The Cycling Europe Podcast continues to follow Andrew Sykes as he cycles on his ‘Grand Tour’ of Europe. In this third part of the ’Grand Tour’ series, Andrew sets off along the Veloscenie cycle route from the historic city of Chartres to its fellow UNESCO World Heritage site at Mont-Saint-Michel. It’s a journey of four days with overnight stops at a dystopian municipal campsite at Nogent-le-Rotrou, Alençon and Domfront-en-Poiraie before his arrival on the north coast. He also takes time to pay a visit to the Musée du Vélo at Villeneuve-en-Perseigne. The music is by Rob Ainsley.
If cycling along disused railways for fun (and why else would you do it?), then the Veloscenie is for you. Prior to embarking upon my Chartres to Mont-Saint -Michel section of the route (which is about 80%) I’d read that the Veloscenie connected the capital with the north coast by linking up defunct railway lines but I wasn’t expecting them to be such a dominant part of the route. It must be at least two-thirds of the total length and, in temperatures such as those provoked by this current heatwave, you couldn’t wish for a better place to cycle, the sun been screened for much of the time by the surrounding vegetation.
If yesterday was a spinning class of a ride, today was a spinning class with that knob below the handlebars cranked up several notches. If your route passes the ‘highest point in north-west France’ you can probably guess you’re in for an up and down day and, at gradients that a train could cope with when they plodded up and down these valleys many decades ago, that’s what happened. More disused railways – the area must once have been a maze of lines – with a handful of pencil-straight-Roman roads. More satisfying that yesterday and a much more welcoming end at a municipal campsite that breaks records. Keep reading…
Today was the equivalent of a cycle touring spinning class. Well, mostly. Almost the entire route from Nogent-le-Rotrou to Alençon was off road and along a very long disused railway line. I almost felt guilty for having made all of those men work so hard 100? 200? years ago in building the railway line in the first. Now it’s ‘just’ being used by cyclists and walkers. But hey! At least it’s still in use…
To answer Joe Stafford’s question (that he posted to YouTube a few moments ago) immediately; yes, it’s hot but if you take the necessary measures to protect yourself then I think you’ll be fine. Joe is coming to France soon but as long as he does what we are told to do; cover up (I’m on my second hat of the trip…), plaster yourself in factor 50 (I’m still looking very pale compared to the French), drink lots of water (my two Cycle Touring Festival bottles are drained at least three times a day) and keep eating (no problem there if you are burning lots of calories), you’ll be fine.
Episode 053: Le Grand Tour, Part 2 – The Belgian & French Coasts To Dieppe / EuroVelos 12 & 4 / L’Avenue Verte To Paris
The Cycling Europe Podcast continues to follow Andrew Sykes as he cycles on his ‘Grand Tour’ of Europe. In the previous episode, he had travelled through his first country, The Netherlands. In this episode he continues his journey south along the coasts of Belgium and France following the […]
Back to the writing. I’m currently on a busy train that’s about to set off for Le Mans. I’ll be getting off at Chartres, one step along the Veloscenie cycle route from Paris. Busy in terms of people, busy in terms of bicycles; the current count is six of which three are laden touring bikes. It’s a sight that would leave your average Trans Pennine Express train guard seeking counselling. There are people clambering over the bikes as they make their way down the carriages to find their seat. Now far be for me to say but if people actually worked out which carriage to get on when they are on the platform, like would be somewhat easier. Anyway, I digress… and we are off. Six bicycles it is.
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