- Elizabeth Cameron-Smith
225km ride today! -On the road to Bordeaux
Two HUNDRED and twenty five kilometers in one day!
Grant left La Rochelle with a firm plan to cycle along the coast and then catch a ferry across the estuary at the mouth of the river Charente.
The sun was shining, the sky clear blue and the temperature frosty but just riding through the spectacular landscape was enough to set the tone for a fabulous day on the bike.
There were some wonderful yellow blankets of canola plants in full bloom as Grant neared St Jean D'Angle later changing into beautiful wetland for most of the morning- a flat area with inter leading canals and locks covered in coastal shrubbery with interesting reeds and grasses.
He arrived at the estuary crossing point and pressed the button to call the boat over to the bank he was on. There's an " apelle bateau" (call the boat) button on a pole with a solar powered light on it for this purpose. After a while a man that had been fixing his eBike not far away came over and tried to chat to Grant, pointing at the button and then over at the other side of the estuary and his watch.
Initially Grant thought he was just telling him the boat was delayed so he said it was ok, he would wait. The French man began to show his frustration and after throwing his arms up in the air, he went over to his bike, found his smart phone, went to the calendar and showed Grant the month of
April - pointing to the 19th!
I guess Grant would still be waiting as the service is closed for the season and only reopens next month - none of the sites he visited about this route mentioned anything about that!
So, a change of route and plan for the day as he had to cycle inland to cross over the river via the long bridge that he wanted to avoid to stay away from traffic.
He eventually arrived at Royan to catch another ferry across the Gironde Estuary to Soulac-sur-mer. After a short wait in the freezing cold wind he boarded for the short ride.
On the side of Soulac-sur-mer there is a nature reserve - Parc Naturel Regional des Landes Gasgoine- which Grant rode through as nightfall approached. He estimated he had about 40 kms to go at that point and he really wanted to get to Bordeaux.
" I had to reroute a few times today....and I also ran out of water at one point. After riding along a resurfaced rail road track for a while I cycled on the most amazing cycle track in the dark and as I was going along this massive wild boar came barreling out of the woods and just missed me. I got a huge fright!
There were also hundreds of buck running over the cycle path and in the surrounding forest which was so great to see as I hadn't really seen any other wild life besides birds in the forests I've ridden through.
I pressed on and rode until 1 am when I eventually reached Bordeaux and found the accommodation you had booked for me."
Grant-recorded voice message
At this time of the night I was quite stressed- the keys to the property had to be collected at a different location ( which I hadn't seen when I booked the place earlier), I could hear Grant was just too exhausted to be irritated with me....and he eventually got to the place at 2 am..... and discovered that it was on the first floor, had a spiral staircase and there was no lighting in the passage that led to the stairwell.The downstairs neighbour came to see what the commotion was - obviously lots of stair climbing with panniers in hand and trying to find his way in the dark must have been noisy and sounded fairly suspicious!
The day at least ended on a positive note- the bed was perfect and the place was lovely.....and the next day would be one dedicated to rest and replenishment!
What a day! Long. Tough. Beautiful. So worth it!
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