Today started early with a lovely ish, breakfast in my hotel. Was not going to make the same mistake as yesterday! And was out and pedalling before 9. The journey out of Nantes was fantastic, past some of the buildings I hadn’t seen yesterday, and then, after a few (read 10) u-turns I managed to find the EV6 route.
As with yesterday it was a quiet, well surfaced, cycle path for around 20 miles alongside the river in beautiful surroundings.
Then the fight began! Garmi as he shall now be known, started acting up big time! At this point I’ll say that I know it’s wrong to have names for objects, and to humanise them. But, when you’re peddling along for mile upon mile on your own you kind of have no choice. Anyway, he started telling me to go straight on one screen, but “please do a u-turn wherever possible” on another…fights broke out, TZ was unhappy, I was panicking. This went on for at least an hour. I was climbing 1km rocky outcrops, the Loire alps as they shall be known!! Only to have to double back. In the end I turned him off, then on, then off…cursing all the way!! I think round about Rabottierre we reached an agreement!! And found the route again, after several incredibly harsh, stoney trails. God only knows how TZ did not get a puncture or just shake apart!! Chapeau to him! I think at one point I actually punched the air when we found the route!!
We stopped for lunch at St Florent le veil. Which has a pretty impressive 2 bridge crossing over the Loire. Here I ordered from the menu formule, all in French and all understood. OK so I had steak and legumes again and as with yesterday, followed that with creme brûlée, but when in France and all that. Also had un pichet de rose – local and lovely.
After lunch we were time trialling again. Off piste, following Garmi, who was beginning to redeem himself. Mile after mile after mile of well laid country lanes. Steaming along we definitely made up time on the earlier shenanigans!! These lanes were surrounded by a crop, a crop I’d seen many times the previous day. It just went on, on both sides, for an eternity. Initially I thought it was wheat, until I seen some yellow poking out half way down. I was in a 15 mile corn corridor!! Which sent me a bit mental!! Nothing to see on either side but big corn plants 12 ft high!
Eventually we got to the Ile de Chalonnes, a 12km island in the middle of the Loire and a stepping stone back to the North side. Some were on tandems!
Once on the North side of the river we were making for the outskirts of Angers and firmly in vine country. After a few more unplanned ‘detours’ we rejoined the EV6 at La Pointe and made for Bouchemaine were we would take the bridge over the Maine a tributary of the Loire to the South of Angers and head for Les Ponts de Ce, an area of Islands where the Loire meets the Maine and where our campsite was for the night.
The campsite in St Aubin was fantastic, no raving, a lovely secluded pitch, and no starey people!!
Plan was to pitch, shower then head back into Angers.
Scrapped the plan, I was knackered!! It had been a solid 8 hours of cycling to gain 65 miles. So we nipped out locally for a pizza and got an early night.
Lessons for next time, distance feels doubled when fully loaded, and as a result I would say stages should be kept to 50 miles max. You can easily do 70-80, but don’t feel you’ve seen anything – which is how I felt about today. In the end it felt like a grind to get to the campsite. Tomorrow is only 40 miles, so that should be good, but slightly worried now about the day after…very early to bed tomorrow night I think.