Friday, August 31, 2012

Day 1 - Canterbury to Guines

71 kms including the ferry crossing

Famous last words
Maeve: "It's only 25 kms, I'll make Dover in two hours max!".
I left the Cathedral at 09:15 on the toll of the clock and immediately got confused about the way to go. Maeve to the rescue. Started so well whizzing down country lanes and byways then I hit the tracks and fields. It's tough going. Cycling in recently cut wheat stubble, mud, long grass, stony paths. Average speed about 3kms per hour. After 2 hours I was in Woolage all of 3 miles from Canterbury fixing my first puncture. Maeve to the rescue she found me, gave me water and fruit and insisted she did not want to see me again until I finish. "Now you go boy!" I think were her words. Simisha you'll be pleased to hear that after slogging for another 2.5 hours through dense undergrowth I stopped in Guston, found a cosy spot by the road and had a nap! Little did I know that Dover was a mere 10 min downhill ride from there! On the ferry 5 hours after leaving Dover.

I fell my gat off
In Calais, the centre of the town, in front of evening revellers and a queue for the bus. Hit a curb while trying to navigate and went head over heels onto the concrete. Rolled like a pro (so that parachute training paid off at last).  I  only grazed a knee but severely damaged my pride!  Nuff said I'm fine.

Navigation Calais to Guines
Very very difficult. Cannot find my way while trying to ride with a guide book in my hand. Also it refers to street names but the French keep them secret - you have to be born in the city. The route was beautiful though, all along the canals. Then disaster! I realised my guide book had fallen from my pack where I was keeping it handy for quick reference. That's my route map for the next 12 days until I get to Besancon. A rapid turnaround ensued with much discussion with guardian angels about my behaviour if they helped me find the book.   About 3 kms back I found it in a gutter. "Never mind, guardian angels", I said, " I found it myself" :-)
With all the trials and tribulations, getting lost many times and backtracking I finally made it to Guines a the sun was setting around 20:00.

  • Find campsite
  • Check in
  • Pitch tent
  • Have very cool shower
  • Wash laundry
  • Eat Oatso easy and 3 enerjellies
  • Fall asleep to the sound of rain falling on my washing hanging out to dry and shotgun blasts as the locals sort out their dinner
  • Wake up in middle of night being attacked by the demons of the river I'm camped by. Big hairy things, spirit monsters really, biting my hands, feet, calfs, thighs, hamstring, they're clever, it feels just like cramp but I'm sure it's demons
  • Wake up in the morning to the sound of rain falling on my washing I've hung out to dry and shotgun blasts as the locals sort out their breakfast.
  • But hey...who said it would be a walk in the park?

To sum up day one....Via Francigena  10  Elred 2
But it was a great day


  1. OMG!!! After all that do you want to continue.....

  2. Mom would have asked Saint Anthony for help finding stuff :-)