Cycling trip : Bordeaux to Manchester

Jan 13th, 2019, 10:45 AM
  #1  
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Cycling trip : Bordeaux to Manchester

Hi

I have booked an EasyJet one way ticket to Bordeaux for May this year. I値l be cycling back to Manchester over a week.

I land in Bordeaux mid afternoon and plan a 15 mile ride to stay near Margaux on the first night.

The following day, I値l be cycling from Margaux to La Rochelle via Rochefort. There are two ferries over the Gironde, one from near Margaux to Blaye and the other is at the end of the estuary which services Verdon to Royan.

If anyone knows the area, my first question is which is better bank of the Gironde? East or West?

many thanks
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Jan 14th, 2019, 01:37 AM
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It depends on what you're looking for BC. The South or West side is much more wine orientated, while the North or East side is more holiday orientated. We stayed at St Palais near Royan some years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it as a holiday place, but we visited Bordeaux, Margaux and the wine areas along the South side for the opportunity to visit Vineyards along the way.
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Jan 14th, 2019, 02:50 AM
  #3  
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Thanks Rubicund

I’ve had chance to look at the area this morning, i think that I’ll definitely opt for the West Bank as the terrain is very flat, seems much prettier with the vineyards and it will be a very good solid first day. So I’ll take the ferry from Verdon to Royan and then travel through Rochefort to La Rochelle.

Can you suggest anywhere for lunch in the Royan area? Also can you suggest a Hotel in La Rochelle near the old town so I can just shower and get get out quickly to eat? The reviews of the hotels that Ihave found seem pretty average. I looks like many people head to Ile de Re to stay.

Have you anything planned this year?
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Jan 14th, 2019, 08:11 AM
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I did your route coming south about 4 years ago, I'll go look for it this afternoon. I would try and move onto the coastal path in the Medoc asap, there are roads along the Gironde but the sea front is much safer. The east coast of the river tends to wiggle in and out an you are on far more roads.

I've looked and my records are poorer than my memory. We stayed along the coast from Royan in a very standard holiday hotel. We liked rochefort especially for the travelator bridge, a very cheap deal but so much fun and the route avoids a very fast road. Along the route are a bunch of Ibis (or poorer) which at least ensure you get a good nights sleep. You may also like a whole load of restaurants basically spud-u-like but with a French name and of course massive potatoes for all the carbs you need.

http://www.mybikeguide.co.uk/ may assist even if out of date

Last edited by bilboburgler; Jan 14th, 2019 at 08:35 AM.
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Jan 14th, 2019, 12:15 PM
  #5  
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Thanks for looking Bilbo.

whats the travelator bridge? It sound like something out of Gladiators.

I have been been a bit worried about crossing the Charente the bridge south of Rochefort dominates traversimg the area. There seems to be a cycle lane but the bridge looks a bit intimidating.

We stayed in IBIS ho else before but I am trying to find more locally owned places.

Rubicund

i know what you mean about the roads in the Medoc, some of them look very straight and very narrow in rural areas. In Northern Britain that usually attracts farm workers driving very quickly whilst in mobile phones.
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Jan 15th, 2019, 01:07 AM
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BC, not planned anything for this year (or indeed for most of last year) due to DW's health. Last time we were there were following a tractor laden with hay with the very young driver on his mobile. The topmost bales hit a power line over the road and brought half the load off and I had an interesting moment avoiding a sparking cable and a lot of hay.
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Jan 15th, 2019, 03:04 AM
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Sorry wrong name "Transporter" https://www.pont-transbordeur.fr/roc...sporter-bridge which needs you to go via Echillais and we avoided the D123/D733 all together in that area.

it means that getting into Rochefort will be along the river bank (going anti-clockwise around the town, climb into the centre then head off north west). But it reduces how much of the busy road you need to follow coming in. You'll also find that in the area south of Rochefort there a fair few roads on the side of the main road (lots of left and rights) which are very quiet just takes you a bit more time.

You do have to take the bridge at the Seurdre, but that is protected and the views are worth it.

