For those interested in something a bit slower than TT’s or Road Racing, pictures from my latest crossing of France ‘Caen to Marseille 2015’ here…Pictures

O.k. – having said I’d do something different this year I reverted to type and did another solo lightweight cycle camping trip from the Channel to the Med on my trusty Specialized Secture Elite with Mavic CXP22 rims and a triple chainset and 30-30 bottom gear.  While this is not a touring bike if you treat it with care and keep the weight to a minimum it does just fine.

The route was a diagonal from Caen to Marseille via Mt Ventoux to bag the last route up I had yet to do.  780.6 miles in 12 days, averaged 65 a day with several 75 milers.Lots of climbing in the southern half through the Auvergne, Houte Loire, Ardeche and Provence, typically 2,000-2,500 m a day.  Then there was Mt Ventoux, up from Malaucene with 20kg of luggage on a day when the weather was grim with gales and thunder storms at the summit. One of my favourite moments was the shout from a descending rider when he saw the panniers etc of ‘Holy s*it look at all his gear!’  

The trip was done on a pretty tight budget – Ferry Portsmouth to Caen £29, Flight with Easyjet back from Marseille £85 for me, bike and hold luggage for the panniers.  Stayed mainly on Municipal campsites which were all good and cost 4.50-9 euros a night. To keep the cost down 8 evening meals were dried expedition food (‘BeWell’ make ) which are actually pretty good but probably not enough as I still managed to lose nearly half a stone.
Not one puncture or bike issue.  The tent pole broke early on which was a pain having to fix it each night with cable ties and duct tape and this led to two nights of a flooded tent at the end of the trip as thunderstorms battered the tent for hours on end near Marseille.  Another trouble free experience flying with the bike packing it in the large clear bag that doubled as a groundsheet for the trip.  I may just be lucky but I’ve flown like this10 times now and not had any bike damage – yet!