South of Rochefort is the pretty walled town of Brouage. Its a super-mini version of Lucca with a walkway along the wall. The barracks hosts a display on fortified towns around the world, plus some history about this one.
Royan is the next large town on the Atlantic and my next stop but a spoke breakage cut the day short. Made a quick fix and limped to the nearest town which just so happens to have a huge warehouse / repair centre. The mechanic had it repaired in no time and sold me a handful of spokes that fit my rear wheel. Result.
The couple on the campsite next to me were debating to cut short the holiday and return to the UK where it is BBQ weather. My information on a few more days of cold and drizzle to follow ended the discussion. A friendly couple, also had stories to tell about their past expeditions.
Marks of the second world war are everywhere on the coastline. Its a sobering to think what it was actually like to live there at the time overlooking a continuous line of gun emplacements, or for those tasked with mounting an attack.
The Ferry from Royan to cross the Gironde to the next stretch of coastline was braved by only 2 other cyclists. ‘Velo Oddesey’, the main Atlantic cycle route gets very little traffic in these conditions.
Rows of cafe restaurants with no customers, board staff and worried owners staring blankly at the rain soaked streets.
My waterproofs are good, so I can ride the whole day and be completely dry, including shoes and socks! Its when I stop and visit places, the damp and cold creep in. Thats why its my preference to keep moving, spokes permitting. On the whole, when cycling through the desert furnace in Egypt or Ethiopia, I’m sure to look back on this with fond memories..
Here the coast is exactly like Formby in Merseyside. It has sand dunes, pine woods and no red squirrels. Infact with the cold and mist, it could well be Formby. The difference being the 100Km stretch is punctuated by a handful of small surfing resorts linked by an easy bus ride from the city of Bordeaux. A couple of bars, restaurants, guest houses, a campsite with pitches for tents and small rentable bungalows but in most abundance is a vast empty shoreline with giant Atlantic breakers rolling in. A surfer haven with lots of surfer dudes.
First ‘wild camp’ in the pine woods miles from anywhere. Perfect spot just where where the pine trees stop and the dunes start. If you are reading this now it means I managed to find my way back the the cycle track!
My last glimpse of the Atlantic at Le Porge-Ocean then east with the wind and rain pushing me effortlessly to Bordeaux.
When I had visions of entering the city it was through sun drenched vinyards, not sheltering from the wind and rain in a supermarket carpark feasting on bread, pate and apple juice.
The route into the city follows a disused railway line that leads to the campsite. A pleasant place where nobody complains about the noise from their neighbours as any late night music and shouting is completely drowned out by the racket of thousands of toads croaking in the whole night. Spent the evening feasting with fellow cycle campers.
The forecast says its the last day of rain and cloud.. so looking forward to getting some sun at last!!