Roughly six months on from my last bike adventure and I'm getting itchy feet again. At this time of year most people are booking up package holidays in Torrimolenos, I'm planning a couple of weeks worth of cycling.
I seem to be quite good at planning routes now, having done a few of these tours and sitting down for a couple of hours I came up with four potential routes which quite excited me;
Choosing between them would be quite a challenge.....So, true to form, I'm doing all of them. The first, 610 miles in early spring this year (End of March 2017), leaves me very short of time to get rid of the Christmas spare tyre (which is considerable) and get the cycling legs back into some kind of condition.
Following that, I'm intending to do the second (The South Coast of France) in August at the height of summer. That one is a short ride, only 400 miles, so I will be taking it easy and soaking up the sun and scenery as I go - only aiming for 40 miles a day and camping most of the way.
The two in Italy I may save for next year (2018) or squeeze the first leg in the Autumn.
One thing I am doing differently with the first trip along the North Coast of France is that I am not taking camping gear this time. I'm planning to do the whole trip with a minimum of luggage and using hostel / B&B accommodation.
I had been tempted with a new bike for this year. Tern bikes have a couple of folding tourers which look a little bit tasty. The eclipse particularly. However, the thought of not having my trusty Dawes Galaxy Plus for a trip just didn't feel right. The bike has been on all three of my tours (over 2100 miles) and god knows how many training miles. Somehow I feel a bit of loyalty to it, which surprised me.
I am having a new front wheel built for it with a Son 28 Dynamo Hub and a tubeless ready rim. Other than that and a new rear cassette it will be the same bike which was dragged to Land's End with me in 2014.
The route for the first trip starts in Dunkirk - not exactly the Belgian border, but near as damn it for my liking and a handy ferry port from Dover - and ends in Brest, following a trip to Pointe de Corsen which is the most westerly point of mainland France. The route is roughly;
Bayeux Via Ouisterham, Sword, Juno and Gold Beaches
Coutances Via Saint Mere-Eglise for lunch
St Malo Via Mon Saint Michael for lunch
Brest Via Pointe de Corsen (westernmost point of France)
I am particularly keen to take in a couple of the Normany beaches so the route may vary as I head up the coast of Normandy - but we'll see. As always it's a movable feast and subject to weather and my whim.
Now I've settled on a course of action I can't wait to get started. Watch this space for updates.