Coming north the bike path follows the coast and is dead flat and that joins the road just before the Seurdre bridge.
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Jan 15th, 2019, 03:08 AM
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Going back to the Transporter bridge, you can visit the museum to it (same ticket for the bridge) as you approach from the south. It was the star of a film with some very famous 60s dancers flexing...... Anyway the crossing takes a couple of minutes but you might have to wait for the bridge to "come in" max 20 minutes. When we were there they had a coffee shop on the bridge so the two minutes went fast, maybe it has changed.

Which ferry are you crossing the channel on?
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Jan 15th, 2019, 03:51 AM
  #9  
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Rubicund

I really sorry to hear about your DW, my mother has had developing health issues and after spending years and years travelling, she is very much limited.

My Dad’s quite happy as “when you seen one beach, you’ve seen them all” and “ the only thing I remember about Venice is paying e10 for a coffee”. He’s all travelled out.

bilbo

The transporter looks brilliant, I love quirky bits of engineering. There’s something like this in Middlesbrough but I think it’s just for freight. I’ve dug around and it appears to be closed for renovations but has been replaced by a small ferry boat which I’ll use because the D road bridge looks brutal.

So so far I’ve got the following plan.

Sat 11th May : Arrive Bordeaux mid afternoon, reconstruct bike and cycle to Margaux. Stay there overnight.

Sun 12th May : cycle up the West Bank through Pauillac (avoid spending huge amounts on wine as I can’t carry it). Thanks for the heads up about the vineyards as I don’t know the area and had missed the fact that some of the world famous places are in the route.

take the ferry from Verdon to Royan and then across the Charante, use the Route Imperiale to get to La Rochelle. Overnight La Rochelle.

Monday 13th May Cycle to Nante , no plan yet, overnight there.

Tuesday 14th Cycle to St Malo : no plan yet but I need to get a early start and get a move on in case of technical issues as the overnight ferry leaves at 8:30pm. overnight to Portsmouth.

Portsmouth to home , no plans yet but looking like :

Wednesday : Portsmouth to Stow in the Wold

Thursday : Stow to Telford

Friday : Telford to home.

I’d welcome any thoughts or suggestions, I’ll be using a light road bike with small panniers, 15mph is pretty standard for me and much of the route is pretty flat. To give you an idea, I’ve had 3 months off cycling and last Monday I did 98 miles which included two big climbs in the Trough of Bowland. No after effects. 100 miles a day isn’t an issue for me.
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Jan 15th, 2019, 04:27 AM
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don't know the route imperiale, I'd just use EuroVelo and Sustrans in the UK (I prefer using European cycle paths to British ones, but if you have to Sustrans is the best).

https://en.francevelotourisme.com/en
http://www.eurovelo.com/en/eurovelos/eurovelo-6
https://www.sustrans.org.uk/ncn/map

but if you cruise at 100m/day then I guess you know all these
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Jan 15th, 2019, 04:49 AM
  #11  
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No, I don’t.

Other than one trip to Mallorca, I’ve only ever cycled North of Manchester and up to the Highlands.

ive heard of the Euro routes but never investigated them. With this trip I’m going to have to keep detours off the straight line to a minimum.
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Jan 15th, 2019, 05:29 AM
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ah, useful to know, I've cycled all over Europe but not much in the UK (C2C only major journey) at about 10mph as that is the speed Mrs Bilbo does.

I have friends who did the length of the UK one time and cut down their toothbrushes, got freebie toothpaste from the dentists and sent change of stuff ahead by post to really cut the weight. Not my sort of thing.

Euro routes, sure cut corners but if you can use the routes you will save time because there are few obstructions, a few bike shops and businesses etc along the way, plus easy access food/drink etc.

Sustrans are less good but worth just checking out compared to google maps cycle route (I just checked the google route and it uses the Sustrans system for part of the Portsmouth to Stow journey).

Good luck, one day I'll do Girona to St Malo.

Since you hadn't seen the ones I sent you, have the last in the pack http://www.voiesvertes.com/
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Jan 16th, 2019, 05:41 AM
  #13  
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Hi Bilbo

all the planning has got me thinking.

after having lookied at the beautiful architecture of the Medoc and the Loire. I’m beginning to think that maybe my plan isn’t the best.

effectively I’m going to be cycling from Portsmouth to home through the Cotswolds, Birmingham and Shropshire. None of which does much for me but simply to say that I cycled home from Bordeaux, which isn’t reason enough.

