Week Four: Sunshine Brain

23/04/18-29/04/18

Distance: 322.8 km / 200.6 miles
Elevation: 1,957
m / 6,420.6 ft

Minus the bloodthirsty mosquitoes, we started the week the best way possible: with two days' rest on a hot beach, supping beer and red wine. Embarrassingly, while in this sunny daze, we got totally and utterly lost on the way to the supermarket. A trip that should have taken one hour, ended up taking close to three. We somehow managed to get locked in the campsite supermarket, too! I suppose that’s what too much sun and vin rouge does to the brain.  

 Turning water into wine.

Turning water into wine.

 Bites within ten minutes of arriving at the beach campsite. Final result: Mosquitoes 548 – Jen 0.

Bites within ten minutes of arriving at the beach campsite. Final result: Mosquitoes 548 – Jen 0.

 Not the lock-in Dan was expecting.

Not the lock-in Dan was expecting.

Keeping the beach theme going, we followed our two days off with a cushty 50KM cycle along the coast and a wild camp on the beach. Albeit a pebble beach, but our Thermarest sleep mat saw to it that we didn’t feel a thing. And of course, we had a pre-dinner dip in the sea. Naturally we woke with sunrise and hopped back on the coastal cycle path.

 Bed for the night. It was more comfortable that it looks, honestly. 

Bed for the night. It was more comfortable that it looks, honestly. 

 Nature's alarm clock.

Nature's alarm clock.

France has some incredible cycle paths. We’ve pretty much been on one since Toulouse. That’s roughly 300KM out of harm’s way. The majority have been along canals, which did get a little rough to ride, but the rest have been a cyclist’s dream along the EuroVelo 8* and national cycle routes.

These amazing routes make cycling very popular in France – we met so many cyclists heading in all different directions. The most memorable two wheelers were Patrick and Patricia, a French/English couple who live local and like to zoom along the French coast on their Juicy electric bikes. In typical English style, Patricia pulled out two flasks and offered us a proper British cuppa, which we couldn’t turn down.

When we haven’t been on cycle paths, we’ve been directed along the back roads of France, thanks to Komoot – a navigation app designed especially for biking and hiking. After Strava and Google spat us out on some hairy roads, we (Dan) did a little research and found this gem. It even has a ‘bike touring’ setting. After a week’s use, we love it. So much so, we paid for the full package, which was discounted to £19.99.

 Komoot shows you exactly what to expect.  

Komoot shows you exactly what to expect.  

Speaking of bargains, we succumbed to another bulk buy offer, which saw us demolish six Mars Ice Creams in one sitting, as they were the same price as two. Yes, we felt sick. We also landed a cracking hotel deal in Nîmes, which meant we could stay right in the centre and easily visit the famous Arena of Nîmes – a Roman amphitheatre, built in 70AD. It was hard to comprehend that we were looking at something so old.

 Arena of Nîmes at night. There was a Roman Gladiator Games there the following day.

Arena of Nîmes at night. There was a Roman Gladiator Games there the following day.

In bike news, mine had its first bike shop visit. The right gear shifter had twisted so much, that a simple twist back didn’t avert disaster. Over the last few days, the gear cable frayed and I lost my biggest six gears. I'll admit, I can be like a bull in a China shop sometimes. I better take more care.

We ended the week as we started it, back on a cycle path – the Via Rhona, which we'll pretty much follow to Geneva – and a wild camp. This one, however, wasn’t on a sunny beach, but hidden in some woods amid a thunder storm. 

 After riding a couple of days with dodgy gears, we took it to Cycling Génération in Pont-Saint-Esprit.

After riding a couple of days with dodgy gears, we took it to Cycling Génération in Pont-Saint-Esprit.

 Dan drew the short straw and cooked dinner in the thunder storm.

Dan drew the short straw and cooked dinner in the thunder storm.

*We found a great link to download all EuroVelo routes for GPS devices and smartphones here