Bressuire to Annepont, France + wedding day!

6 July was mine and Kieron’s final day riding together for ‘operation get Mieke to the wedding’, from Bressuire to Annepont, France. The previous two day’s riding had racked up just under 400kms and over 3,000m elevation, so we set off weary and wobbly, but excited for the day ahead.

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Saying farewell to our fantastic host Michele in Bressuire

Due to my bum soreness, I decided to practice standing up going up hill, as for the past two days I had stayed sitting. In our first 10 minutes of riding, we approached the first incline. The sun was beating down, we felt relatively well rested, and I was saying out loud to Kieron, ‘today is going to be a great day.’ Seconds later….snap. My chain had broken! I couldn’t believe it. There was nothing we could do apart from finding the closest bike shop to us and push/walk our way there.

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Noooooooo….!!! The day had started so well…

Luckily we were in the largest town we had stayed in all week and yes, there was a bike shop, Velo Cite within just under 45 minutes walk/push. I stayed on my bike on the downhill, Kieron pushing me up some of the uphill and the rest we walked. We arrived only to find that it was the sorting office for the bike shop and not the actual bike shop. A helpful shop assistant drew a map of how to get to the bike shop for repairs. So we set off again ever so hopeful for a quick fix! Velo Cite bike shop was great, large with lots of room and half a dozen mechanics to see us straight away. Whilst my bike was being fixed, we shopped and made use of the nice toilet with hand wash!

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Thanks team Velo Cite for putting on a new chain for me so quickly!

The bike fix had set us back a solid 2 hours. We weren’t phased as our ride was a shorter one at around 130km and we just said, ‘we’ll get there when we get there.’ I was trying to arrive to catch the tail end of Mandy and Chris’s pool party pre-wedding day celebrations but knew I would be cutting it fine, so sent my WhatsApp apologies and we set off on our way again.

The ride was hot, humid and hilly. At every opportunity we could, we cooled down. At cemeteries (weird I know, but they all have taps!) and local farms. Passing through the beautiful town of Niort, we knew we were getting so very close to our final destination and to keep ourselves going, decided to stop wherever 100km was to celebrate, chill and eat some pizza we had stashed in our bags which was probably cooked to perfection from the heat.

 

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THIS IS HOW WE ROLL

 

 

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Destroyed

 

 

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Any attempt to cool down and give those legs some TLC

 

 

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Cheese!

 

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Oh yeah, let’s hang out in a cemetery. Why? Because they have taps!

 

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After celebrating at 100km and speaking about how feral I felt, we pushed on knowing we were only a few hours away from Annepont. We passed beautiful sunflower fields and watched the sun go down and as we approached our final few km’s, got stuck behind a tractor. I didn’t even care, I was feeling good, happy and just overwhelmed that we had made it from London to Annepont and all for my friends Mandy’s wedding to Chris – I was so chuffed!

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We had made it! What a feeling. Everyone was so welcoming and asked what we wanted first; shower, food or a drink. I literally wanted everything all at once! The chateau was beautiful, picturesque and had that day-before-wedding buzz feel about it. It was amazing to see my friends and the bride to be. Even though it was around 9pm, people wanted to hear all about our journey and were pouring us beers and asking questions left right and centre. It was an uunbelievablefeeling and one that I will never forget.

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Mandy and Chris – the wedding day!

After a well-earned rest, I was up and excited for the day’s celebrations ahead. Even though I felt exhausted, I was buzzing from all the excitement and still processing the 4 day’s riding I had just done. I was one of the bridesmaids, along with my best friends, some of which I have known since the age of 3. Mandy was the most relaxed bride I have ever seen and this made us bridesmaids feel chilled and able to enjoy every moment.

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Everything about the wedding was perfect. Great company, well organised, beautiful weather, fantastic entertainment and local food and drink. I had a blast and was so honoured and grateful to have been part of it. Memories I will cherish forever. Thank you Mandy and Chris and to the Talbot’s and Barton’s for their endless hospitality!

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To see the full Strava ride click here.

Click here to read Kieron Ramsay’s blog write up on day 5 – Never Break The Chain.

