Africa, Europe · 33 Days · 132 Moments · July 2017

Maroc to Brighton Rock

29 August 2017

Beautiful Poole Harbour home coming - can't believe I've not had the pleasure of seeing this before.
Brief lunch in Guernsey - Jason was straight into Boots - the allure of familiar brands!
Good bye charming Saint Malo! We made it 1700km cycling through Spain and France......both fantastic and beautiful counties. A few days rest in Bournemouth and then the final UK 150km home...fingers crossed the UK doesn't let us down after a month of no rain!

28 August 2017

Celebrating our arrival in St. Malo!
Beautiful locks and stuff along the Rance around Dinan
Brittany in the AM

27 August 2017

Our final day of cycling in France 78km from Saint Meen le Grand to Saint Malo bringing to the 1700km mark!..It was mostly beautiful especially a stunning stretch along the Rance to lunch at the ancient town of Dinan Le was not without its trials though.....including a hairy ride along a busy narrow bridge into Saint Malo which lead to Jason fixing his 5th puncture (making us even) on a lay by.....and just trying to circumvent a dual carriage way which lead to us dragging our bikes up a rugged trail path much to the dismay of many a rambler!
Penultimate day in France - 88km from Questembert to Saint Mene Le Grand. Most of the day was along a charming old railway track....but we seem to have booked ourselves into a hotel in the middle of nowhere and face a microwave dinner!
Emily telling me what's what.
Brittany in the AM

26 August 2017

St Brevin to Questembert 68km, mostly gentle but with a few hilly moments including charming Roch Bernard and Peaule.....and look at this beautiful 15th century lodging we've chosen to bed down in compete with Champagne style cider!

25 August 2017

Beauty enjoying a glass of rose on the beach at St. Brevin!
Day 28 - Les Barres des Monts to St Brevin - 56km Through more wetlands and a nice town called Pornic, then back to more arid beach side forest riding as we arrived in St Brevin.
Emily action shots
En route to St Brevin
Kiss selfie
Grey start to the day

24 August 2017

Jason found a home from home
Day 27 - Sables d'Olonne to Barres des Monts / Beauvoir sur Mer - 75km
En route to Beauvoir sur Mer

23 August 2017

Day 26 - La Rochelle to Les Sables d'Ollone - bout 110km
Arriving Sables d'Olonne
En route to Sables
Today was 75km from Les Sables d'olonne to Beauvoir Sur Mer. It felt a bit longer than 75km as last night we found a bar called Bronx that played great soft rock music and stayed out past our bed time!
Emily made friends with a mantis.
Grey day - La Rochelle to Les Sables d'Olonne

21 August 2017

Stuff I learnt about cycling holidays #10: Mouth breathing is a no-no. Aggressive insects. See #8b. Use your nose to avoid oral discomfort.
Day 24 - Royan to La Rochelle - 70km then train. Some days don't go as planned. We forgot to set an alarm, and slept in - clearly we needed it after the exertions of the last few days. But that got us off to a late start. By 4pm we'd ridden a paltry 45km and had lunch and had a long way to go to get to La Rochelle. Seems like it's my turn for equipment failures, as one of my pannier attachments snapped. We jerry-rigged it with bungees, but then shortly after that I fell out of my cleats again, bashing my leg and my bike badly. We decided to call it a day, so did a quick sprint to nearby Rochfort and got a short train to La Rochelle for what feels like an overdue rest day.
Tiny ferry over La Rive Charente to miss the big bridges and get us into Rochfort.
Royan to La Rochelle
Stuff I learnt about cycling holidays #9: Two words: Headwind.
Royan to La Rochelle

20 August 2017

Big wheel at Royan.
Day 23 - Lacanau to Royan - bout 85km Rested and refreshed after our stay at Vitalparc we had a beautiful run on Eurovelo 1 at its best along the coast through undulating forests. Finished up at the Fere across the river to Royan. I had another puncture just as we approached the ferry, fixed it and then the replacement promptly burst as I rolled onto the ferry. Putting that one down to fitting it badly in a rush. Replaced it again as we crossed the river, and then we had time to freshen up, do the big wheel, and go for a meal.
Ferry to Royan
Towards Royan
Eurovelo 1 - skinny part

