Out for a cycling ride this afternoon, after relocating from Soulac-sur-Mer further south to Hourtin. We first stopped at Hourtin-Plage, where the Eurovelo route goes through, as there was supposed to be an Aire there, but it appeared to have disappeared or been incorporated into a commercial camp site, which was closed for the winter anyway. So we went around the other side of the Lac D’Hourtin-Carcans to Hourtin Port, and found a lovely Aire nestled amongst the pine trees, and only a couple of hundred metres from the edge of the lake.
If you don’t already know, the [Eurovelo](http://www.eurovelo.org) are a series of cycling routes around Europe, 13 in all, and this is number 1, the longest route that follows the [Atlantic Coast from Norway to Portugal](http://www.cyclingeurope.org/the-other-eurovelos/eurovelo-1), passing through Scotland, Ireland, Wales, England, France and Spain for a total of 8,500kms. About 50% of the route is off regular roads, on signed cycle paths, but quite a lot if actually not even on tarmac as far as I can figure out.
It has to be said, given my experience of France and its attitudes to cycle routes (impressive) I was assuming that whilst this section goes through the pine forests it would be on a road or neatly manicured stretch of tarmac cycle path, but no, this was not quite what it was like. It was a strip of concrete, varying between 18 inches and 3 feet wide and not always completely contiguous, and often covered in sand, pine needles and massive pine cones. In quite a few places, the concrete had deteriorated to the point where it looked like the patio at Fred Wests house, after the forensics had been in.
So it made for a very entertaining ride down south between the Atlantic and the Lake, although both too far way from the path to be seen or heard. We covered maybe 15 kms like this, and the pictures probably give you an idea of what it was like. The terrain isn’t always flat (after all, you are on reclaimed sand dunes) and so it was interesting having to try and peddle up hill in deep sand. Quite often a swift and abrupt dismount was required as the concrete disintegrated ahead of you leaving vast bunkers of sand. We did compound matters by insisting on carrying on along the route despite the fact that in places it was signed as ‘for walkers only – cycling prohibited’ due to the state of the path. I think the [Rough Stuff Fellowship](http://www.rsf.org.uk) would have been proud – as they say ‘never go out for a walk without your bike!’
Still, another 36 miles in the bag. Mel’s bike seems to have developed a slight binding in the back wheel after the thorough shake down it got today. I need to take a look at the brakes which might be the cause, if not its the hub, but I’d be surprised given that its new.