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Day 5, Arrivee Cote Atlantique

Meteo France were predicting rain all day. I managed to find Windguru were only predicting thick cloud so I went for that.

Left the hotel at 8.30am with the rain gear packed away. The drizzle hit as I cycled out of the car park. This must just be temporary, Windguru said so. I couldn't be arsed to unpack the rain gear and just pressed on in hope. It did change. The wind built to a full on headwind, so now I've got horizontal drizzle.

Very quickly I had a new problem. Glasses now covered in drizzle, can't see where I'm going. Tried taking them off but that meant google became a blur. Which was the least worst, having a crash or going the wrong way. As someone who can be known for analysis paralysis, I realised I'd need to think about this for a few hours.

An hour has now passed and the results of a massive hydration exercise involving drinking gallons is having an effect. I need a pee stop. Now in Dorset this is usually straight forward. You need somewhere fairly discrete with a suitable post to lean the bike against, while you attend to business. In most cases the gate in to a field provides the solution. Here there are no gates, just openings. What is going on? Are there no travellers required to be kept out. Have the animals learnt to open and close them making them redundant? Are the locals nicking them for scrap metal. When there is a post, road sign etc, it looks good from afar, but as you get close and slow down, there is always a ditch between you and it. With a bike this heavy, if you lay it down, it's not coming back up. So looking for a pee stop takes a long time. Finally success. .

I apply the positive attitude by deciding to take the glasses off. I can just make out a faint blue line which I now know means I'm on track. Naked eyes feels really weird. I can see the world but it's not clear, like I'm disconnected, an uneasy feeling. A bit like travelling in a car without a seatbelt on. Or not having underpants on under your trousers because they haven't dried out yet from before. There's a sense something bad is about to happen. One of my earliest childhood memories in of the latter after going swimming in my underpants. Putting on the trousers involved a zip and at that point there was a life changing experience. I can't imagine the pain of childbirth comes close.

After two hours and 40km I'm cycling through Nantes in driving drizzle. I think it would be beautiful in the sunshine. The river Loire runs through it and crews were out rowing their eights, loads of young people running beside the river. I think it must be a university city, had that feel. Just one problem, I shouldn't have been here. I chose a route to bypass Nantes to the NE so I could take a ferry across the river and give me a shorter route. I doubled checked all of this before selecting START. It's bloody changed the route on me.

I decide I need to stop and have a coffee. I see a great looking cafe with lots of tables outside in the city centre. But I then realise only the tables right by the windows are protected by the awnings and they're all occupied. Damn, there'll be others - there weren't.

Google is then taking me around all sorts of dodgy places. I'm almost at a new low when there's a sight to lift the spirits. It's a Mac!

Try the entrance door. Locked. Interesting. The lights are on, so must be open. Walk round to the exit door. Big sign saying this is exit, don't come in, use the entrance door. I play the Anglais card and walk in. Just order a large coffee to raise core temperature. As I'm standing there waiting for it, a trickle of French arrive. Find the entrance door locked, look in, see me and put on that look, can you save us? I leap into superman mode and point to the exit door. They walk round, read the sign and look at me again. I've become the master of ceremonies.

There's a sign in the place saying Mac are recruiting staff. I decide if the rain gets worse I'll probably take the job. There's a continual conversation once the people get in where I smugly explain Mac have introduced a new policy to raise the standard of their clientele. If you can't get past the entry test, you don't deserve to eat. Will increase the quality of the gene pool.

Another hour later and still over 20km to go. The threat of bonking is rearing its head, sadly there's nowhere available until I get to Pornic. I've learnt some lessons. Don't give google the chance to change your route. I think the solution is to have lots of intermediate stops, such as the ferry, so it forces google to take you there. Also, I need to identify coffee and lunch stops when I route plan and again make them intermediate stops. The other thing about this route from north to south coasts is that it's largely rolling countryside. That might sound attractive but it's a disaster. On distance, you spend half your time going uphill. As you're then going a lot slower, the vast majority of the time overall is spent going uphill. A-level maths might help with the understanding. Add in the drizzle blast headwind and it's becoming miserable. Resort to continuous green power. If the battery runs out I'll ring 112. It's also weird that whilst its up and down, there's a definite average long distance up. Bit like the stock market in the bull years. But how can this be, I'm heading for the coast - it must go down at some point and it's then going to be bloody steep.

If batteries were liquid I'd be arriving on vapour. The drizzle gets even stronger. Too early to check in, so I cycle round the harbour.

Pornic is a stunning place if you like yachty places, but in the drizzle it doesn't look its best. It's 2.30pm and I've missed the midday restaurant opening - termine, desole - so had to go with a more basic fuel up. But it did include a fruit tart. Becoming a staple on this trip. Then back to the hotel to check in, hot shower, room heating on full blast and the aroma of a Turkish bath with all the wet kit steaming. Nice.

Check the weather forecast for the days ahead and there's hope......

Today's ride 93km

Total so far 430km


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