19 August 2017

Day 22 - arcachon to Lacanau - 42km After yesterday's mammoth effort we'd planned in a short day today to recover our legs. It was still tough, but really remote, quiet, and gorgeous. The place we'd booked had a pool and jacuzzi, so we got to work out some of the aches!
Gorgeous, and nearly had it to ourselves this day
Starting the day at Arcachon with a busy ferry to Cap Ferret peninsula.
Stuff I learnt about cycling holidays #8b: When wearing said snazzy Lycra top, do NOT open up the front of it to achieve increased airflow when going down hill. Aggressive Iberian hornets may make their way in, and be trapped by the draft. Leaving them one option - stinging their way through your fucking chest to escape.
Stuff I learnt about cycling holidays #8a: You're going to want to ditch the regular t-shirts and get yourself one of those snazzy Lycra jobs. Sadly, when you go to a cycling shop to get one, the only thing close to fitting claims to be size 4XL, and yet appears to be designed to fit an undernourished 13 year old. Breathe in.....

18 August 2017

Day 21 - We're on the road to nowhere.....Leon to Arcachon Today was our longest day - estimated at 105Km turned into 130km! We estimated our journey based on google maps but it turns out the scenic eurovelo1 route adds a few extra Km! The low light of today's journey was 5km of off roading which had us pushing our bikes through sand swearing wildly at the various insects that where set on making us their petit déjeuner. Still, we made it to Arcachon alive, albeit maybe not in one piece!
En route to Arcachon
No, this is off-roading.
Bridge over the river Why?
Let's off road. Another google maps 'short cut'.

17 August 2017

Day 20 - Bayonne to Leon - about 70km in the end. After the disappointment of the route yesterday, the Eurovelo 1 has come into its own - absolutely gorgeous cycling through forests and glades.
Bayonne to Leon - gorgeous Eurovelo 1!

16 August 2017

Day 19 - San Sebastián to Bayonne - ~65km following parts of Eurovelo 1 / Veloddysse Bit disappointed with the Eurovelo - seems more of a concept than a thing - lots of really busy roads, or gravel paths, or busy promenades with too many pedestrians. And I got a puncture to top it off! Stayed at the lovely La Villa hotel in Bayonne - recommended!
The Atlantic!
Celebrating leaving Spain and entering France with some well deserved French delicacies. Spain was bloody fantastic - lovely people, places and food. Barcalona, Valencia, Gandia, Malaga, Cartagena and Tarragona all places we want to explore further. Very happy that the weather is cooler up north here though!
The old border. Not in use now, just open roads. Long live the EU!
Crossing a river on the tiniest ferry at Pasaies!
Rather cooler here in San Sebastián!!

14 August 2017

We finished in Barcalona and had a couple of rest days - should have been more to explore this wonderful city!

12 August 2017

Day 15 - Stiges to Barcalona - 55km Easy run into Barca looking forward to some rest days!
I'm wasting away.
Sitges to Port Ginesta

11 August 2017

Day 14 - Tarragona to Stiges - 52km Today was easypeasy - a cool 27 degrees, mildly hilly start and finish with a beautiful promenade that stretched for miles in between
Stuff I learnt about cycling holidays #6: We are in the country of the Spanish Inquisition. I bet they could have learned a thing or two from the designers of this fucking saddle. I can assure you I'm ready to renounce all my beliefs.

10 August 2017

Pretty Tarragona.
Beautiful lady in beautiful Tarragona
Stuff I learnt about cycling holidays #5: ER: Let's ride side by side. Me: Sure, pull up alongside. ER: No, no, you go in the dangerous bit. Me: Ah, right. Of course.

9 August 2017

Day 12 - snap, crackle and pop - Valencia to Castellon Del la Plana 76km Lovely cycle paths coming out of Valencia, and then through the lime groves. It was a bit cooler too, so all was going well until disaster struck! Emily had her 3rd puncture after we off roaded a bit. Fixed that up, then 2 mins later that new tube burst with a loud pop. Another tube change, and then just as we set off, I hit a pothole I hadn't spotted and a bit of my pannier tore off. I had just been thinking minutes earlier it was great that all our gear was holding up so well!
Cookie Monster. And some graffiti.
Through the lime groves to Sagunto.
Valencia -> Castillon

8 August 2017

Stuff I learnt about cycling holidays #4: Gravity is a cruel mistress. What goes down, invariably needs to go back up. Puffing and panting, and occasionally weeping.
Beautiful 75km run from Gandia to Valencia. Through more lime groves with plenty of shade to begin with. Temperature down to the mid 30s now, so much more enjoyable. The final 20k or so was through a nature reserve and then great cycle paths running into Valencia past the aquarium and science park. Really green and scenic - a change from the arid, rocky scenery of further south.
Running into Valencia
Lime groves
Beautiful Gandia port and beach.

