On 12 July, Kieron Ramsay and I set off from David’s pimp pad in Mayenne town for our final destination in France, Caen port to get the ferry back to Portsmouth. After a well earned rest the night before, we had the place to ourselves to have some breakfast, coffee and blast out some tunes to get us pumped. With the ferry not until 22.00 and a 140km ride ahead, we decided to take our time drinking coffee and listening to music – which comprised of Prodigy, Pavarotti and Pharrell Williams!
We decided to end on a bit of Bill Withers and playing the game of holding our breath for ‘a lovely day…..’
Once we set off riding, it was a bit drizzly and hilly, passing through Mayenne and out onto the main roads. Just outside of the town, we cycled through the hospital to find out way to the old railway line track. It was nice and gentle riding for an hour or so and a tad muddy in places. It was nice to be back in the countryside and away from the traffic. We decided to stop at the nearest town to find a patisserie and to fulfil Kieron’s sugar addiction (with mine growing after having been riding with him for several days!). We stopped in Cacean to scoff some snacks and have a cuddle with the local golden retriever!
We headed back out on the road and soon hit the muddy and tough off-road paths. It was hard riding at times, but also lovely to be away from traffic and with nature. We passed a cute goat family, with some kids and stopped to coax them in with some bread.
We passed through beautiful Domfort and also a smaller town called Flers, where we stopped for some coffee and snacks and were entertained by the endless locals popping in and out of the shop to place bets on some horse race. A few espresso’s later we continued on, passing on and off showers, with some heavy downpours at times which led to us scrambling around under shelter to wrap up our electronics and put on our wet weather gear.
After the rain cleared we began an unexpected, hefty descent which seemed to just go on and on. Kieron was quite a bit ahead of me and within seconds out of sight. I was picking up more speed every second and thinking that this must be the fastest speed I’d done all trip. At the bottom of the hill Kieron was waiting for me and it took me a few seconds to stop shaking and compose myself – I had reached my top speed of 63.6km/h and we joked about how we had gone way over the legal road speed limit. A buzz to say the least!
My legs were getting tired by this point and I was getting sick of clipping my left cleat in and out constantly. So much so that the fitting was hanging off and not clipping in and out properly. So I decided to just rest my foot on the pedal rather than worrying about not being able to clip out, or worse, having a crash.
After a bit more cycling along the old railway line and some obligatory raised bike shots, we had arrived in Caen finally and knew we were less than an hour away from the ferry port! It felt strange to be in a built up city and also felt like a lifetime ago we were last here (even though it was about a week). We stopped off at a Lidl to buy some snacks and have a quick break. Kieron looked after our stuff while I went inside. When I came out I found a balloon attached to my bike with ‘Powered by Me Allez’ written on it! What a delight and instantly put a huge smile on my face, lifting my spirits up to the max. It was a true symbol of our incredible trip and achievements – but we still had a bit more to go before we both made it back safe and sound to our homes.
We completed our journey from Caen to Ouistream by following the river path, which felt boring, windy and a bit of an anti-climax. But we battled on knowing we had food and drink up ahead and also a bed for the night on the boat, bliss!
An hour or so later and a wobbly attempt at locking the bikes up outside, we were done and could see the ferry port in front of us! Our France riding was entirely complete! We stopped in a restaurant to have a feast and attempt at processing what had happened.
We had time to kill before our ferry, so we just chilled and enjoyed our food and drink. About an hour before the ferry was due to depart, we got back on our bikes, shivering away and wanting to get on as quickly as possible. It took a while to get on, but once we were on and in our room it was just bliss. No words can describe the elation we were both feeling, knowing we had just travelled to La Rochelle and back, all under our own steam and with me, a wedding in between!
After a shower and some stumbling around trying to stretch, we fell asleep to Family Guy on the TV within seconds! Our Viva La France riding was officially over, but we both had one final UK-leg to complete before we were home.
If you’re inspired by my human-powered year-long Powered by Me journey, why not donate to August’s charity, Dementia UK who help families cope with dementia through their Admiral Nurses, providing specialist assistance and support to carers and those with dementia themselves.
Donate to Dementia UK now via my Just Giving page here, or text PBME81 to 70070, followed by the amount you want to donate.