Having thought long and hard the previous evening (and having had some help with my GPS from Pablo) I decided to cycle to St Nazaire. I hadn’t established where the bus went from and still wanted to avoid the busy roads of Nantes so decided to make my way through small towns and villages which Pablo had sent to me the night before. I felt I should give it a go and was gaining in confidence.
First stop would be Saint Gilles des Bois, a straight forward cycle along the canal path again. The rain had pretty much stopped and there were some great rainbows to be seen. It was a lovely morning with just the odd shower. It started getting very hot again so I stopped at a little village called Guenrouet. The locals were very nice. I asked one to watch my bike while I used the facilities and went to the shop. I did this quite often as it’s much easier to get someone to watch the bike than unload all my bags to get the bike lock out. As I departed I heard some of the other chaps, who were sitting around having a chilled beer or coffee, asking the older gent who had watched my bike if I was his girlfriend. I know my spoken french is pretty ropey but I do understand quite well. I just chuckled to myself and continued on :-).
I continued on to Pontchateau which included a fairly steep hill on the approach to the town. I needed to stop and eat my lunch so I bought a drink at a cafe and ate whatever I could find in my bag. Bananas were a pretty regular snack plus a roll I had bought the day before too and a packet of crisps (really healthy!)
By this point I was feeling quite tired. Being on my own for a few days now, I began to feel incredibly homesick again (which, as I mentioned before, was quite unlike me). I would get a bit teary, usually around supper time but today it was at lunchtime. When I cycled the feeling went away as I had to concentrate on where I was going and watching for obstructions and making sure I drank enough and didn’t put any unwanted pressure on the gears etc. (My gear changing is still far from smooth but I keep practicing). Since I realised I didn’t have a spare chain or any spare links I really didn’t want a broken chain!
With the added weight on the bike this trip was already the most amount of cycling I’d done. The gravel and sandy paths also made it slightly harder going. Today was a day of mainly B roads so the going was good.
It took me a while to get out of Pontchateau since my GPS seemed to be taking me in circles but most likely it was rider error at fault!
In terms of following the GPS. I had downloaded the files from the velodysee website but when I got my Garmin Edge Touring it had the navigation on too and so I was trying to follow the navigation which didn’t always agree with the downloaded route. Pablo had helped me turn the navigation off so that I just needed to follow the route on the map. This made life SO much easier.
I went straight through St Joachim (which I still can’t pronounce properly) and Saint Malo de Guersac reaching St Nazaire around 4:30pm. I found the Tourist Info again and went in to enquire about the bus I had read about which would take me over to Saint Brevin les Pins. The tourist info is ALWAYS a good place to aim for if you’re unsure of accommodation or need travel advice. I left my bike right by the door this time keeping one eye on it at all times.
The bridge from St Nazaire to Saint Brevins les Pins.
Pablo had cycled over the bridge (which is possible) the previous day but said he’d only recommend that for really experienced cyclists. The cycle lane is very narrow and large trucks and coaches use it so you need to be very careful. With this is mind I decided to get the bus as they would strap my bike to the back of it. Each bus had space for 6 bikes.
It was SO easy to get the bus. The bus went from the train station and was easy to find. They hooked up Hamish (the bike) through the front tyre and then the back wheel was secured using a bungee – that was it. Off we went. It was really cheap too although took around 30mins to go round to the bridge and get to the other side. Making very good time today I found the municipal camping ‘Le Pas du Gu’ which was really good. I charged up my Garmin at reception but the solar panels had been working very well. I got the tent up but found that 2 sections of the poles were broken. One at the front and one at the back – this was a real blow. I managed to fix it up with tape I borrowed from the tent next door and hoped for the best. I had a beer (which had Ecosse on the label), got cleaned up, had supper and hit the hay. I hoped the tent would survive….and it did!