Monday, 31 August 2015

Packing for our ACE ride. Saturday 18th July 2015

@suukii and I are packing ready to catch Ferry to Santander.

This is everything I need to get into my two panniers - everything we need for cycling and living in hotels for three weeks as we ride back from Spain through France to Caen/Ouistreham to catch ferry home. 

We have done a few practice runs staying in pubs overnight over recent weekends. And our packing list from #LEJOG in 2012 was still pretty good - although we are taking less winter clothes for a mid summer ride through France.

Ready to go!

We are intending that this trip  will be a little more sedate than the LEJOG, and hopefully the weather will be a little better! We intend to travel around 80km/50 miles each day, and we are choosing quiet cycle routes rather than more direct but busier roads.  We are staying in pre-booked hotels each night, and have scheduled 4 rest days on the three week trip (actually 19 days). Given that we will be traveling in some popular holiday areas during August, we pre-booked all the hotels for the whole route in April.

Here's my packing list for this trip

Hugh Clothes
1 pr Sandals with cleats
1 pr deck Shoes 
5 pairs pants/ Padded pants
3 pairs socks - wicking/merino
2 pairs shorts
2 smartish trousers
2 smart linen shirts 
1 merino jersey
2 short sleeved merino T-shirts 
1 long sleeved merino shirts
1 polo
swimming trunks
Swimming hat
Web Belt
Silk dressing gown

Waterproof top
Waterproof trousers
White Reflective jacket
Cycling Gloves

Inner tube
Blow-up cylinder (Get you home instant tyre inflation)
Tyre Repair kit
Gaffer Tape
Cable Ties
D-lock and cable
Chain repair link
and for this trip we had to take the following as we were require dto pack our bikes for the coach trip from Santander to Irun.
Bike Bag (we bought 2 new mattress bags - but the CTC bike bag would have done as well)
Parcel tape 
Pedal removing tool

iPad and lead
iPhone and charger lead
Technet 10,000 mAmp-hr Batteries (keeps a handlebar mounted iPhone going all day with no trouble)
USB plug and converters
Lightweight extension lead

Water bottles
Lightweight mugs 
Bamboo Spork 
Water Boiling Element (French hotels do not usually give you tea or coffee making kit)
Lightweight rucksack
Plastic bags
Wallet including euros and our French Carte Blue
Shower bag and shampoos
Wet Wipes
Small First aid kit (Elastic bandage, Melomine, antiseptic)
Deep Heat or equiv.
Sun Cream
Nose cream (50 SPF)
Talcum powder
Mosquito repellent
Clothes Hand Washing liquid
Penknives Swiss  army
Camping towel
Washing line
Sewing kit
Tea Bags and coffee sachets
Body glide
Zeros (Electrolyte sports drink tablets - 3 per person per day)
It looks quite a lot, but it all packs up nicely in Eagle Creek Pack-Lite bags and fits easily into my two 20L Ortleib bags, and comes in at around 12kg.  Its certainly not a minimal set-up, but it does mean we have all we need to keep the bikes on the road, the technology working and to be presentable at hotel restaurants in the evenings!

Getting to Spain: Sunday 19th July

Today we drive from Southampton to Plymouth to catch the 1545 ferry to Santander.  It's a shame we had to do this but it was impossible to get a pedestrian/cycle ticket in any of the ferries out of Portsmouth. It turned out to be more reliable to take a one-way rental than to get tickets on the train with no guarantee we would be allowed to take our bikes on, on a busy summer weekend.

Here's our bikes in the van

And here we are getting on the ferry.
There was a nice community of cyclists heading to Spain.

And bye to UK!

We had an excellent meal in the restaurant this evening.

Monday, July 20th.Arriving in Spain and getting to the start of ourride.

After an excellent dinner on board the ferry we slept we slept well on our bunk beds, and we're up for a leisurely breakfast, giving us just enough time to pack before disembarkation at Santander. Lovely sunny summer day.
Su and other cyclists leaving ferry at Santander.

The next bit of the journey is by coach along the hilly north coast of Spain. We have booked on to the 1700, and have been told we need to pack our bikes. Checked our luggage into Left Luggage and time for a Pinchos lunch and a walk round town.

Here we are about to board our coach

And putting our bikes together at the other end!

We stayed the night in an AirBnB where Sandra, who spoke no English looked after us well using a voice driven translator program on her phone.  Three course meal, a bottle and a half of wine, two bottles of mineral water and coffees - €25.  

Tuesday 21st July. Irun - Hossegor

We Left Our BnB at 0930. Overcast and close day.

Rather bad picture of Su riding across the border into France.

The route today took us through St Jean du Luz, Biarritz ( for lunch), Bayonne, then into Cap Breton and onto Hosegor, where we are staying in the Relais du Lac hotel tonight - on the edge of the eponymous lac. 

It was thundery at lunchtime today and we got a bit wet - but it's still very warm.

