24th June 2024
Day 17, Hendaye to London

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Trip back to London

Blog for the day:
Writing this rather late, 3 weeks after the trip finished and I've not been on my bike! Traumatised lol. Got up at around 6am, weather was meant to be better from now on, typical. Drove some of the cycle route to the airport to drop Phil off for his flight home and back to work. The drive was going to be long, I was due to drive all day and get the last tunnel train at about 11.30pm then drive back to the house, but I decided to change this. Now I would drive to Calais and stay overnight then catch the train back in the morning. This way I wouldn't be too tired, also meant I could get some shopping in the evening at the superstore and pick up some fresh stuff like cheese, cakes and baguettes in the morning just before I leave.

It was pretty cloudy a lot of the way up, very flat all around the Bordeaux area, a bit like Kansas. I pulled into this little village to get some fuel, breakfast and lunch bits. Even though the town was grotty, the boulangerie was amazing! Lovely bread, croissants and pan ah chocolate, so I picked up a few of them for the drive. Stopped off for a picnic lunch before heading off again. A few hours later I stopped for a little 20mins sleep as was tired. Crossed some of our holiday cycles and trips across France, near to Azay-le-Rideau. Lots of nice chateaus about, very nice countryside. Got lost in Rouen, a lot of the french places now have those driving tax areas depending on what car you drive. Hopefully I don't get stung.

Stopped off one more last time for some fuel and leg stretch. The car flipped 100,000miles on the drive back. I thought I had recorded the miles before I left so I could work out how many the car did, but it seems I didn't. I just reset the counter to zero and it would have gone around that clock more than once for sure. Got to the Cite Europe around 19.30 so had plenty of time to stock up on booze and food. Checked into the hotel then drove up the road to watch the sunset for the last night in France and to reflect on the trip. Got home pretty quick, the traffic working in my favor. All done. Temperature was warm but not on the way back, it never got above 28degrees.

I had started to think about doing this trip while on the 2023 one. I thought it would be a fun one to do. It was a very hard though, much more than I thought it would be, especially in the mountains. The first week was good fun as there was lots to see. I had planned the route to take in lots of TdF places from my database. Physically felt great on the first few days and had lots of fun on the bike. Lots of great places to see and ride the bike. Weather wasn't all that great though, no HOT days which might have been a good thing, but would have been nice to have felt the sun on my back. I also had a lot of strong wind which made it hard. Pretty fantastic though and had some amazing food.

The second week was much harder, too hard perhaps. The extra climbs I had penciled in, I left out which was a bit of a shame. I was fit enough, maybe it was down to the fueling, just not putting much in. I didn't get the lunch stops from the car like other years as i thought I would get stuff from the shops like you can in other parts of France. But there just didn't seem to be much about or open to do that. The weather didn't help much and i performed better on mountains on warmer days. I really enjoyed them. There were a lot of new road surfaces and in the rain I didn't feel safe. When the clouds closed in it also made descending challenging, you get super cold if you're not wearing the right clothing. Lucky I had the car most of the time to put more layers on or change into fresh kit if soaking wet, sometimes that was just sweat. Glad I put a cold/wet weather "go-bag" together so I could grab it when i need it instead of going through the big bag of full clothes. It was so hard though, not sure i would do this again. I will prob just do normal holidays and do loops out from basecamp. Glad I did it though.

Video of car reaching 100,000