Friday 2nd June
Day 21 (17 cycling)
Mimizan Plage to Messanges: 64km
255m Climbed 3hr 12′
Total Distance 971km
It is great having a support crew. Every time I pass an individual or a couple doing the trip unsupported, with panniers fore and aft and then more bags strapped on the top, I remember that I am really lucky to have Wendy and am very grateful to her (you wouldn’t believe the bunches of flowers I have bought her mentally over the last three weeks!) for the support that she has given me on this indulgence. Last night Andy and Lesley stepped into the role too, providing us with beers and a slap-up meal (that is two more bunches). We then went for a walk around ‘Bisca’ as the locals clearly know it, given the prevalence of its usage in shop and restaurant names. At this time of year we were able to take the dogs on the beach to enjoy the surf and then toured the town looking for a crêperie. A couple of hours earlier when W, L & A had cycled around the town it was really busy – now it was shut! Will we ever have a crêpe again on this trip?
Even though it was shut we still enjoyed reminiscing about our visit to Biscarosse Plage two years ago, when Holly arranged a villa for us to stay in with Katy, Anthony and his mother, when they came over for a visit to the more cultured Northern Hemisphere.
The more astute of our readers will have noted that yesterday’s section ended at Biscarosse Plage and today’s has started at Mimizan Plage. “What happened?” I hear you cry. At Bisca the Velodyssee has to make a detour inland because the forest and coast south of the town are a military zone. I knew the route inland to Parentis from earlier visits and it is flat, runs alongside the road all the way in and all the way out again and is pretty unremarkable. So at the management Strategic Oversight Committee meeting last night it was decided that we would jump to Mimizan Plage and begin today’s section from there. This also gave us the advantage of being more realistically able to reach Hendaye on Sunday.
After we said our tearful goodbyes to Andy and Lesley (they were heading back to Le Tedey for a spot of kite surfing – we won’t see them now until Sunday!) we set off for Mimizan Plage. Mimizan is the furthest south in France Wendy and I have been. We went 28 years ago. Wendy’s brother, Pete, had been the year before and recommended it to us. We had a great time. Holly was 20 months old and it was a very hot fortnight. Both she and I had siestas every afternoon.
Wendy dropped me off very close to the trail and it was quickly apparent that today I was in for a treat. The overcast skies had cleared, the temperature was in the mid 20s and the trail was smooth tarmac all the way (I am aware that, amateurish as I am, I have earlier in this ‘blog used flat when I meant smooth – sorry, I will try not to do so again) to Contis Plage. The only drawback, and I am being picky here, was that there were lots of straight sections along broad avenues carved through the pine forests. The people of the Landes have rally got their cycle routes sorted. They are well-laid and extremely well sign posted. Today’s sections were the best of the whole route for signage. I could have done it with out any other navigational aids.
This continued for the Contis to Leon section, though soon the trail left the broad avenues and dived into broadleaf woodland and became all the better for being more twisty and turny. I stopped at Veille for a late lunch with only a third of the distance to cover. From Veille all the way to Messanges was along the route of another old railway line through the forest. It was so enjoyable I missed my turn and ended up in Vieux Boucau les Bains and had to ride back to the campsite. This evening we are camping at Camping á la Côte that Wendy describes it as ‘a sweet little campsite’.
After a three days on familiar sections of the Velodyssee it was good to be discovering some new territory; and while today’s sections are not as good as yesterday’s they still take some beating and are well worth riding in their own right.
And so ends my third week on the bike. It turns out that I have smashed yesterday’s best time for 40k by over nine minutes and set a new all time highest daily average speed. I must be getting used to this?
Tomorrow we head for St Jean de Luz. It is an 80km day to put us in touching distance of Hendaye Plage; with a bit of luck.