Longest distance so far

Yesterday was a long one.  I set off late having done some more work on this site/blog and didn’t hit the road until 11.15.   My continuing battle with google maps journey planning went wrong immediately: I couldn’t believe that she could get things wrong within one km of leaving the hotel but she did: radically but obviously and then she told me to head right up what was just a track across a field made my tractors to a small farm.  I had checked the route she was offering the night before but obviously not carefully enough.

Anyway, I gave up on her and decided that the main road from Chartres to Orleans would do me.  It was moderately busy but minutes could go by without a lorry whooshing past and it was pretty straight, impossible to lose as a route, and hardly climbed or dipped at all.  I made rapid progress and had a late lunch opposite the cathedral in Orleans.  I’ve seen the cathedral before and it’s sort of collision between gothic and renaissance from the 16th century that really isn’t what I like.  However, the double layer of columns alongside the nave does create an interesting amount of space and change from the usual gothic layout.  I nipped round, took some bad ‘photos including some of the stained glass of the life of Jeanne d’Arc which are so different from the much earlier, glorious, stained glass in Chartres that I had to respect it with a few ‘photos.

Then on, having booked myself into the “Formula 1” bargain basement chain of hotels in Blois.  As I set off I was amused to think that this was rather like saying to myself I’d just head on to Brighton from home in South London: not the way I’d usually think about travel.

I was able to pick up the mostly wonderful voie velo vert (green cycle way) running just south of the Loire and the she voice of google maps was already talking nonsense so it ditched her thinking the green cycle signs were good enough … just as they weren’t and I clearly missed that the one I took wasn’t heading on to Blois but the small one to the right was.  Oh dear.  I realised a few km on and ignominiously had to ask google voice for help (I should just have trusted myself and headed north working from the sun and reckoning I’d have to find the voie vert again before I cycled into the river).  Boy did she take her revenge leading me a wild goose chase that cost me 5km or a bit more but a stupid amount of time.  Finally, I did ditch her, found the voie vert and made it to the hotel by about 21.00.   Just under 150km in all and running out of oomph at the end but it was a big day.

Internet here was initially useless but has improved and this morning I have done some more work on the site/blog including this entry and working out a bit more about how I may get maps up here in future.  However, I need to hit the road so that and getting more ‘photos up will have to come later.



We have a blog! (and click here to read it: yes, this isn’t how it should work!)

Oh boy, this has been a struggle and not helped by the challenges of finding time, energy, working internet etc. that are all necessary in order to get a skeletal site up and running.  But we are up and running at the end of my first rest day: a wonderful day in Chartres.  It is appropriate in a way that it starts here because my jumbled memories of how this idea really took shape are that my “French aunt” (she wasn’t my aunt, more complicated than that, more perhaps on that in a later posting) said “Ah, c’est ton pelerinage!”.  I think it must have been when I was explaining to her that I was about to hitchhike off to Chartres.  I must have been 19 and sort of chaperoning my sister and some of her friends camping near tante Lucienne in Saint Servan in Brittany.  I probably had to look up or ask her what “pelerinage” meant but I was very much amused by the idea of an agnostic doing a pilgrimage and knew she was right.  That there was something oddly spiritual about my objective.  That little pilgrimage went well and I spent a couple of days sleeping rough in a building under construction here and was deeply moved (not for the first time, we’d seen it on an earlier family holiday) by the cathedral.

A year or so later, on a holiday, hitchhiking again but now in the Loire, I started to pick up the references through the scallop shell and the knotted rope belts in architecture in the Loire chateaux and churches, to the pilgrimage to Santiago and it was then or soon after that I decided that when I retired (I was then a preclinical medical student or perhaps just into clinical) that I would cycle from the UK to Compostela.  A year or so later I decided that I would also do a separate cycle ride: from the UK to Rome.  However, I knew that would come after Compostela.  Next year maybe?

OK.  I’m here.  It’s been an emotional day and I’ve been wrestling with technology for a few hours to get this started so I’ll stop here.  Very best to anyone reading this.