This post is like overdue since what … maybe a month and a half? Around that time I’m thinking, we all know how it goes, things just get pushed back for more ”apparently” important things… Either way .. it’s a start … it’s being written.
Anyway … let’s get down to it.
Maybe that tingy sensation [I] one can get when standing/camping/sleeping/whatever in the middle of the woods, is probably from an abuse from horror films. Not them tacky wannabe new ones that are far from scary, I’m talking about the spooky, B class horror from back in the day; Mike Myers, Jason Voorhees, Freddy Kruger (on a side note; Freddy is only being placed on here for pure epicness, but no chance would be beat Jason in a fight – no bloody chance!) – Takashi Miike and his wonderfully bizarre view of the world, not to mention the first ever slasher film – Black Christmas – No, not that 2006 tacky remake .. like the original 1974 of course.
Anyway, they are probably the reason I have to really get a grip of myself when I need to step out of my tent in the middle of the night, then stare in awe at the beauty of everything without sunlight – then dash back head first into the tent – just in case you know – Even though my trusty knife that always accompanies me on my travels, is not brought with me for violent purposes but more for survival ones … I would still pop it out if Jason appeared from behind a tree, then again – I’ve got nothing on him compared with his machette, I’d have to say a few words to him if it was the case obviously … “Are you like … serious dude!? I’ve stood behind you and defended you from all them Freddy fans over all these years and now you want to fuck me up!? like seriously dude, were not even in Camp Crystal Lake, I know that Hollywood took you down the wrong road and messed with your credentials … but seriously now; your making a big mistake here!”
Personal paranoia’s put aside – kip was the next priority – the next day would be more of the same and the body needed rest.
I was up and ready for another day on the bike, chilly as always, even though it was October, the weather was being nice, only a few days of rain and not too many cold days, the morning though was cold, bloody cold.
The road was as full of psycho drivers as always, it seemed the only time this changed, was when I got off the road and made camp, obviously this was too dark to cycle, so it wasn’t much help.
Coffee and some water were my priorities at the moment, my lips where dry, my bottles were empty and caffeine was still high on my priorities … as usual …
Got my dosage’s of both in a random café just off the road in Lit-et-Mixe. Went outside to check my bike out, my break pads were acting funny and maybe turning them around would prove to make them more effective. Half way through this process, out the corner of my eye I see a guy jump off a bike all loaded up, with panniers and stuff and causally walk over my way. We started talking. He was Mathias a twenty four year old fella, from North France, who had always wanted to cycle around Europe. He saved up, kitted himself out – took a long holiday from work, left his girl at home (Yes, he had a girlfriend! I found this a spectacular move. Continue to maintain a relationship and still head out to travel.) and headed out to see and experience the world from the saddle of his bike.
The same was as myself, he was travelling alone, just with his thoughts, his muscles which were pushing him along and his passion to see and feel the world. We instantly clicked and decided to ride along for the day together. Initially until Capbreton where he would divert and head towards Bayonne and I would continue the final stretch to Spain.
It was very interesting to ride with someone for the day, this was my first time to not be alone on the road and it proved to be a really interesting one and very far from dull.
His bike was kitted out with really cool gadgets, from a dynamo in his front hub that recharged his GPS, Ipod, Phone, the kilometer thinggy on the handlebars (can’t remember it’s name) to actual waterproof panniers (dam! what I would of loved to have one of them a few days back!!)
Either way, we chatted all day long, while swerving to and thro of traffic, as when cycling on ones own, there is no problem with cars overtaking but when cycling in pairs, the cars seemed to get a little extra impatient or something along them lines, as whenever one pulled up behind us they started honking like nutcases, one of us just swerved behind the other and let the moaning drivers, continue on their way. His pace was much harder than mine, I think maybe due to his non smoking or caffeine stops – then again. Whoever actually knows me in person, knows that I’m not really the sports type of guy. I smoke, I like a good alcohol binge (more than 24 hours straight if possible) … I think the only reason I’d run nowadays is because the shop is closing and won’t be able to buy fags/booze or I’m being chased by the old bill or by some nutter with a weapon .. and in all fareness there’s not much difference.
I had grown accustomed to my rhythm and obviously him to his, but we made it work – I got my occasional cigarette and coffee breaks and I tried not to slow his normal pace down … too much :)
We talked about a lot, from our personal ideas, life’s, what we wanted out of life, our ways of travel. etc
I mean there is a lot to talk about .. I had just spent 18/19 days wandering through France, and bumping into people who could hold a conversation to my level of English … well it wasn’t a thing you come across every day, so suddenly cycling with a guy who actually understood my and I understood him .. is really cool!! we stopped off in Capbreton to buy some bread. Which I was shocked to find out they sold proper loaf style bread and they would cut it for you at the bakery if you wanted. (Then again … I’m not even close to being fluent in French – I jokingly said you will suffer what I have in France with the language barrier when you reach Spain :p )
Further up the road, we stopped in this really cool bar/restaurant place. I swear it looked like what I’d imagine Little Cube to be like. I even noticed that the only alcohol they sold in spirit form was Rum! Can’t get any more Cuba like than that! We sat outside and sipped our black coffee (Obviously, my nicotine habit is still present!) and continued chatting some more.
