One Bike One Tent Two Seas
In the spirit of a true adventure we've been following Dorset based Ben Thompson as he started out in May this year 10miles from POW HQ with the intention to go exploring and to discover France by pedal with his Bike, a trailer, a tent, a yoga mat and a touch of intuition as a guide.
1) So Ben you are now back in Dorset from your epic Summer tour where did you end up getting to and what mileage did you cover
Yes, it was quite the mammoth trip! Though not as big as those being undertaken by some peeps I met on the road or have seen on the inter webs since getting back, it was was the biggest ride I have ever done. My trip, starting in Dorset and heading over to Cherbourg, then dropping down in a SW direction to the Atlantic, covered the most of the west coast of France. From Fromentine (SW of Nantes), where I joined the ocean cycle paths that make up what is known as the ‘'Velodyssey' to Lacanau. From here I headed east towards Bordeaux and the the waterway known as the 'Way of the 2 seas’ made up of the 'Canal Du Garron' and the 'Canal Du Midi' which lead to the Med at Seté. All in all, I covered just over 3500km which is about 2175 miles.
2) What stands out as the highlights of your trip
Definitely arriving at the Med late in the evening and jumping in.. followed almost immediately by me jumping right back out again as it was freezing. But at that point, I had pretty much realised my main intention, that of cycling to the Med from Dorset. On top of that, Great food in Seté cooked by my dear friend Sushi, The sound of Cicadas along the canals (super loud), waking up in tent and having survived any perceived wolf or bear attacks (totally unfounded perception). Sleeping on beaches and seeing the sun coming up from the water during a morning dip was pretty Epic! And as it happens, I really enjoyed the fact that my fitness improved so much in the first 2 weeks. I noticed how much less effort it was becoming and i was going from an average of 50-60km to 130km per day.
3) Were there any moments when you wanted to peddle to the nearest airport and fly home?
4th day in, leaving Mont St Michel, I woke up with the voices in my head telling me "it will be ok, there is a warm bed and a roast dinner back at home, just turn around and go back it will be ok” after an hour in the saddle and some music, these thoughts had been replaced by “This is F$%£ing cooooool” and a big smile :) On a few occasions, I did miss the comfort of a bed, but you suck it up and get on with it as it is what it is and a very good way of coming to terms with this concept, is by doing exactly this kind of thing. Its very grounding and makes you appreciate just what you have, including your health…perhaps not mental health! On the whole thought, I was in good spirits 95% of the time, even when it was raining…I remember coming in Les Sables D’Olonnes in the rain and singing Michael Jacksons ‘I wanna rock with you’ at full volume. Which is a tension relief in the rain by the sea..the locals loved me!
4) What would you advice be to any one thinking about setting out on something like this
Make sure you have padded shorts that actually fit you! Mine were not the right size and not that well padded. I think this would be the best investment you could make, a really good pair! And when packing, you will invariably pack more than you need. I was camping the entire way (except for one hotel stop that i didn’t really need) and for the most part, I need 70% less clothing than I took. I left a lot behind with other people who needed it more than me. Also, ensure you rest and take on enough water. I have a tendency to get in a groove on the bike and not know when to stop. Make sure you stop and refuel and stop for the evening before you get over tired and start talking to yourself…you won’t like the replies you get ;)
5) Has this inspired you to do more and any ideas where this might be to…
Yes, definitely! I have learned a lot from this experience and know how I would change the experience if I were to do something similar. With regards to next trip, I am considering a few ideas right now..One is a swimming tour of Scottish lakes and another is swimming around an island, like Majorca or Lanzarote. With a dry bag with all my kit in. Not sure how feasible either are, but when I do one of them, i’ll let you know!
You can check out Ben's full blog of the trip Here