Now this is what I’m talking about… and a considerable amount more!!

Day 14

Notre-Dame-de-Monts – La Chume

Like sleeping in Blackpool. Hen party howls and football chants bashing the sides of my tent every time the winds push them my way. Don’t get the impression I was kipping in a KFC doorway, my spot for the night was beautiful and finding it was a synch – after arriving at a never ending beach the previous day it was a single push off that got me there. Just one single slice of foot power and roll, coast, coast, coast, meander in and out of the holiday makers, coast some more and, oh… looky what we have here! It was a picnic area and children’s play park nestled in a pine forest that someone had doused with sand to form walkways and hidden areas where the locals can rest and, from the looks of the left over parafinalia scattered all over the floor, smoke a lot of weed in privacy.
This concerned me a little but I weighed up the benefits of privacy vs a ruck with a load of stoners and felt pretty safe. I mean, what’s the worst they could do? Contemplate the universe outta me?

Cooking was the first thing on the agenda. No necessity seeing as I’d taken snack stops at every reasonably priced supermarket on the route there, but it’s just part of the routine now. But, tonight, I needed to break the reoccurring menu of chorizo and pepper baguettes as the gas emanating from my backside is starting to have a profound effect on the colour of my tent. Pans out and on the stove, I break up a ball mozzarella, add a little pepper and half a round of chorizo. Hey, variety is the spice! Oh, wait a minute, smells like that’s the chorizo again.

Damn!! Looks like I’ve got company. My right foot is covered in ants. Upon lifting it I realise I’ve set up shop on top of a small nest so l remove the pans from the stove and place its scalding base on top of the nest. “Well that was a little out of line” I mumble to myself in shame. Why don’t I do a proper job of this by rubbing some of the soot on my top lip first. Disgraceful. I move a few meters and carry on with the new menu, doing a good job of temporarily forgetting my genocidal actions in the process.

With the aid of ear plugs and impromptu layers, I sleep well through the cold early hours and, somehow, manage a decent nights kip, a lay in even!
It’s 8:39 when I rise from my uncomfortable slumber. Time to get cracking! Pack up is a slow process due to the condensation on the inside of my tent but I have a routine for this now too and I’m back on the road an hour later.

Quick vlog update to the masses… or mass… or just my friends… or maybe it’s just my mother that’s racking up the 500 hits a day on my site (God only knows who else it is, I really don’t know that many people!) and I’m off at full whack, giving it that proper athletes push to try and convince the onlookers that I’m some kind of, er, proper athlete. My left calf is starting to look that way anyway so I thought it best to get the rest of me matching in some way. This morning I have power! I have rest and calories to burn. I have a never ending ocean to my right and a safe, clear, smooth and flat cycle path under my mammoth Flywheels. I, finally, have the spirit I assumed would be with me from day one blasting me along, increasing my average speed by 30+% and now, a ridiculous grin on my face.
The strain of my backpack is gone!
This is.. this is perfect!

I fly on at a dangerous pace. Dangerous to me, dangerous to everyone else but I don’t care as a carve gracefully between the dog walkers, breaking the attention of the benched crossword puzzlers but long out of sight by the time they raise their heads. Time for some tunes! My beloved Guy Garvey and his live Elbow orchestra it is, finding it impossible not to sing along to his dulcet tones as of the French don’t know what singing is. Sod it! Everyone looks at me like I’m a loon anyway. Maybe I am! I press on harder than ever leaving the resort behind me but still enjoying the blissful pathway.

Back out into the road, I’m overtaking every cyclist bar the Lycra clad hardcore on their trillion dollar machines. Surprised looks of amazement hitting my bright orange crash hat and reflecting down to my board as if they’re expecting to see an engine. Kids hopelessly trying to keep up with me offering a brief moment of companionship. They’re either loving the board or my full vocal singing. Pretty sure it was the board!

Small resorts and towns pass one after another as I draw to the end of the Elbow playlist and rain breaks. A refreshing experience to me but not my flat left sole. Manhole covers and bitumen road joins cause me to drift a very noticeable millimetre and remind of the amount of times I came off my motorbike as a kid so I find shelter and take a break to snack down and check the map. Hold on! That can’t be right! Surely not! Have I really done 28.4km already? But I only started an hour and 40 mins ago! I check again, and again. Shitting heck! I bloody well have as well!
Putting a shout out to the masse… er, I mean, my mum. I notice the rain has subsided and the warm, smooth Tarmac has dried the ground in an instant. Time to press on again, I’ve still got most of the day ahead of me and this isn’t the time for Mr Garvey! Shuffle! Let’s see what gems it crops up with.

A couple more towns and I’m now right on the shoreside. The perfectly flat pathway is now akin to sand dunes, down, up a bit, down a hell of a lot and straight back up. A vision of glass moguls – the pathway of my dreams!!! Fierce breakbeat blasting my eardrums and furling the adrenalin, I’m bombing it like I’ve got no backpack at all. Full speed! 25mph for 15 seconds and then back up a dune slowing me back to pushing requirement – longboard heaven and nothing short. “Elated” isn’t a word that does justice, ecstatic maybe! Overjoyed, the list goes on. I’ve simply never skated this way in my life, not when I’ve been awake anyway. I can’t get enough! I can’t bring myself to stop for water and I don’t care if I pass out from dehydration, it’d be worth it!

The pathway comes to an end which would have been a grave disappointment if it weren’t for the expansive and completely empty beach only meters to my right. I take a sniff of my pits like there was even a slight chance that I didn’t need to bath, slip off my shoes which was pretty easy from the amount of lubricant my socks were sporting and heave my way through the sand experiencing a distinct reminder of the huge weight of my back as each step buries me to the ankle. Checking over my shoulder to see if the coast was clear (very appropriately written – quite pleased with that one) I get down to my birthday suit and head into the bitterly cold and quite rough ocean waves in search of refreshment. I scrub myself with a microfibre, wounds stinging like mad until I can no longer bare the temperature, head back to dry land and towel off with something no bigger than a loin cloth.

Well, sweat free I may now be but the salt itches and I hit the road once again harbouring my first sense of disappointment of the day but I’m not going to let that make a dent in my enjoyment.

I’m now back out on the highway. A quite one but a highway none the less. Fortunately, the motorists here are used to slowing down for cyclists and my high viz and road manners are way more than the packs of bicycles offer. But the tunes have to finish for a matter of safety.

The roads are still great though! A little more altitude than the shore but offering long and easy declines that offer the first opportunity to get into the typical tick position you see longboarders adopting for aerodynamics. A couple more towns, then a couple more.
I see a sign for a cheap supermarket 3 mins away and 5 mins later (bare in mind that that 3 min guestimate was for car drivers) I’m picking up my board an contemplating if I can bring myself to stay off the chorizo for one night.

I stock up, proudly raising the spend for that evenings meal from €3.50 to a lavish €4.86 to celebrate the best days skating in my life and take s seat to check the map.
I almost shit my pants! I slap myself! No.. fucking… way!!! Get outta town!! Shut the front door!! Please leave the washrooms in the way you wish to find them!!!!


1 Comment

  1. What an achievement. I bet you could hardly believe it.


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