I have been boring people with this one for some time. I think I mentioned in an earlier post the general expectation that retirement will inspire great opportunities for personal development. Looking forward to watching more daytime TV will just not cut it as an aspiration.
Whenever I am challenged about my own retirement plans – whether I plan to circumnavigate the Globe on a Hot Air balloon, sail to Madagascar on a raft made of recycled lollypop sticks, climb Mount Everest in speedos, or walk the Machu Picchu trail whilst dragging a refrigerator, my customary response is that my ambitions are modest; I have taken up cycling and plan to go on tours in Europe.
The plan was to start slowly and build up to complete the Velodyssey – the epic 1200 kilometre cycle route down the West Coast of France from Brittany to the border with Spain. A venture such as this requires meticulous planning and intensive training.
So far, I have cycled as far as Waitrose, – about a mile and a half down the road, so I am feeling pretty confident about the next stage.
This will be a proper tour from Dinard in Brittany, down to Rennes; a total distance of about 70 miles – most of it along a disused railway track (at least – I think it is disused) and a river and canal towpath. Should be very bucolic.
I have persuaded Lorna to join me, her pre-conditions being that we sleep in hotels and not hedgerows and that we eat in decent restaurants and not bus shelters. – slightly less edgy than my plan authentique perhaps, but certainly more comfortable.
Some of the hotels en route look a little dodge though, so I hope she is not put off the experience. I booked those that had garages for the bikes and our comfort was a secondary concern. Still, we will probably be dog tired and would sleep anywhere after a good meal and lots of wine.
The whole trip will take about two days of cycling, with a return trip on a train and ferry journeys adding another two to the time away. This means packing for the long weekend and carrying the kit in panniers.
Considering what to pack takes on a whole new significance when you have to lug it around yourself all day.
Being paranoid, my first thought was to load up enough tools to set up a bike repair shop and a first aid kit that would rival any provincial A and E department, but I could barely lift the panniers, and had no room for additional underwear, let alone other clothing. I found this clothing line called Argentum, that, apparently, does not pong even when drenched in perspiration, but Lorna has imposed another condition – that I adhere to civilised standards of hygiene. So I have reduced the first aid kit to some plasters and aspirin and the tool shop to a puncture repair kit and added fresh clothing instead.
Lorna’s first consideration is packing her hair straighteners, but they weigh a ton, and if experience is anything to go by, I bet they will end up in one of my panniers. Will have to watch out for that one.
We will be away the weekend after next, so I shall say à bientôt for now and will see how we get on.