So if any of you know me, I am a bit of a lastminute.com kind of person… I like to call it spontaneous! Haha.
I’d prepped for this trip to an extent, but sometimes its fun to leave things up to fate and follow the road of adventure. There is something exciting about not quite knowing what is around the corner and I think sometimes you just need to fly by the seat of your pants! Needless to say the nerves are in full flow but I remain a believer that if your goals doesn’t scare you, it’s just not big enough.
Today is all about getting to the real start line in Calais as efficiently as possible, as Day 2 from Calais to Paris will be the big day.
Good old bruv decides to accompany me for the first 50 miles and I mostly spend it drawing up a list in my head of all the things I forgot to pack, and what impact that may have. Shoe covers and long gloves are on the list and quite crucial as if it rains or a cold starts in the mornings I could potentially get very cold and if I am in the middle of nowhere hypothermia is a real possibility – the fact that I have actually come close to this in previous escapades, when I thought a couple of Sainsbury bags around the feet would do does not help me in the kicking of myself for being so disorganised!
The miles tick by and we reach our half way point and stop for a coffee and then its over to me and things start to feel real… I am actually embarking on a solo trip to Paris and back and although I’ve prepared the routes and loaded them onto my GPS, judging by the Google street viewer dude I checked out at the last minute I am wondering just how lost I am going to get!!
‘oh well’ I think to myself ‘with bro gone I am free to enjoy the ride and stop to take pictures of pretty flowers whenever I like!’ 😀 ….Priorities right??!
The cycle to Dover was a nice route with only one dirt track I went down and preyed for no punctures, however there was an absolute stonker of a hill getting into Dover, which did not please me at all! Better get used to this I thought.
Soon enough I am at the ferry port and still feeling super nervous and excited. Overall, the ride down was OK, a bit windier and hillier than I expected and the bag did weigh me down up the hills, but I am very pleased with my Apidura packs, they are very aerodynamic compared with normal panniers and so shifting it on the flats didn’t seem to be too much of a problem.
The crossing to Calais was very quick and I used the time to recharge both myself and my gadgets! Not to mention wolf down a chicken burger, I really need to get in the eating game if I am going to survive this trip.
I get off the ferry at Calais and cycle around in a couple of circles trying to find the exit and reminding myself its time to cycle on the right hand side of the road. Lucky for me I had booked a hostel style room just 500m from the ferry port so I head there and get sorted. I am tired, I stink and I am hungry!
I head out in search of food and supplies for the next day and discover that the town is pretty much closed everywhere, but eventually after wandering around looking lost and acting like a tourist a little French lady comes to my rescue and walks me to the nearest open super Marché where I stock up on water and snacks, I grab a pizza on the way back too, I really don’t feel like eating but I have to force it down or I am simply not going to make it.
By the time I get to sleep its getting on for midnight – I forgot about the time difference which means I’m an hour ahead so I decide to wake a little later and set off slightly later so I’m not in the dark too much. My mind has other ideas though and for the second night in a row I am on about four hours sleep, wide awake and itching to get on the bike for the big day 2.
Time: 6hr 57
Average Speed: 15.5mph
Elevation: 1,723 m
Conditions: Windy but cold, dry
Thoughts: Legs felt fine, bit windy in places, feel heavier with packs on especially up the hills