An unexpected ending to the day awaited us as we climbed on board the bikes and let the short descent roll us towards the Loire and back onto the EV6 cycle way heading west.
Sub-consciously, the body just does its thing. One leg up, one leg down, the other leg up, the other leg down giving momentum forward. The right hand fingers clicking a top lever to change the bike chain up the back cog and then the bottom lever to change the chain down the back cog. This welcomed resistance provides the legs some additional power for speed at pace on the flat or less power for less speed but faster rotations to help with ascents.
Eyes look up and out at the landscape and awe and then down a metre or more infront at the cycle line being ridden to navigate where the front tire will follow. So as not to ride over anything that will result in a flatty or loss of balance and kissing mother earth herself or squashing other life treading the same path or riding through manure to flick up and hit the one behind … like it did today! The manure bit. Ops!
We have certainly been impressed with the bikes, they have done us proud and touch wood, they hold out just a little bit longer. As much as the mind, body and soul as weariness is on the fringe a little more. Elasticity in the apparel that held everything in or up has stretched somewhat. We are having to pull up the bike lycra more with the our lard arse, hip tubes and fat guts shrinkage. And have to write, the calf muscles are the best they’ve looked in a long while!
We can eat what we like knowing we will burn it off and therefore ode into a smaller village to park up and have morning tea with cake. Here we met two young Germans with fuller laden bikes than ours. They left Hamburg a month ago and are cycling around the continent for a year. I asked where they ride during the winter. Southern France and northern Spain mostly. It was quite inspiring to watch them bungy half a dozen baguettes onto the bag of their bikes, turn grin and wave us goodbye.
We too were in admiration for the few on coming cyclists. Knowing we are nearing the end, most of them must have been starting as bike clothes and attached panniers looked new and clean. Some didn’t look up when passing with uninterrupted focus on keeping their bikes upright looking for the line. So as not to run over shit that might flick up onto the one behind. And, they smelt so clean! The sense of smell is sharper to perfume after living wild and rustic for so long!
The countryside housed a heap of plots for growing seedling plants By the acreage. At different plant growing cycles as well. Rows were near perfect. Thoughts drifted home to our little vege garden and what we will ramp it up with on our return. Little Claire (daughter) has managed to purchase the courgette plants in readiness for an upcoming season of pickles and spaghetti.
Crossing the Loire, there was some indecision as to whether the exposed riverbed was because of the low water level or because of it now being tidal. A boat sitting high and dry had very moist deep green looking algae as if the water shrunk but would be back on a tide. We flavoured it being tidal.
We arrived at the city of Nantes and it’s hussle and bussle, following the EV6 signs into it’s heart. It was just heaving with population, cars, trams, and airplanes under bellies flying over to land somewhere in that direction. Eventually, our untangled confusion had us pull up by the chateau. We thought this was a poignant “X” marks the spot of making it to Nantes.
A lot of the literature about the Euro Velo 6 has this as the starting point for many heading eastwards. And some has the beginning another 60 odd kilometres further eastwards and starting at the Atlantic Ocean itself. Which for us it our true end destination, the smell of salty sea breeze.
A lady approached BClaire to play the victim of having arrived into Nantes escaping from her husband and needing help because she’d been raped by him. Mention Police help and scammers like this tart exited left. Or was it right? Our alertness for like minded shit bags elevated as standing out like we do can make us for easy targets. “Here honey, let me give you a hug with me stinky manky smelling bike top for a wiff and some comfort.” Begging is an industry here too.
We plugged in our hotel location into google maps and followed the blue line and dot riding the 6 kms to our awaiting room, shower and bed. Cleaning up, we reached out to another fellow traveling French nomad Dorian as there was a high likely of us connecting whilst we were in the area and he was going to be traveling through.
Who could have ever imagined that the three of us would be having a drink and dinner together a short time later. He’d arrived by plane, picked up his van and came straight on over.
We first met Dorian in 2013 sitting down beside him at a Star Bucks café at Bangkok airport to discover he was on the same flight as us to Kathmandu, Nepal. What transpired over the course of a week was that we eventually trekked with him and his friend Eric together, doing the Annapurna Circuit and thus cementing a global friendship. Dorian visited New Zealand during 2014 and camped out with us as back then, BClaire and I were living in a caravan at a holiday park in Christchurch. Now, here we were all sitting at the table again rubbing noses, sharing a meal and reminiscing.
He politely reminded me of our conversation about the All Blacks losing a rugby game against France knocking us out of a rugby would cup years ago; how I had him on about France testing nuclear bombs in our back yard; and the Rainbow Warrior incident where France sent agents down to New Zealand and blew it up, sinking her. Yep, we picked up the conversation where we left off with grins, and laughter, and a plan hatched as to what we might do after this ride finishes.
An unexpected brilliant conclusion to the day.