Cycling today was not so bad. The first 10 miles were along canals and very flat. I made it to Therouanne (planned 2nd night stop) by 4pm, and thought I’d call it a day and find a campsite. Officially 1 day behind!
Today the cycling was very tough, I only just made Dover, and got on the 3:30pm ferry to Calais. Getting off, a coach tour guide asked where I was going, and I said around the world. When the coach passed me, all the passengers were waving frantically!
I couldn’t bare cycling past calais, so stopped at the campsite there. As I was finishing up cooking, the sky went black, and a huge thunderstorm came in. Really loud thunder, and loads of flashes of lightning. Turns out my tent has a slight leak – but it was in the direction of the wind, with torrential rain for 3 hours, so I’m not too worried about it.
Click here to view the map and stats.
It’s been a while since my last post, but my computer and internet have been fixed twice since then!
The plan for France is to generally follow Anne Mustoe’s route, but with a few changes.
Anne went in to Boulogne, and I originally planned to do the same, but the ferries that go in to Boulogne only take cars, not passengers or bikes or motorbikes or lorries or anything else, just cars. The only other choice of ferry leaving from the Dover area goes to Calais, so that has to be where I’ll take the ferry in to. Anne doesn’t detail her exact route, but from reading and re-reading I’ve managed to work out her approximate itinerary. So from Calais I plan to take ten or eleven days crossing France to Switzerland, going via Arras, St Quentin, Reims, Vitry-le-Francois, St-Dizier, Chaumont, Champlite, Besancon and Pontarlier, with those being the approximate places where I’ll spend the night. There are various interesting sites in some of those places, for example the war cemeteries during the first few days travel, and then General/President de Gaul’s home village, and of course the atmosphere and life in the villages towns and cities being an attraction in itself.
Obviously I won’t be able to cycle 120km a day 7 days a week, so the average distance while crossing France will be a leisurely 70-80km a day, including rest days once a week, which I have scheduled usually for a Sunday, but sometimes a day or two before or after so I can stay somewhere interesting instead of being “stuck” in a tiny village with no services open for an entire Sunday.
From the last stop in France, Pontarlier, I’ll cycle over the Jura Mountains into Switzerland, and on to Lausanne. Downhill all the way after the pass, I’m hoping the 63km total for that day will be possible, as only about half is uphill. From Losanna (I’m on the Italian map and spellings now) the route takes me over the Great St Bernard pass, no small undertaking. From Losanna I’m hoping to be on the coll in three days, the first one being a long day around the flat roads along the shore of the lake, then growing shorter until I’ll have to cycle 28km from Champex to the top of the coll. However, since it is freewheeling all the way to Aosta and further, my distance for that day should total over 95km.
From here it’s the Italian leg, which will be detailed in the next post.
It’s all well and good dreaming of cycling over the harbour bridge in Sydney, but where will I start and how will I get there?
London, Sunday 27th July 2008, 8am, Trafalgar Square. I chose this date, time and place for a number of reasons. The first is that it’s a Sunday a year in the future. Sunday mornings are good for cycling in big cities because there are fewer cars on the road. The second is that Trafalgar Square, specifically the south east corner, is the point where any road sign in the UK that gives a distance to London is measured from. So from those I can leave on a nice quiet morning from “London”. From there I’ll cycle down Whitehall and go over Westminster Bridge, continuing to Elephant, then New Kent Road followed by Old Kent Road and through New Cross. Then I’ll follow the old Roman road out of London, along Shooters Hill and the length of Watling Street via Dartford, Rochester, Gillingham, Sittingbourne and Faversham, taking side roads where necessary to avoid the new dual carriage-way parts of the old Roman road, reaching Canterbury by the first night.
The next day I’ll either continue along the route of the Roman road to Dover trying to avoid the dual carriageway sections in the process, or take the national cycle route through the countryside near to the old road. From Dover I’ll catch an afternoon ferry to Calais before cycling as far inland into France as possible before the second night.
Plan for France to follow…