7 August 2017

Gandia - seemed absolutely lovely and well worth a longer visit.
Two parter today. 80km. Torrevieja to Alicante. Then we planned to take the tram to avoid busy roads between Alicante and Denia, which we'd read were a bit grim for cyclists. Bit of a drama as part of the tram was out of action after Benidorm, but we blagged onto a bus with the bikes and got to Denia. Beautiful cycling from Denia - really flat and a long bikes only section through lime groves into Gandia.
Stuff I learnt about cycling holidays #3: Bibs. What's a bib? I didn't know either. To aid you in this learning exercise, consider the photo below, of two wrestling greats from the 80s. Giant Haystacks (left) and Big Daddy (right). Let's use Haystacks to represent me, since I've got long hair and a beard. Now take the outfit that Daddy is wearing, and put it on Haystacks/me. Add copious padding in the genital zone, and you've got yourself a cycling bib. You get the idea. Horrific. Though they do help with the cycling.

6 August 2017

Torrevieja was pretty tacky, so we embraced the grind, and went for a curry. We were British people, eating pretty good Indian food, served by two friendly Punjabi guys, in Spain, from menus in Swedish. Multicultural.
A week in and Jason has just found out he has been saying " you speak ketchup" when requesting his fave sauce.
Last nights view. After lunch we took a perilous hike down the cliff to the sea and had a dip. Soothed aching muscles and insect bites.
Day 9 - 56km. Short run today from Cartagena to Torrevieja. Legs didn't feel that rested after yesterday, but an early start meant we missed the worst of the heat and we were in our hotel, showered and in the aircon by 1230 - phew!

5 August 2017

Beautiful Cartagena.
Cartagena port boat trip. Including the classic line "now let's take a look at the commercial shipping area", Errm no thanks!
Spectacular lunch at Magogo in Cartagena.
Emily just started reading me all the information about Cartagena. The one in Columbia.....
Day 8 - Calabardina to Cartagena Emily's bike is knackered, but managed to bodge a repair, and heatwave Lucifer, as its being called on the news, is too much to deal with, so we're having a day off and taking a taxi to Cartagena! Time for some sight seeing!
Beautiful view from breakfast - made all the more enjoyable from knowing we have had to take an unplanned rest day today to get my bike fixed (again - this time the gears!) hoping a full service will do the trick!

4 August 2017

Day 7 - Carboneras to Calabardina - about 75km screwed up the recording again!
Leaving Andalucia, into Murcia
Stuff I learnt about cycling holidays #2: When planning said holiday, consider ambient conditions / temperatures along route. Not that we had a choice, given we're cycling home, but maybe Spain in August wasn't a great choice. During a heatwave.
Back to beach side
Going up this is no way to start a day, I can assure you.
Leaving Carbomeras. 0930 and feels like 35 degrees already!
Every morning seems to start with hills! Testing our commitment.
Early coffee. Trying to get out and on the road earlier to beat the heat.

3 August 2017

Stuff I learnt about cycling holidays #1: 'Cycling Holiday' is a misnomer. Yes, there is 'Cycling'. But no, there isn't much 'Holiday'. This seems like an important omission.
Day 6 - Almeria to Carbonera - Fucked up the recording. Closer to 80km. It was hot hot hot, and no more google maps shortcuts!
Heading into Carboneras for a well deserved beer! Beautiful little seaside town.
Be careful when google maps tells you you can take a short cut off a tried and tested track - short cut aborted and became long cut!
Somewhere near Almeria airport. Some pro looking dudes gave Emily a bit of extra pace by pushing her along up one of the hills / feeling her up.

2 August 2017

Jason found a kindred ginger bearded spirit in Almeria
Day 5 - La Rabita to Almeria - 75km
En route to Almeria!
Coffee break, Adra. Way too much stuff on those bikes!
Leaving La Rabita.

