La France


After eleven days of cycling, we have stopped in the Ardennes for our first ‘rest’ day. Although we have been resting from cycling, we have been working all day cleaning and repairing kit – diving into the tent whilst some heavy showers pass us. Autumn seems to be chasing us south and we are fortunate not to have been caught by any serious rain whilst cycling, so far…

Since the last post, we followed the south coast of England from Brighton to Dover and made the ferry that we’d booked. Northern France then greeted us with flat roads, warm sunshine and gentle breezes (baguettes and good cheese). Our route then took us along the Belgian border – crossing between France and Belgium – and into some hillier terrain towards the Ardennes. The last 20km yesterday was along a cycle path alongside the Meuse, which was paved all the way and made for very pleasant cycling. We ended the day with a treat by going out for dinner and raised a (well earned!) glass of Chimay to the Belgian brewing town we’d ridden through earlier in the day.

The main challenges have been keeping all our kit as dry as possible, in particular the tent, and the time it takes each day to do all the things other than cycling – washing, buying food etc. Also, we can’t find any gas canisters to fit our stove, so we’re going to have to test out the multi-fuel bottle system and burn some petrol or meths, which should at least get us used to it before Africa.

Over the next few days we’ll head through Strasbourg and south to Switzerland. Our next rest day is scheduled for half way through Switzerland, so we’ll try to blog again then.

We’ve posted a few photos from the last few days, including some pictures from a lap of a cycle park which we accidentally strayed into…!

PS Since writing this blog entry, but before posting it, we have cycled another couple of days to Thionville, on the west bank of the Moselle river. The weather has become very cold and damp, so we are keen to get further south as soon as we can – just the small matter of the Alps to deal with…


La France

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La France

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The first blog…


Chris: In our first post we mentioned the hills of Cornwall – we’ve now also discovered the hills of Devon and Dorset. This is one of the reasons that we have not had chance to write a proper blog entry before today. Other, more insignificant, factors preventing us putting fingers to keyboard have been meeting up with friends along the way and occasional visits to the pub. Fortunately I believe it is pretty much flat now until the Alps, so we should be able to update the blog more often (although I met a French person this evening who challenged me on this point…).

I’ve just got disproportionate satisfaction from moving the little bicycle along our Google Map route, from Land’s End (actually I noticed the bicycle had been placed somewhere out in the Atlantic – in case anybody is concerned, neither us, nor our bicycles have been in the Atlantic) to Brighton, where we are now staying with a friend. It has been enjoyable cycling through England, but we are both looking forward to catching the ferry to France on Tuesday and finding some less familiar roads.

We’ve found the bikes to be quite heavy to ride, but have managed to cover the distance we’d planned each day – and a westerly breeze has been helping us along. The main problem is that the cycling is taking a long time each day, so we are not getting as much rest as we’d like in the evenings, but hopefully that will improve with time.

Cycling is a good way to travel country lanes and particularly so in the autumn. We’ve had blackberries and wild apples to eat and on several occasions have stopped to watch birds of prey hovering, or to look at a line of swallows starting to gather on the lines. I’d like to think that we might meet some of the swallows again in South Africa at the end of our journey and their migration.

I shall end this first ‘proper’ post by thanking everyone – family, friends and colleagues – who have been supportive of our trip in words, deeds and donations (and also by noting that I just bumped into Tessa in a pub in Brighton and requested (demanded?) a mention in the blog!).

Day 1 – Cornish hills. Probably some of the toughest in the world.