In the second part of his series, Kris Goodbody cycles from France to Spain on his two-wheeled way to Greece
I have firmly decided that cycling is the finest form of travel there is – it’s the best way to engage with the landscape. Most forms of transport involve looking out a window of a stuffy car, train or plane, cut off from the smells, the sensation of the wind, even the rain. Looking out the window might as well be looking at it all on television. These are the thoughts that were running through my head, cycling through Normandy’s farmland breadbasket, heading for Paris on the longest day of the year.
“Looking for somewhere to camp and drink some well-earned rum, when suddenly the ocean was just… sort of… there”
We passed the first night in an abandoned fort of some kind; waking up with a face covered in spiders, with corn fields as our bathroom, was to set the scene for the rest of the trip. A few days passed and the kilometres rolled by. Eventually we found ourselves looking at the twisted arteries of roads leading into the city of Paris. In a judgement made with a lethal cocktail of stupidity and fatigue, we decided that the best route into this bustling metropolis would be via the four-lane-wide motorway. This resulted in us, for the first time on the trip, being faced with the possibility of imminent death. A decidedly grim yet exhilarating few hours passed and we arrived, exhausted, into the centre of Paris.
At this point we had to take a train to the coast, due to time constraints, before alighting on a punishing three-day cycle to the coast. Our first encounter with the Atlantic was emotional. We found ourselves in a dense pine forest at twilight. Looking for somewhere to camp and drink some well-earned rum, when suddenly the ocean was just… sort of… there. With no further communication we stripped down and made for the cold water, and I was content.
Again we set off towards our Athens-shaped holy grail, through to Biarritz. Here we met some great people, whom we would keep encountering all the way to Barcelona. We surfed and drank too much, and then set off on our way over the boarder to San Sebastian. With a stomach full of wine and rum, and the constant puking, some of the majesty of crossing our first land border was somewhat lost. Yet through the terrible fog of one of the worst hangovers of my life, some dull feeling of accomplishment did resonate, and even in the grips of ‘the fear’ I did manage to look forward to the Spanish leg, which I was fairly certain was going to be the hardest challenge so far.
Catch up with Kris in Spain in our next issue on 10th November