1 August 2017

Day 4 - Almuñécar to La Rabita - 55km A much less eventful day! A short run to La Rabita, since we couldn't organise accommodation in Adra. Emily had her first puncture of the trip - which was no big deal since we had some spare inner tubes.
Day 4

31 July 2017

We didn't plan to arrive in the dead of night, with our highvis on and lights, but as we turned the corner to make the final decent, there was never a more welcome sight than the night lit townscape of Almunicar
Whilst resting under a tree at a junction to exit the motorway, it suddenly came to me that my data roaming was off! In came a flurry of messages from Jason trying to find me, my fears of him running off with one of the many hotpanted beauties on display here was abated, and I set off to be reunited for lunch.....what else could possibly go wrong....Well sated with lunch we head off, with about a third left of the journey to go I start to complain about my gears not working properly....only to discover my bike rack had lost a bolt and was poking into my rear cassette. After persuading Jason it would be unwise to ride another 20km in this condition, we found a bike shop five minutes away. After an hour and half pit stop we were back on the road with my new rack.
Day 3 - Malaga to Almuñécar- 75 km OR: Murphy's Law in full effect / House of Pain Well, we made it to the hotel alive.....but what could go wrong did go wrong. What was intended to be a brisk 82km over about 5 hours, turned into 10! It started with a fall off my bike about 30 minutes due to stiff cleats, and being rescued by a young lad who couldn't understand why I couldn't detach myself from my bike. As Jason road I shortly proceeded to fall off again (dam cleats), and loose sight of Jason, his parting words being "back on the big road....and once out of sight turning down a small road. Once recovered from my fall I headed for the big road (only jason had the map) and found myself half way up the motorway in the beating sun (we left slightly later than planned)....with no Jason in sight thinking surely he wouldn't have gone that far ahead.

30 July 2017

Day 2 - Melilla to Malaga The Med was a millpond. Got onto the mainland, checked in and then headed out for some Jamon Iberico. Good lord, how I've missed pig. Malaga seems pretty nice!
Out of Africa
Roll on, roll off.
Overnight in Melilla. Grabbed a bite, slept, then headed for the ferry.

29 July 2017

Day 1 cont. Put the bikes back together, get through the shambles that is the border at Melilla, and the ride to our hotel. We're still in Africa, but we're technically in Europe. Goodbye Morocco - it's been a blast!
Death Race 2000 cont. What follows is a regular day on the roads of Morocco. We pass a dead guy who's just been killed in a crash. Our driver then nearly kills us overtaking on a blind corner over a blind hill. Standard. Fall asleep again once I'm sure we're on the right tack. Wake up and 'Drives', who in fairness has been going for 6 hours solid, is falling asleep. Grab the steering wheel as he drifts off the road. Tell him I'll get the coffees in if he stops. Quick coffee later, and we're on the final stretch. We finally get to the border with Melilla at about 8pm. We've been going 10 hours, to cover 700 odd Kms. But we're alive!
Day 1 - Death Race 2000 - Rabat to Melilla Had ordered a grand taxi big enough for the two of us and the bikes to get to Melilla and get this show on the road. 2000 Dhs price quoted. Nice. Woke up hungover after last nights proclivities. Ouch! Last few bits of tidying up, and finally the taxi arrives. Time to go! Confirm with the driver we're going to Melilla, and promptly fall asleep. About an hour and a half later, wake up and something's not right. I'm checking the signs, looks like he's taking us to Ceuta. Whilst this would indeed mean we end up in Spain, it's entirely the wrong enclave, and about 400kms from where our hotel is, and where the our ferry leaves from. A garbled conversational in French, Derija, avec beaucoup de profanities, and finally the guy gets the idea that he should really change tack and get us to Melilla. He's not too chuffed about this, and ignores my pleas to takes the motorway, and goes back country.

28 July 2017

Started off as all journeys should - by getting shitfaced. The standard Friday night in Rabat template was clearly the way to go for our last night in Morocco. We went to Sa Caleta for excellent tapas with Steve and Ahlam, had a lot of wine, bumped into Charlie, Ellie and Marjo (great minds think alike), and then onto the Dhow for drinks and dancing. Sorry to be saying goodbye to Rabat and Morocco!