I am becoming tempted to go from Bordeaux to Nantes, cycle up the Loire back down the French countryside to the Dordogne and then back to Bordeaux in a week.

Effectively, I’m trading in Britain for France.

what do you think?
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Jan 16th, 2019, 07:22 AM
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I think cycling around France is a great way to go and while their bike routes are not perfect I'd rather be in France than Brum. I don't know (ie experienced) all the cycle paths you are referring to but I know a fair few and all but that one along the Loire are pretty good. Along the Loire they are not bad but they tend towards white lines along a busy road but certainly better than anything in the UK.

So yes, apart from bragging rights, staying in France makes more sense. But you might also look at open jaws. For instance, I've done Nice to Pisa (not recommended), Girona to Toulouse (recommended except in Toulouse), La Rochelle to Bergerac and Bordeaux to Bordeaux (though covering less ground than you propose). In May just about every hotel and almost every B&B will have space if you rock up at night, though at weekends you might need to book the morning before using booking.com though watch out for any national holidays.

The MBG website I sent you gives you an idea of the sort of trips I've done and I always choose a flat easy route but I suspect your knees are younger than mine.

Though you've booked out on Easyjet you can, of course, fly back on another airline and from another airport. How are you protecting your bike? If it is a hard case you're buggered but if it is a cardboard reinforced nylon bag (like mine) you can just throw away the cardboard, roll up the bag and the world is your lobster.

I've just re-read the above and I realise I'm writing in British, goodness knows what our American friends make of this all.
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Jan 16th, 2019, 07:32 AM
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I see that the France Velo map has at least one link broken. You will find that each department's tourist website will have more detail hidden under "velo" somewhere often with routes downloadable. It is worth getting them sorted into maps you can hold on your phone (if I'm mansplaining just ignore me), then use your phone on GPS to keep you on route. I have a few alt apps that work well for that (ask if you want suggestions), but the GPS kills batteries so you soon end up lugging too many "energy stores" with you so use only sparingly.

You've inspired me to bring MBG.co.uk up to date thanks British
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Jan 16th, 2019, 08:53 AM
  #16  
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“bragging rights,”

I’m now not into that. After leaving Uni I was an accountant for years, self conscious, keeping up with everyone, bragging rights were the thing. 15 years ago I started my own business which involves a lot of contact with the public and quite frankly i now don’t give two tosses about bragging rights or what anyone says or thinks. In 15 years I’ve heard it all, people poncing around in Aston Martins then begging me to buy them after 2008 crash for half their worth. I found out they’d remortgaged their houses to buy the car.

You have created a problem in our house though, after your posts about the Medoc and your experiences of cycling in France, I’m changing my mind.

This started out as a mid life, can’t climb Everest so let’s cycle back from Bordeaux. It’s now shaping into a jolly cycle round the vineyards of the Medoc, Loire, Bergerac and Saint Emilion. My wife’s not happy, she could cope with a week of a mid life crisis as long as it didn’t involve blonds or any more sports cars. I think I’m going to have to resell this trip to her as being far safer on the French roads than the British midlands.

The re-plan looks like

Saturday : Margaux
Sunday : La Rochelle
Monday : Nantes
Tuesday : either Nantes to Angers staying at a Chateau in Anger
Or Nantes to St Malo and kipping on the ferry to Portsmouth
Wednesday : either Angers to Niort
or Portsmouth to Stow
Thursday : either Niort to Saint Emilion
Or Stow to Telford
Friday : either Saint Emilion to Arcachon
Or Telford to home in the Friday rush hour : Warrington on a Friday afternoon!
Saturday : either working
Or spending the day eating seafood in Arcachkn with a short ride to the airport for a late afternoon flight back to Liverpool

i was going to use a cardboard box on a one way to Bordeaux and dump it at the airport. A friend has a professional type bike box, I can store this at Bordeaux airport whilst I do the circuit of France.

Goodness, the either/ ors on Friday and Saturday swing it.

I could really do some help with technology, I’ve always been a geographer at heart and rarely take maps when driving or cycling, I’m terrible with technology but can see the absolute use of GPS tracking, apps with altitude mapping etc don’t know where to start.

The local bike shop are talking about new induction dynamos which have no physical contact but power iPhones. No idea!
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Jan 16th, 2019, 10:27 AM
  #17  
J62
 
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Sounds like a great trip!!!

