Day 4 – Guenroët to Machecoul

Distance cycled ……. 50 miles

So boys how would you sum up today in 3 words?…. Hot, near-death-experience, truck-stop

After enjoying a good long section of yesterday’s ride on Tarmac trails the boys realised what a big difference it made, particularly when they had to go back onto rough tracks as they neared the end of the day. On Tarmac not only did they cover much more ground, but also the bikes felt better & they didn’t feel so battered! 

Yesterday’s tarmac trail really made a difference in so many ways

So over supper last night they looked at how they could change today’s route in an effort to avoid the really rutted tracks that they were having to ride along. After looking at the maps they found an alternative route that would take them across country along quiet roads to the ferry that crosses the Loire at Le Pellerin, west of Nantes.

Firstly though they had to get some sleep and it has to be said that the 3 of them in a compact tent isn’t making for the easiest of nights and in the middle of a heatwave it’s even harder, particularly when they’re in a noisy camp site, which was the case last night. The only thing they could do was to cast their worries about mosquitos to one side and sleep with the tent door wide open, in fact Tom moved so he had his head outside, just to try to get cool enough to get some sleep. 

Despite a shady spot the tent was like an oven, particularly with the body heat of 3 blokes!

It’s fair to say that their efforts didn’t make much of a difference and today they were all very tired through lack of sleep more than anything else. Andy described it as feeling as tired as he did when the boys were babies – and as any parent will know -that’s not a good feeling, particularly when you know you’ve got a long cycle ahead of you in a heatwave.

Today’s ‘Orange’ warning for a heatwave just where the boys are cycling

That said they got on with breaking camp & repacking the bikes, getting out as early as possible onto the trail. There were 2 main reasons for this – the hope that they would be able to cover a good number of miles before the worst heat of the day and to try to catch the ferry across the Loire before it probably stopped for lunch.

At first they followed the Canal before turning off onto the route they had found last night, with Tom (thanks to his Ten Tors training) doing an excellent job of navigating them towards the crossing point.

The first few miles if the day took them along the Canal – the track may be bumpy, but the view & wildlife are lovely


Very early on in the planning stage the boys had chosen to avoid cycling through Nantes as many of the blogs they read mentioned having to cycle across the main road bridge over the Loire, which wasn’t a pleasant experience and whichever way they looked at it, catching the Ferry which crosses at Le Pellerin seemed a much better option.

The efficient little ferry at Le Pellerin – a great, safe & free way to cross the Loire

So by late morning and after 30 miles they arrived at the Ferry, timing their arrival perfectly, by catching the boat just as it was about to leave. The service is really efficient and also totally free and offers a really pleasant way to cross the Loire.

On board the Ferry & looking happy to have reached the first big milestone

Once on board for the short crossing they got chatting to another couple who were also cycling to Provence, to head up Mont Ventoux. They said they had also been using other routes, rather than the canal trails as they were so hard on the bikes ….. giving the boys more food for thought. 

Crossing the Loire is a huge milestone and was one of the key markers they had on the route down, so to have managed it by lunchtime in the 4th day of cycling was great. We always noticed that once you get South of Nantes, you almost feel as though you have shifted into a different Country – the houses change to having Terracotta tiles on the roof and seem to be painted in much brighter colours – the whole area feels much sunnier (if that makes sense) 

A quick stop on the far side & realisation a good night’s sleep is needed

Once they had ridden off the Ferry they stopped to get their bearings & realised that the most important thing for them was to get a good night’s sleep tonight, so a quick call was made to the ‘support unit’ who was out on her own bike in Provence.

Not a bad view from the the support crew’s office!!

After looking at where they may be able to cycle to, there really wasn’t much of a choice and a room was booked in a hotel in Machecoul, not on the route they had looked at, but not too far away. 
Luckily it was only a further 20 miles to the hotel, which was perfect as the Garmin was flashing ‘Health Warning 40 degrees’ and they really didn’t want to have to cycle much further.

The only problem was that the hotel was actually on a main road, which wasn’t really clear from the website and the boys felt they had to take their lives in their hands to actually get to it. 

In what could have had a very horrid ending a Taxi-driver barged past Tom, clipping his panniers and sending him slewing onto the gravelled edge of the road. Luckily Tom just managed to keep control of the bike, which was just as well as the Taxi found itself head on with a Lorry and swerved too, nearly hitting Tom again. After the inevitable blaring of horns the boys managed to get safely into the car park for the hotel (which turned out to be a truck-stop) & finally head into a cool room for a good shower & hopefully a decent meal and a much better night’s sleep. 

Tom feeling happy to be alive with George!

The forecast suggests that the extreme heat will break tomorrow, so hopefully the boys will be able to cycle in much more realistic temperatures for the next few days, but we’ll have to wait and see.

They have been in the room tonight poring over the maps to look for a quiet route that will take them back onto the marked trail & towards La Rochelle & discussing what’s best over supper 

It may not be an idyllic view tonight, but the boys are clean, cooler & will hopefully get the goid night’s sleep they need

Despite the impact that the off-road trails were having on the bikes, they are certainly preferable to coming across main roads and having to share a road with impatient drivers with all the dangers that brings and so they will revert to their original plan and hopefully be in La Rochelle in a couple of days when they will take a much-needed rest day.

Hopefully 2 days cycling & they’ll be able to chill out for a day in beautiful La Rochelle

It was lovely tonight to be able to properly chat to the boys via Skype and it’s clear that they’re having s great time, despite the hiccups that have happened along the way.
As Andy said ‘We may be tired and exhausted, but we’re having a blast’……….

And surely that’s what it’s all about!

Tired & exhausted but having a blast !! The smile says it all

If you are enjoying the blog & would like to support the boys in their efforts to fundraise for The Wooden Spoon Charity en route then you can add a donation through 

Until tomorrow ……

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