One of the things about cycling is that road surface really matters: it’s not just ups and downs over hills (and, to come, frank mountains), its even ups and downs of a matter of centimetres and the quality of the surface that make a difference to how fast, or how fast for the same energy, you can travel. You really notice this on trip like this. Having had a semi-moan about strong head winds and cross winds a few days back I’ve been fairly lucky since that which is nice as I’d feared a steady Westerly cross wind down the Atlantic coast might be a hassle but it hasn’t been at all.
For the last two days and for all the rest of the French part of the trip, I’m on the “Voie Verte Velo Atlantique” or VVVA as I affectionately refer to it. I think it may actually be the “Vélodyssée l’Atlantique à Vélo” http://www.francevelotourisme.com/base-1/itineraires/la-velodyssee-latlantique-a-velo/troncons/arcachon-leon (WordPress doesn’t want to make that an HREF link: sorry readers!) It’s mostly glorious, like the route I used for a bit on the Loire: either shared with pedestrians or pretty much bikes only, and with some sections shared with only tiny number of cars. There are two catches: one is that the signposting is dodgy and, hampered by having no online maps yesterday, I ended up losing 30km in two bits where I failed to realise first, that it had simply stopped, and the second time that it was just taking me a beautiful inland lake, fantastic but a complete dead end for me. The other is the actual track. There was an exhiliharating (?spelling?) bit two days ago that, if I get the ‘photos working will get a blog post of its own titled “tightrope cycling” and then there is the wonderful joy of swinging through woodland and dappled sunlight.
Ah but there’s the rub: “tree root ruckling”. I do respect the capacity plants have to simply destroy concrete and tarmac: always a salutory reminder of the power of what seems so much less strong to rip through our hard materials. However, I wish they’d give the VVVA a break! There were a couple of stretches yesterday which were like cycling over a cattlegrid. Mostly they’re more solitary and one interesting thing is that sometimes it’s hard to see that such a small tree produced such a big ruckle, occasionally it’s clear it’s a tree root but it’s almost impossible to see which of the small shrubs is the offender which clearly intends to grow big and strong.
There was a stretch yesterday where the saintly maintainers of the VVVA were on the job: hundreds of patches of tarmac marked by white (something chemical and nasty that tells trees to put faith in roots in other directions I fantasised) with cuts down into the tarmac clearly made with edge cutters that I suspect presage further work to cut the roots out completely. It’s a huge job of work for someone but trust me, it’s appreciated as is the whole VVV system.
Enough from me. Tent will be dry as a bone and I must get pedalling.