I've done several mini trips like this both in the US & Europe. Each has basically tagged a few days riding onto an existing trip, not a complete excursion. But many of the challenges are the same.

My experience.
Routes:
the best way I've found is to locate a source of online routes you can browse. In the US, that's mapmyride or ridewithgps. This has also worked in Belgium, but I suspect there are more oft used European sites that have more info.. In my experience if enough people ride the same route (or even partial route) you quickly get a good feel what to map yourself. The other option I use is to locate local bike shops (lbs) and/ or riding groups. A lbs will know what routes are/are not rider friendly and may have a listing of local routes on their website.

notes, I was lucky to tag along with a riding group in Belgium on a great 50km am ride one trip - didn't need to think at all about the route & loved the experience. I like to know local bike shops wherever I am regardless, because as you know, @#$#@$ happens. Even something as minor as a missing cleat screw or gear ring screw can mess up a ride, and you can't plan for all of that. Tubes/tires of course you'll have that covered.

Technology:
This is a contining/rapidly evolving field. In my experience riding at home there are 3 or 4 camps.
1. Get the latest garmin phone sized device - better ride specific functionality vs a smart phone, and you don't burn the phone battery down.
2. Use an app on the phone. I know there are some great apps that give turn by turn instructions, auto correct route when you go off course, and you can use existing phone. If you had a way to charge your phone with a dyamo this might be a cool idea. Also have a battery pack backup....
3. Printed turns, phone as backup (my current m.o.) - part of the fun of riding is occasionally getting lost, then pretending it was all part of the plan.
4. Commit to memory. Might have worked for me 30 yrs ago, but no longer.
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Jan 16th, 2019, 11:09 AM
  #18  
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J62

i have an iPhone with a large screen which I can place in the clear lid of the handle bar bag I am buying. I have an old Garmin GPS with a very basic screen but I’m sure that it can connect to the phone, never tried.

Fingers crossed with mechanical issues but in years and years of cycling, I’ve only had a few punctures. I use Gatorskin tyres and make sure the pressure is 100psi every day.

I know some don’t actually clean their 」5000 bikes. Mine is nowhere near that expensive and after 6 years it still looks new.

I’m very naive with phones but do the apps need a phone signal for map updates or are the maps downloads?

i gave up years ago with using an iPhone and google maps in our area when cycling as the signal is so poor. I’ve now done so much cycling in the North of England and Scotland, I just don’t get lost.

France is a different matter!

Can you recommend any apps

thanks
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Jan 16th, 2019, 01:18 PM
  #19  
J62
 
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Good question about the other apps and whether you need data plan to synch to a cloud based map. that would suck in my opinion. I don't know the answer.

A tip i learned with google maps - you can download the offline map for the area ahead of time on a wifi signal, then the gps will compare to the strored map. I do this a lot for hiking and travel to areas where I don't have a data plan. You still get directions and mapping, but you don't get any real time traffic or transit data.

Personally I wear a garmin gps watch to log speed and gps info, but don't use any of the iphone apps. A friend of mine swears by the strava app, but he likes the group virtual competition mode - it shows how others have ridden the same segment, like you see on the video screens at bikes at the gym, but with real data.

There are other bike gps devices besides garmin, including polar and mio. If i were doing this trip I'd probably invest in a bike turn by turn unit that gave me enough info to navigate the route, but didn't cost more than ~200 GBP/USD/EUR. Depends on how confident you are in the routes - I'm used to printing out in large type turn by turn waypoints and taping it to my bike - has worked for me for many long rides. Once you go off course that no longer works of course.

A handful of years ago i gave up on trying to save micro grams with ultralight tires for speed and ending up one season with countless punctures on potholed roads. Finally went back to thicker training tires and have been good since then.
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Jan 19th, 2019, 10:10 AM
  #20  
 
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I'm not into long cycle trips [or even short ones now] but France would beat the UK hands down every time. We did a car tour of this area a few years ago and whereas from a car driver's PoV the relative flatness of much of the scenery is not a plus, from a cyclist's it's ideal.

I therefore can't give you many tips, but depending on which side of the Girone you find yourself at lunchtime, there are nice seafood restaurants in Pauillac and Royan if you don't mind cycling on a full stomach.

I'll be interested to see what you decide to do.
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