If you’re inspired by my human-powered year-long Powered by Me journey, why not donate to July’s charity, Right to Play UK who help vulnerable children overcome poverty, war and disease through the power of sport and play.

Donate to Right to Play UK now via my Just Giving page here, or text PBME77 to 70070, followed by the amount you want to donate.


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Argentre to Bressuire, France

On 6 July, Kieron and I set off from Argentre to Bressuire to continue our ride south to Annepont. We had another monster day ahead of us at around 190km’s of riding and it was set to be another scorching hot day. We had our matching Holme Moss cycling tops on (thanks to Kieron) and were set for the day in true team spirit style.

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Matching cycling jersey’s team style

 

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For the first 50km, we followed the cycle path which ran alongside an old railway line. It was peaceful and car free but a bit tedious at times and every so often got the better of me. All we’d had was coffee for breakfast, so as soon as we passed through a town, we stopped to find a patisserie. We stopped in Craon for pastries and Orangina, good timing, as by this time the heat was rising.

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Who ate all the pastries…?!

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Whilst eating our pastries a car reversed into my bike. At first, I didn’t think anything of it as it was a very small knock, but after careful inspection, it had jilted my gears a little. The driver was extremely apologetic which made me feel better and after all, I had to just ride and get on with it! It was working OK and could have been worse.

The next part of the ride was made up of lots of straight undulating roads that just seemed to go on for ever. It was mind over matter. The heat didn’t help as there simply wasn’t much shade around, so we saw a fountain and immediately stopped to have a dip and try and cool down.

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Loch Ness Monster type roads that mess with your mind!
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Shameless fountain dip

It wasn’t long before we passed a small town where outside a church there were mannequins dressed up in different clothes and scenarios from around the world. It was so weird we just had to stop and have a gander. We proceeded to piss ourselves laughing by inspecting the weird models and having our photos taken in each country; Mexico, Peru, Alaska, America, Brazil and Canada. Needless to say, it was a welcome break from being in the saddle for hours.

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World tour stop: Mexico
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World tour stop: Canada
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World tour stop: America
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World tour stop: Alaska (my favourite!)
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World tour stop: Peru
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World tour stop: Brazil

At every opportunity, we tried to cool down as we carried on our ride to Bressuire. We stopped at a farm to fill up our water bottles and a crazy farm lady welcomed us into her home with open arms and poured us ice cold juice and gave us cold wet flannels whilst she filled up our water – bliss! We found an outdoor tap in a small town and hung out near it for a while getting some strange looks (when you’re that hot you just don’t care) and best of all, waited for several rotations of a farmer’s sprinkler watering their field. After we left Kieron said, ‘I think they put pesticides in that,’ oh well, it had been done now and perhaps it made us stronger!

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Quick dip!
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Oh yeah…water!
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Rocking some helmet hair there Kieron

We had finally arrived in Bressuire, a large built up town with a friendly face, Michele our host for the night. Once we dropped our bikes off in her garden, she immediately brought us out water melon and beers, amazing. The only problem is, I couldn’t sit down. Literally. Kieron and Michele laughed at my attempts for several minutes until I found a softer chair to sit on. Now I could relax!

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Sums up well the extent of our efforts this day!

Our total distance was 188km, just under 10 hours riding time and 1,500m elevation climbed. What a whopper of a day and two big rides in a row. Watch the short film below to see the entire journey.

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To see the full Strava ride click here.

Click here to read Kieron Ramsay’s blog write up on day 4 – More Fun Than Pain.

If you’re inspired by my human-powered year-long Powered by Me journey, why not donate to July’s charity, Right to Play UK who help vulnerable children overcome poverty, war and disease through the power of sport and play.

Donate to Right to Play UK now via my Just Giving page here, or text PBME77 to 70070, followed by the amount you want to donate.


