Cycing in France Day 1: Fun with Ports & Farms

I’m sitting in my tent as I write this. It’s strang being back in my tent again, first time since my trip across Britain. The strange part is that it seems very long time since I’ve been in here, yet not. Well, where I’m typing is where the day ended. I should go back to the beginning.

To start my trip south to France, I started by cycling north, from my place in South London to a train station in North London, St Pancras. Cycling through London is a thrill I’ve really come to enjoy. One unique part this time, cycling through London, was that I had a moment where there were double-decker buses on 3 sides of me, when I was at a stoplight. If I already didn’t look strange enough with my folding bike loaded with 4 panniers and a tent next to 3 double decker buses, I made an effort to look a little more strange. I took out my camera and took pictures of the busses. I’ll try to add them to this blog, if I have time and good net access.

I made it to the train with time to spare and hoped to snooze a little, since I stayed up too late last night packing. As usual, however, my solo cycling lead to a fun conversation. I met another cyclist who was going to cycle for a few days in Belium. We talked during the entire train ride, from topics relating to Bill Bryson’s books, to linguistics, to Shackleton. I’m not even sure if we talked about bikes much.

When I was in Dover, the first thing I did was go to a bank to get some Euros. While I waited in line, I talked with yet another cyclist. This time, we actually talked about cycling. He also pointed me to cycle shop, since I needed a new waterbottle holder. After that, I found my way to the ferry, went though customs, and had another strange experience with being surrounded by large vehicles. This time, it was semi-trailers. The pour into Dover, so they can finished their delivery in France. The port is made to handled a lot of semi-trailers, with large roads, gates, and numbered places where trucks are assigned to wait. Once again, me and my little cycle rolled on nearby.

When the ferry got underway, I snapped a picture of the white cliffs for old time’s sake.

Then, I took the standard walk I always take through a ferry, through the café, near the many sets of windows, through the bar, and into the store for a bit. I bought a French phrase book, found a quiet place to thumb through it, and dozed off.

Cycling out of the port of Calais was a little more challenging than cycling into the port of Dover. The same industrial sights were around, with large lanes and gates for semi-trucks. I had to ignore my sat nav to find the best way out. The town had some of the same industrial feeling as the port, kind of gritty. I could hear a buzzing sound in my front tire, meaning that the spokes were lose. I found a green space by a stream, got my tools out, fixed the spokes, and installed the water holder. I finally felt like I was underway, with cycling at least.

I followed a canal about 10 miles out of Calais, and then, cycled through farm country. I’m having problems with the routes I create with my sat nav, so I had to spend more time with navigating than I normally do. Farming country doesn’t provide a lot of sights, but since I, briefly, worked on farms as a kid, I have a lot of respect for the work that occurs there. One big hill and a couple of small towns later, I found a campsite, with a sign on the front that said “Find a pitch, and the owner will come to see you in the morning.” It was a cozy, trusting, sort of message, and it was in English.

It was a relief to find my first campsite in France so easiliy.

After that, it was the same routine as before—start my stove, so the water boils while I put up my tent, unpack my gear, have supper, wash dishes, take a shower, fix whatever problems occurred from the day’s ride, get myself situation inside my tent, crawl into my sleeping bag, do some writing, and turn out the light.

6 thoughts on “Cycing in France Day 1: Fun with Ports & Farms

  1. Go well Stephen, enjoy.
    By the way, ‘The Call of the Wild’ is proving to be an amazing book for Esther, she wants you to know how much she is enjoying it!

    • Hi Fran,

      Good to hear from you, I’m glad Ester’s enjoying the book. It’s one of my favourite adventure stories. Please let her know that I’ll be thinking of her reading it while I’m cycling. Also, please remind Ester & Tim that I hope they share the books when they’re done.

  2. Hi Stephen nice to hear that you are out and about on your bike again.I look forward to following your journey in France.Best wishes and stay safe,Pat.

    • Hello Again Pat,
      Very good to hear from you again. It’s fun how our chance encounter has allowed us to stay in touch a little. I still think back on how you helped me out when I was out of options, for a place to stay. I hope you’re enjoying the start of spring.

    • Hi Nancy,

      You’re the first of my American friends and family to add a comment here. Is this kind of like your tendency to be on the phone a little? (Hope that’s at least a little funny. I remember Mom joking about that sometimes. I miss her laugh, but I like to think she’s with me on this trip. Although, if she were, I imagine I would be pulling her in a trailer, behind my bike. 🙂

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