Day 1 track
77.05 km
Average speed 16.86 km/ hr

The route from Irun to Biarritz was up and down quite a bit - down to sea level, up onto cliffs. Often the road was quite busy and there was no cycle path. Biarritz itself has all the signs of a city council that doesn't give a toss about cyclists. You could not have taken an inexperienced cyclist on this. Through Bayonne the route quickly became excellent dedicated cycle path, and after Bayonne the now level dedicated path went off on its own through the forest. In Capbretton and Hossegor there are proper two way cycle paths parallel to all main roads - could be Holland! The only issue here was the main shopping area where there was not enough pavement for the pedestrians so they all spilled over the cycle path.

Wednesday 22nd July. Hossegor to Mimizan

ILast night we had supper in a logis hotel in Hossegor. Excellent meal - I particularly enjoyed a main of Tagiatelle in a cream, tarragon and orange (Grand Marnier?) sauce with Fois Gras and Scallops. Brilliant! Local oysters were rather fine too!

On the bad side the hotel was not so good - very noisy road right outside our room. The window would keep the nice down but it was too hot and close (and no A/C) to close.  In the end there was a massive thunder storm and Su plated the hero and went out to put covers on the bike seats.

Left hotel at 1000 after leisurely breakfast - did not want to be too early in Mimizan as our hostest would not be back.

Today we have bicycled over 80km almost entirely on dedicated cycle tracks through the forest - keeping an average speed of 23km/hr most of the way. ( average for whole day 20km/ hr and 450m climbed - surprisingly as the slops were gentle)

It rained a little at the beginning and end of the day but it was mostly just a bit overcast and not too hot.

We had lunch at a place called Saint Girons Plage at the Restaurant de la Mar- and took a leisurely 2 hours over a three course menu. For €12.50 I got Bulots and langoustines, followed by sea bass with julienned vegetables and sea cucumber I think,, followed by Panna Cotta with red fruits coulis. Washed down with the house Rosė.  The ingredients were fantastically fresh, and it puts most Ènglish pubs to shame on both quality and price.

Tonight we are staying at an AirBnB on the outskirts of the town of Mimizan.

Very quite and has a swimming pool.

Today 87 km
Average speed 19.71 km/hr
Height climbed 450m
GPX of actual route

Thursday 23rd July ; Mimizan to Arcachon

We overslept this morning and only awoke in time to wish our hostess thanks as she went to work. We left at 1030!

Nearly all day today we were on dedicated cycle paths through the forest. Pleasing lunch at Bicarosse-Plage - this salad as started followed by salmon and Panna cotta. Pleasing trancy music in background.

On through the woods all day -this was our first day it did not rain all day and it was in the low 30's. Lovely smell of hot pines, and they provide much appreciated dappled shade.
New Forest council please note - THIS is what a forest cycle path looks like. The thousands of people we have passed are travelling through quietly and with minimal environmental impact and not disturbing your precious cars and lorries and coaches, but spending good money at cafės and hotels and campsites.

Tonight we arrived ar Arcachon - a humming seaside town famous for its giant dunes. Actually there is a parallel hill behind the dune which the road and cycle path go up - it was a dare ascent at the end of the day!
We were in the Yatt Hotel on the main beachside

- and our room had an enormous bath with which we were pleased after a hot day!

Supper tonight in an upmarket white table cloth restaurant on the beach
I had the shellfish platter
And I have rarely seen Su so excited as she was by her starter of coddled egg in truffled cream and smoked salmon.
We enjoyed Arcachon Plage - although we went quite early to bed the party went in all night in that happy way that the French (and UK festival goers) seem to do so much better than UK towns.

Today's track was 83 km at an average speed of 18.45 km/ hr, and ascent of 349 m

Friday 24th July . Arcachon to Lacanau Ocean

We made a 0930 departure just in time to catch the 1000 ferry from Arcachon centre to Cap le Ferret.

Today was another easy day rambling along through the forest, alongside lakes and the coast on dedicted cycle paths. Weather mixed. We could have pushed it and made it to Lacaneau for lunch but instead chose a beachside stop 10 km short.

Our hotel is the Vitalparc, a spa hotel,, just up the hill in the country behindthe town.  We have a rest day here. Spent the afternoon at the pool, and supper on the veranda.

Today's trip was 60km, at average speed of 19.4 km/hr and 327m ascent.

As we go into our first rest day we have cycled 307 km (192 miles) and ascended 1693m (5555ft)

At this stage a find myself reflecting on our first rest day on our #LEJoGgently trip in 2012. We were much more tired, rather dehydrated, in need of dry clothes and already fed-up with pub meals lunch and supper. And we had been scared silly by a lorry that nearly ran Su over trying to overtake her on a corner on the brow of a hill in Exeter. There had been no dedicated cycle paths and the roads out of Cornwall and Devon are mostly not fit places for bikes. Not to mention the constant hills!  I have enjoyed this trip much more so far!