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Day 1 to Annepont > London to Caen

On Monday 3 July I was completing my final preparations to depart the next day for London to Annepont, France. One of my best friends, Mandy Barton was getting married and I was honoured to be invited as one of her bridesmaids. Whilst planning Powered by Me, I often considered not including international travel in the challenge. Yet, whilst learning more about cycling and talking to others about their own experiences, everyone always said how wonderful it was to cycle in France. I was told, ‘the roads are so smooth, people give you lots of room and that people were exceptionally respectful of cyclists.’ I didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to travel Powered by Me to another country and when a fellow blogger and endurance cyclist, Kieron Ramsay agreed to ride with me to Annepont (and back), it was a done deal.

The final hours before departing on a 1,600km round cycle trip

My final preparations helped to get me in the right frame of mind. One of the biggest challenges was to fit everything I needed into a 6L capacity Apidura bag that fitted in my bike frame. I managed to fit most items, but of course had to ditch a lot. And almost all items were for eventualities. Things I’d rather not carry on a 1,600km ride, but I needed ‘in case of…’ It was doable, as I gave one of the other bridesmaids another bag to take to the wedding with my dress, shoes and makeup. There was no way I was cycling 1,600km with that!

When Kieron arrived and I saw his bags, I also had nothing to complain about. Kieron was riding with around 30 + kgs of weight on his bike (panniers) and in a large backpack (the type you take to go hiking or travelling). The difference was, Kieron was using our ride as a test for his bike European cycle trip, so he literally had everything he was planning on taking for 2-3 months; tent, sleeping bag, spare clothes, spare bikes parts and more, good effort!

London to Annepont – the route

The entire route to the wedding and back was a big one. The biggest and most badass ride I had ever planned and contemplated. I was a lucky lady to have Kieron ride with me. He is more experienced, knows way more about bikes and is perhaps one of the most positive and happy-go-lucky people I have ever met.

London to Annepont route

The total ride was going to be just under 800km one way (and including the ferry crossing from Portsmouth to Caen which unfortunately I wasn’t able to travel human-powered, maybe next time). Once the entire route was planned using the fab app Ride with GPS, I then broke it down to 4 days one way, to cycle on average 150-ish km a day with no more than 1,600m elevation daily. It was then a case of finding cheap Air BnB’s to stay in as close to the end of each day’s cycle was possible, just to make sure we had a hot shower and a good bed for the night!

Day 1 > London to Caen, France

Rather than write a long-winded blog post about our first day’s riding to Annepont, covering London to Caen, I’ve decided to illustrate it in the form of a poem. Enjoy!

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Can we Caen?

Hearts beating, adrenaline pumping,
Cleats creaking, nobody’s beating,
Heading West to Vauxhall Bridge,
No thrills just the grills.

Over and around, up and down,
Turn the corner and we’re in no sound.

Quiet towpaths, winding along the riverway,
Before we know it, we needed to cross the Thames way,
No way, a ferry crossing you ask?
How long does it take to get to Ports-mouth?

Two quid down and a tiny boat ride,
It wasn’t long before we passed the tide,
Gravel throwing and Geese rowing,
The Thames widens and the wind stops blowing.

Ducklings quacking and grass crackling,
We stop for lunch in a chilled out cafe-in,
Beef, chicken and burgers galore,
We left fuelled up and ready for more.

Half pipe rides and gliding slides,
Winding canal paths leaving us to just enjoy the ride,
Eyes on the horizon, the sea was nearing,
Pedal, Pedal, Pedal, what a good feeling.

Giant sea Kale was where it was at,
Samosas-a-plenty, and some beer on tap,
Watching the world go by, as we waited to board our boat,
Caen was calling, legs down for the night, as we set sail on our float.

I was thrilled to have completed day 1 of 1 in England with a friend by my side to experience it all the way, knowing that first thing in the morning, we would wake up in France and really begin the adventure.

Day 1

To see the full Strava ride click here.

Click here to read Kieron Ramsay’s blog write up on 1 + 1 = a couple of freaks on a bike.

If you’re inspired by my human-powered year-long Powered by Me journey, why not donate to July’s charity, Right to Play UK who help vulnerable children overcome poverty, war and disease through the power of sport and play.

Donate to Right to Play UK now via my Just Giving page here, or text PBME77 to 70070, followed by the amount you want to donate.


LIKE ME ON FACEBOOK
FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM
FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER
FOLLOW ME ON STRAVA

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