London to South of France this summer...

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  • Hi all, so i am taking 3 weeks this summer to Cycle from London to the south of france, tent on the back, change of clothes and my surfboard on a rack on the side...Lovely!

    I would love to do it on a fixed wheel but i just somehow thing that i'm going to have to go back to gears and brakes..? Any thoughts? Anyone done big tours on a fixed wheel?

  • What route are you taking? The centre-South of France is a little mountainous.

  • Would be hugging the west coast as much as possible to get use out of the surfboard i'm dragging with me...

  • i'm thinking about doing some touring this summer too, possibly coming back from bilbao or to eastern europe, thinking of flip flop hub, fixed/free mercx style? any suggestions on ratios?

  • I have done a couple of tours in France, one from Calais to Basel, and another starting in Dieppe and making a 1400k circle down to the Loire, heading west and then back along the coast to Dieppe.

    I think you would be ill-advised to ride fixed (unless you are really experienced - which case you prob wouldn't be asking).

    France is not flat - apart from the Plat de Crau (way in the South) - always hilly. Brittany is particularly hill, and even Picardy is not really flat.

  • Sounds like a nice tour!

  • Alright then gears it is. Its going to feel sllooww going back to gears, brakes, lugage racks..... sigh...

  • I did London to Paris without a map last summer, just jumped on my bike a just went where I felt going. At the end of each day found a campsite and pitched up my 1-man tent. Definately the best way to do it - no chance of getting lost if you don't know where you are going in the first place!

  • Did you do it with gears Ben?

  • Yup! Had yet to be converted to fixed at that point, however I bought my Langster of a friend a fortnight after I got back.

    You will definately need gears. Some of those hills are nasty, and you won't be able freewheel on the downhills (at one point after what seemed like 3 hours of uphill, I finally hit the top and looked out over a HUGE valley with a ?mile? long downhill. I hit 46mph).

  • I did a journey down to Bordeaux last summer to visit friends. Brilliant trip, did it geared though. Fixed would mean walking quite a few uphills There is a French cycling group called the etoilistes or something like that giving great routes down through France. I went down to Portsmouth then ferry to St Malo and then all down the west coast rucksack on my back hot sweaty but it was only a small one though so it wasn't to bad on the shoulders. 5 days about 100 miles a day.
    Check out the Dordogne and all the picture postcard perfect villages along the river and the cycling in Les Landes is great dedicated cycleways through beautiful forest Cap Ferere and Arcachon ( biggest sand dune in europe ) all very nice for cycling. The French are a nation of cyclist too they are very friendly hellos all the way friendly waves from people in their front yards and car drivers are courtious towards you waving you on making room very different to London

  • Oh boy, now i'm all excited!!! 100 miles a day is pretty solid. We are planning to head out there end of August into September so the worst/best of the heat will be going by then.

    Any maps or links to this french cycling group?

  • I had a quick search but couldn't find it maybe spelling was wrong or something. They have a scheme whereby you have to do certain routes in a certain amount of time getting stamps from local cycle shops etc along the way If you do the route in the set time you get something, kind of like belts in martial arts the etoiliste is french for star .... something and the routes form a star across france once you have done all routes you can call yourself an offial etoiliste the times and distances are pretty hard some involve night cycling to finish the route in time. i didn't do that by the way just did it at my own pace i'll search some more for links but then there is a map shop in covent garden that has a very good range of cycle maps of the whole of france in great detail, my michellin map of france was a bit large scale for some of the more out of the way places but gave me a general idea.

  • Have you made a rack for the surf board yet or are you goin to do the xtracycle thing? I have seen some pics with guys with surf boards on xtracyles. Cross winds may be hard. I have done a surfing trip through France camping with two mates but we drove (three weeks like you). I would be cautious about trying to get to the south of France and surf in three weeks though. Have you considered hiring your surf boards? I know they tend to be crap boards but it may be easier then lugging your boards all that way on a bike and trying to do a surfing trip in three weeks. Dose sound like a wicked trip though. Chance to combine two fun sports.

  • Ya i've got a rack i bought in Vancouver Island, the board fits alongside the bike, making the bike another 2 foot wider. Only worry will be those 40mph downhill sections i think!

    Have considered hiring but when we arrive at perfect hollow 6 foot beach breaks I dont want to be paddling out on a plastic minimal and also... its a giggle isn't it!

  • Good luck. I would be interested to hear how the trip gose and to see any pictures so please post a mini blog or or something. I have had a design in my head for a method of toeing my BMX (frount wheel removed style) and have been playing with the idea of doing a tour for a week or so this summer camping and taking in a few skate parks accros the south of the U.K. I like the idea of using a bike as the means of transport for another sport.( I know a BMX is a bike as well but not one to tour on.)

  • p.s Hossegor has really hollow waves. I never surfed that beach it was a bit too heavy for me when I was there. I have not been surfing for about two years, such a shame, I was never any good but just a nice ride on a peeling wave is one of the best things. Shame London is so far away from the surf, plus time. Maybe soon.

    +post some pictures of the rack you have.

  • pps. Photo copy the French pages from the storm rider guide. It is a good guide to get you started of places. I have a a copy but it is at my parents house at the moment.

  • I've spent many summers in a van down in the south of France with the stormrider as my bible so I have a whole heap of remote surf/camping spots in mind to take the bike! :D How long is it until August? gah

  • Cool man. If I had the time I would love to tag along even though my surfing skills are a bit shit.

  • Plenty of space for you if any time crops up!

  • If you're doing 150+k most days, I recommend the AA Touring Map. It's pretty clear at 1:180 000, and has enough detail that you can find the quiet roads, but it's big enough that you're not carrying around a whole book for a 1000k trip.

    There are various Michelin scales and shapes, with the famous chevrons 1 = hill, 2 = steep, 3 = get off and walk unless you got a granny gear, but I found them too small or too big and way too flimsy. Which is a shame, cos I love the old 2 series maps 1:200 000 covering whole regions.

    I would definitely get a klickfix map holder as well. I started using one for Audax and did my 2005 tour using one. Last year I left it behind and REALLY missed it. Brilliant bit of kit that will fit on OS stems as well.

    Cycling in France really spoils you for the UK. After riding nice smooth empty roads through beautiful scenery, it's pretty grotty coming back to crap busy roads through Essex.

  • Lose the map! just go with the flow and see where it takes you!

    Nah, only joking. If you're going that distance pretty sensible to know where you are going.

  • Anyway WTF am I posting about map-holders on a fixie forum. Whoops! There goes what little remained of my street-cred.

  • Screw the map, pimp your ride with GPS and a playstation for those long straight roads, all runnng off of a dyno hub!

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London to South of France this summer...

Posted by Avatar for ChrisW @ChrisW