Cycling Day 22: Arcachon To Gujan-Mestras

Click here to see the detailed statistics of today’s cycle.

No video today, but I do have a sign that I came across on the short – just 10 km – ride from Arcachon to the municipal campsite at Gujan-Mestras: 


Do not cross… without looking in both directions; one train can hide another”

It made me smile when I saw it. Firstly how nice that such a sign can still exist. This is not deepest France but a much frequented coastal area that during the weekends and holidays is packed with those who have escaped nearby Bordeaux and many other places in France. I can’t imagine any such signs still exist in health and safety obsessed Britain. It’s a pity.

On a more personal note the sign seemed to sum up where I am on this cycle across Europe. The past 24 hours have seen my mood sink somewhat. The weather has had a significant role to play in this. As you may have noticed from yesterday’s video, it was a very damp day. The rain was never as torrential as it had been in the final few kilometres before arriving in Salamanca a couple of weeks ago, just steadily chronic. Amusing myself with the job of director of video photography kept my mind elsewhere but as I approached Arcachon it was difficult to ignore the realities of life that the tent had been packed up very wet in the morning at the municipal site (where there was no one to collect my money so was free) and there was no possibility of getting it erected and dried out before bedtime. A hotel was needed. It being Arcachon, cheap accommodation was thin on the ground, so I bit the bullet and spent a night in a very comfortable place near the seafront. 

Consulting the weather forecast when I woke earlier today it looked as though the whole weekend was going to be a washout and so far this has been proved correct. I did, however, have a window of opportunity this morning to find a campsite, erect the tent and get it dried. 10km down the road was the small municipal site at Gujan-Mestras where I did just that. The rest of the day was equally divided between washing my clothes, sleeping and making a trip to the shops to buy degreaser / chain oil / WD40 to first remove the accumulated gunk on the bike and then replace the oil that has been washed away.

So, just as I did earlier when I came across the train tracks barring my passage, I have paused my journey. I’m currently looking in both directions beyond the grim 24-48 hours here near Arcachon and remembering that only a few days ago it was very enjoyably cycling through northern Spain and over the Pyrenees and that in a few days time I will be continuing my journey north under rather more clement skies (yes, I’ve checked!) looking forward to meeting up with friends in the Loire Valley and then hopefully Paris. Yes, this minor inconvenience of wet weather may indeed hide further setbacks as yet hidden from view but tomorrow, or the day after, my cycle to Nordkapp will resume and I will once again have a smile on my face. Allons-y!


Categories: Cycling

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7 replies »

  1. You are in the biggest forest in Europe I believe!!
    It reminds me very much of the first 10 days of my southern trek in 2010, just a few weeks behind you!! There I mastered the art of taking down the inside of the tent and packing it all away dry! The outside shell was constantly wet till sunshine in Strasbourg!!

  2. Hi Andrew, loved the video through the forest and was imagining the sound of the sea, wind and bike tyres whirring on tarmac. Feel I am with you all the way. Jacqui

  3. It seems that the British curse of a crap weather forecast on a bank holiday weekend (Mayday) is following you. More trees tomorrow?

  4. This is one of my favourite signs when in France! Well done Andrew on your journey so far it puts my little trip this sumer to cycle along the Rhine from Basel to Koblenz to shame!

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