an internal room with a bunk bed arrangement. But not this time. What we actually had was an external cabin with wheelchair access…

This meant two single beds and room to manoeuvre a wheelchair. Which is to say: ample space. Likewise in the en-suite.

And, because we were on early, we had our showers before the ferry cast off. I’d decided to bring on my panniers, so I could get changed into my normal clothes. So I did that. Then we went up on deck to see if there would be any dolphins on the way out, like last time. But, in the hour we’d been on board, the wind had really picked up. So, although we looked for 15 minutes, we didn’t see anything.

After that, we went down for a meal. Dad got the food with his 10% discount card. It wasn’t bad, for a cafeteria type meal, but nothing to write home about.

Then it was back to the room. And dad has tucked down and gone to sleep, while I’m writing this.

Dad and me admiring one last view of the 2019 Cycle tour

It’s currently 1600 hours, by my watch, meaning it’s 1500 hours ship time. UK time. Meaning I now have 4 hours to kill before we dock.

I’ve taken a sea sickness tablet, because the sea’s a bit choppy, and it might help me sleep… Only time will tell.

It didn’t!

So I read for a bit and then it was time to disembark. We shuffled our way through the crowds, to get back to our bikes. All the other cyclists were already there, and fighting with their panniers. We valiantly joined the battle and, eventually, victory went to the cyclists.

Then it was off to passport control and the little joy that is the dedicated booth for the cyclists. From there, the short loop round to the car park, to find Simon and the car journey home.

Except, there was no Simon!

Simon had got clogged up in traffic and was running half an hour behind. Ah well, it was a pleasant evening.

When Simon arrived, we hugged it out and loaded up the bikes. And, after a brief stop at Sainsbury’s for provisions, an easy drive home, full of tales of the adventures he missed.

Oh, and the seeds of the plans for next year’s tour.