We take our final breakfast in France - croissants, bread and cheese, we ask the lady in charge what would be the best route back to Narbonne - we need to get back there to meet up with our coach transport back to the UK. She tells us the cycle path is the easiest and safest route. We don't fancy the bumpy canal path again but decide we should probably heed her advice.
|Pick up point|
|All aboard for home|
We've got a four hour wait now until the European Bike Express picks up us, our bikes and luggage. We stand around; we sit, we go for a burger, we go to the supermarket just across the way. Still three hours to wait. I wonder if we should cycle into the city centre and find a bar or something - but we decide against it. It's a long wait but finally the transport arrives. It's a standard coach but towing a second trailer that stores the bikes and baggage. We're greeted by a small man who is too short to lift our bags onto the storage racks - Gary steps up to give him a hand. Then we're on the coach with just hand luggage. There's some confusion over the seats - we have allocated seats but someone is already sitting in ours. The little guy comes aboard and puts us somewhere else. Then we're off - we'll be onboard this coach for the next 23 hours or so. There'll be further pick-ups throughout France as we head to Calais for the ferry to Dover - then dropping people off through the UK - we'll be dropped at Leicester Forest East and then there's a 10 mile cycle ride home - 20 for Gary.
|The European Bike Express|
The coach stops at various service stations and we are able to stretch our legs and make use of the facilities. Gradually we make our way North as night falls. I manage to get some sleep but it's patchy, I remember being woken as the coach picked up some cyclists at around 2.00am. Finally we reach Calais at about 6.30am on Sunday morning. I feel as comfortable as anyone who's just spent 15 hours squeezed into a tin can with 50 others wearing two-week unwashed lycra. Each time we get back onto the coach after a comfort break there's a noticeable sweaty 'hum'.
|No sign of bluebirds?|
We are dropped off at the motorway service station at Leicester Forest East and load up our bikes for the ride home. The sky is threatening and before long we are pulling on waterproofs. There is a torrential downfall as we edge up some steep inclines through Desford - but it's nothing compared to the hills we've been up in France.
And so the adventure ends on a damp Sunday afternoon on the outskirts of Leicester. It's good to be back, safe and sound. In terms of madcap ideas generated on a Friday night in the pub, this one was right up there. I feel it surpasses anything we've done before, not least because we were on our own - no support to call on if we got into trouble. And because the journey through France, end-to-end, Channel to Med is not particularly common. We know plenty of people who've cycled Lands End to John O Groats - but no-one who's done the French version.
Thanks to everyone who helped and supported us on our endeavour - not least Kate for transporting us to Portsmouth with our our bikes and luggage - we couldn't have done it without you! John and Jane, whose emergency mint cake kept us going! and Val for the farty car video which made us laugh.
So that's it for now - thanks for reading these notes. Keep an eye on this blog for the next thing. Anyone fancy Spain?