June 7, 2016, Part 1:
Today we left the youth hostel at Boulogne-sur-Mer with sunshine – weak and hazy, but sunshine nonetheless! And because the hostel provided free breakfast, we were able to get out by 9:15 am! After two days of rest, we felt really strong. For the first time, my loaded bicycle wasn’t a gargantuan, unwieldy beast. I felt almost nimble maneuvering it around potholes, up and down the ubiquitous short curbs, or making sudden stops. We both felt like we were finally in shape for this. Even my butt barely hurt when I first sat in the saddle!
We rode north out of Boulogne-sur-Mer along the coastline. Mark gave the TI office the finger as we rode past, and then we promptly forgot about our bad experience. We had our first short climb of the day on the north side of town, riding up the bluff along the coastline. Riding out of town, we saw people out on the beach enjoying the rare rays of sunshine. It felt so good to be rested, and dry, and to have the warmth of the sun on us.
The rest and good weather completely changed our dispositions. We actually felt playful and adventurous, rather than trying to get the day’s ride done with as little discomfort as possible. We stopped numerous times throughout the day to take photos, or to look at things, or to just bask in the weak sun. Hey, sun is sun!
The village just north of Boulogne, Wimereux, was a lively little town, with the first outdoor market we’ve seen since arriving. I’m sure that if we’d ridden through Wimereux on one of our rainy days, it wouldn’t have even registered. Today, however, we saw people out and about, engaged in daily life: shopping, out for a run on the coastline, peddling their wares at the market, waiting for a bus, briskly walking to work, and all the other mundane things people do on a daily basis. It was so heartwarming to see people again!
Shortly after Wimereux, I noticed a sign for the EuroVelo 4 route. (EuroVelo routes are a series of long distance cycle routes that the EU is slowly creating. There are about 15 routes in various stages of development.)
The new navigation system we were experimenting with today (Strava) directed us to continue on the main two-lane road just inland of the coastline. The EuroVelo sign, however, made a sharp turn towards the ocean, behind a gate that barred cars but not pedestrians or cyclists.
On another day, we wouldn’t have had the heart to give this a try. Today, we were both enjoying ourselves so much that we agreed to throw the planned route out the window and follow the EuroVelo signs instead.
The route was easy to follow at first. The private road took us down to the beach, to Fort Mahon (aka Fort Ambleteuse in French). The main gates were open, so we were able to enter the fortification walls, but the building itself was closed.
After checking out the fort for a few minutes, we continued following the EuroVelo course. Shortly out of town, the signs abruptly disappeared. Switching to the GPS for navigation, we continued north, but as we swung a bit more inland, it became obvious that we’d lost the Velo route. No matter. We were still having fun.
We were rolling up and down hills all day as our path took us down to sea level and back up onto the bluffs. At one point, no longer on any established route (either the Velo route or Strava’s recommended route), but always continuing in a northerly direction, Mark spied a big “MUSEE” sign (‘museum’) on the side of a ginormous bunker. He had wanted to explore WWII history since arriving in Europe, so we took a detour to the museum.
I waited outside, stretching my tired muscles and watching the bikes while Mark paid and went in. After his quick tour of the museum, we continued into the next town, Audinghen, and stopped for the plat du jour at a nice restaurant there. I had the most delectable fish and Mark had pork. We enjoyed sides of steamed potatoes and sautéed endive, and ended the meal with a coffee each. It was delicious! And as an added bonus, we sat inside, out of the wind, and thoroughly enjoyed our inexpensive lunch (only €12.80/each).
10 thoughts on “Our Best Day Yet, Part 1”
What a difference a little sun makes! Sounds like you had a wonderful day and a super lunch as well! I finished my ginormous hike and am in southern France where the sun not only shines daily, but it’s downright hot. Although Provence is beautiful, we’re not on the beach, which must be wonderful. So glad you are having so much fun after slogging through wet and dreary streets. Love hearing about your adventure!!
Hot…what a concept! We’re in the Netherlands at the moment, and we’ve had some warmth, but I wouldn’t call it ‘hot.’ Enjoy the rays!
Hi – we found so much to identify with in your latest post. I’ll be following you to see if it’s s trip we might do next year. You are so adventurous!
Peggy and Jerry
Sacramento Bike Hikers
Hi Peggy and Jerry! Are you thinking of self-supported touring like we’re doing or something a little more supported (e.g., hotels), or maybe even a guided tour? There are pros and cons to each of these options. When we get back we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have about our experiences.
We would go self-supported like you, with the occasional hotel. And we definitely want your insights when you return.
We would be honored to share our insights with you!
Are you uploading your rides to Strava? If so, let us know so we can follow you on Strava. If you use Garmin Connect, you can also have it automatically upload your rides to Strava too. You can also sign up to the Bikehiker group that is on Strava.
Ciao Davide, We really do want to get something up on our website, or even just a link to Strava or Garmin, but we’ve been struggling with technology – especially any technology that requires an internet connection. Mark has uploaded something to Strava, but I’m not sure how complete it is. I’ll private message you to see if you can help us figure this out. Thanks!
This is good news for both of you. Sometimes it is hard to start a journey and you sure have had a tough time so far. Enjoy every day for none of us know the tomorrows.
20 days for us until we get to Buenos Aires . The countdown has started and we are very excited.
Love Chris and Julie.
Just 20 days to go…how wonderful! Time sure flies, doesn’t it! Please say hi to everybody from us and have a wonderful trip!