500 km in 6 days…

It’s just over one week since we spent our last morning in the UK, frantically tying up all the loose ends, running from bike shops to banks and everywhere in between. It all sort-of came together by lunchtime when friends and family gave us a beautiful send off (involving industrial quantities of tea and bacon sarnies). It was an emotional goodbye but one of excitement as we headed towards Portsmouth Harbour, only a 40 mile cycle from my family’s home.


We cruised happily towards the ferry port averaging a good pace and mapless on a route I have driven many times. As we followed the A3 the road became increasingly busy and the space at the side of the road looked more and more like a hard shoulder. I’ll be honest that this concerned me, a hard shoulder surely meant we were cycling on a motorway? This thought occurred to me about 5 mins before the highway authority and police pulled us over. Smiling sweetly we apologised and pleaded total (and honest) ignorance, which seemed to be enough. They were great and escorted us on a new route, they were also highly amused that we were planning to cycle to Mali, I guess we probably didn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence at that early stage in our journey…

We safely made it to the ferry and relaxed for the very comfortable 10 1/2 hour journey to St Malo. Arriving first thing in the morning we began a fairly heavy day cycling with Pete, a cyclist we met on the ferry. Following the path of the beautifully picturesque Ille Rance Canal (bound for Rennes) Pete helped to support a good pace and put our posterior resistance to shame (Imran and I felt compelled to take regular ‘bum breaks’). Around 100km later as we pumped filthy water from the canal with Pete watching, concerned for the welfare of our guts, we seemed to be warming to our new lifestyle; then of course, 8 hours later we faced a cold morning (after little sleep because of the low temperature), and a heavy dew that had fallen on our tent, panniers, shoes and just about everywhere else.

Misty Dew

Surprisingly it was Imran who stirred to the sound of the alarm and boldly trod where he had never walked before… getting up before me. He then proceeded to encourage me out of bed, simple amazement at this stage was enough to get me up and before I could even feel my toes again we were off on a slightly kinder 60km day of cycling. Reaching Guipry (Brittany) by mid afternoon we decided to call it a day at the sight of a campsite. We faced another cold and pretty sleepless night driving us to the decision to invest in a blanket from the nearest SuperU. Whilst heavy it provided some warmth and the following night was a little toastier, but we still woke up at about 1 am shivering and waiting for the sun to come up. Thus by the time we reached Machecoul it seemed a treat was due and we spent out a very worthwhile 20 euros on a caravan for the night… the luxury was beyond all human conception, despite its 1960s decor (which I like to think was retro-vintage).

An old Mill

In spite of me dragging my heels, we made good progress the next day and cycled another 90 km to reach La Rochelle- bringing our total distance covered to 500 km in 6 days, a proud achievement for both of us. By the time we got to Bordeaux and Polo (a musician friend of Imrans) we were seriously grateful for the hot shower and warm bed so kindly sacrificed by Polo. A few days of rest has been just what we needed, tomorrow we will head towards Toulouse with an aim to reach Sète by Friday when a 36 hour ferry journey will take us across the Mediterranean to Tangier, Morocco, leaving Europe behind us for a year and welcoming a new, warmer leg of our journey, the bridge between the Desert and Europe, our climatic transition.

Home Sweet Home


21 responses to “500 km in 6 days…

  1. Hilary franklin

    Hi Mik and Imran
    wow how well are you both doing !! Love reading your diary and the photos are superb .What an adventure and I am full of admiration for you both .Keep going and good luck will await the next installment with anticipation. Xxxx

  2. Hello beautiful people.

    Your first post is well written, interesting and most importantly reasurringly positive. So glad to hear you are already embarked upon a real journey of discovery. Also very impressed by distance covered so far.

    I love you both dearly. So proud to say my friends are doing this And more proud to be able to report they are being successful.

    Keep going, keep supporting each other. Thinking/talking about you daily (no lie!).

    Love always

    James x

  3. Carol Anne Malleson

    We are loving the updates – we are all in awe of the progress you are making and the journey ahead. Love and hugs
    The Mallys

  4. Hi guys
    Well done, and great that you got some R+R chez Pol… So you decided against Spain after all… (it looked like you were heading due south rather than SE), anyhow give the legs a break on that long ferry ride. Good thing yr pants are baggy to accommodate expanding thigh muscles! Will Sete be yr next blog update?
    love and take care

    • Thanks mum! We got pushed in the direction of a FLAT route to Barcelona that goes nowhere near the Pyrenees, and with the promise of a flat to stay in along the way, we may end up opting for Spain! x

  5. Waow!
    Es increible poder leer esta aventura!
    Siguan contando! Que tengan un buen viaje chicos!

  6. Fantastic…well done you guys. Lovely pictures, almost makes me want to get up earlier to see what I’m missing,
    but not quite, the interior sprung, posture foam mattress is hard to leave behind!! [remember those?] Keep going guys we are all cheering you on.
    John H.

  7. Hey Imran, I saw you zipping by the other day – didn’t realise you were in serious training. I’m impressed by the photo of the guitar – did that make it into your pannier??! Anyway, all best wishes for a great adventure – what an absolutely amazing thing to do! x Zoe.

    • Hi Zoe!

      That may have seemed like training but I was probably just frantically trying to tie some of the many many loose ends… Our training didn’t start til we got to France! And yeah I managed to adapt the guitar into a pannier! One of my proudest achievements! If you want to do it for your violin it can be quite easily done, you can buy most of the parts online.

      Take care! x

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  9. And here I am sitting on my lazy ass. But I have been laying very heavy paving stones so I ache in a different place. So sorry to have missed your departure – I needed a laugh. – Congratulations on your determination and the log is wonderful. Your next challenge will be the M4 on a Friday – LOL Doug

  10. Salomé Verhoestraete

    This is… so cool!!!!

    I really hope you two can keep updating this blog throughout the whole trip, j’ai pris plein de plaisir à lire le début de votre aventure! ♥

    Can’t wait to see more photos! take care you two!


  11. Hello – sorry to have missed you before you left. You are on a great adventure, and it makes really good reading. Can’t wait for the next episode..

    lots of love

    (dj’s mum)

  12. This is amazing guys… Well done. Keep the great updates coming!

    When Flick and I are sipping our cocktails on the Kenyan coast, we often think about the two of you sweating your bums off. Love you loads… and we’ll toast this afternoon’s mojito to you both 🙂

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