We got onto the subject of wild camping. Mathias told me that he felt some unease to do so, he preferred the security a camping can seem to give. Which sure, I can understand that. My answer was though – “You want me to show you some tips in doing so?” I mean, everyone if more than free to kip where they want, but if you don’t camp wild because you feel uneasy, let me show you some tips that will make your life much easier when you choose to do so.
That is what we did.
I pointed out basic information that it may take one some time to acquire when wild camping.
For example: Go down unpaved tracks, don’t waste too much time in going too deep down the road (you have to come back and you’re fighting against the sun) , if you’re unsure of how fresh the tire tracks are, look for natures way of taking it back. (if there’s tire tracks and mushrooms growing on top, there not fresh, as a car would of broke the mushrooms) don’t camp on private property (a pissed off farmer is not a nice thing to wake up too), private government land is cool to camp on, just stay out of cops line of view . and so many others but I’m not going to list everything :D
We ended up camping on the side of a lake just outside Ondres. It was actually Mathias’s find, I was heading towards the beach. Who would of known that “entang” meant lake *shrugs*
We set up camp, had another chat while the twilight disappeared and turned into night, where we retired into our tents for the night.
He was a early riser, I had slowly got accustomed to getting up later and later as the days went on by. Tenish seemed like a good enough time to get up and get on my bike, but we agreed that if he was up before me and wanting to head out, it was all cool.
We came back to consciousness as around the same time really. Crawling from out of our tents to the sun warming the world. We packed and snapped a shot of ourselves just for future memory.
Looking at our bikes before taking this shot, I think I was given the biggest compliment anyone has ever given me before. As our set up is completely different in every aspect, weight, distribution, bla bla bla. I’m not entirely sure how we got on subject but Mathias said the following. “I look like a traveler, while you look like an adventurer.” and that my fellow interweb readers, is the best compliment ever from another fellow traveler. That like boosted my mood – up up up and beyond.
We got back on our transport of choice and hit the road on route to Bayonna, a city we later found out was no avoiding, for Mathias this was all good, as he was heading there to head after towards the Pyrenees and cross into Spain that way and follow the French Pilgrims Way, And I followed the coastal line south towards Irun – Which is exactly what we did. We parted and wished each other a safe and enjoyable journey – wherever it was we where heading.
I followed what seemed like a motorway towards San Juan d’ Luz, just for old times sakes [That is San Juan de Luz, if you follow the hills to the right, just out of this picture ... that's spain] .. I knew all this, I’d been in this side of The Basque Country many times. Again it was a little depressing as it was a tourist trap, everything “Basque Country – Pays Basque” everywhere but no one spoke even the basic words. Sure I may not be fluent in Basque but shit … I know a little.
Then all of a sudden . The hills hit me. There was 30km to the border, only a few towns left, but they felt the most treacherous and painful kilometers from the whole ride. It felt like hours, maybe five good ones to reach Hendaye, the border town and cross that damned bridge.
It proved to be hard, very very hard indeed. Strong and tough climbs, the ride down was wonderful but most of the times it was suddenly trashed by my over excitement and accidentally slipping it in 6th gear to only remember a split second after that, when putting in that gear the fucking chain would slip out and stick it’self under my rack bolt.
It was there . Now instead of following a map, the road signs reading Espagna. It was emotional indeed, this would mean I had indeed just cycled from Saint Malo to Irun. It took me twenty days, a lot of pain and suffering but also some wonderful times, a deeper look at France and the french and at the same time, re-sparked this style of life.
Just a curiosity for all you people around the globe. I’m sure you won’t find many signs of the country you are about to enter on the border that have been crossed out. :D Welcome to my country!
I was in Spain, coffee indeed was on my mind – just to realize that it never did matter where my end destination was … what really matters is the journey. It took me a thousand kilometers and change to re-realize this again. I wandered out of Irun only to realize at the bottom of this stupid ass hill, that I had no food, hadn’t eaten and was out of tobacco. So I headed back towards Irun, I remembered that I had a mate who lived just outside, but where was his phone number when I needed it?¿
It was no where to be found.
So here was how it went down:
No baccy – no grub – fuck! – 30km from Donosti – long cycle and haven’t eaten – have to buy baccy – fuck! – oh fuck this!! – I’ll jump on a train and piss off home – There’s food there and most importantly ten packets of baccy – why spend money on something I already paid for – I’ll save the money – €5 for train home – took nearly four hours – fuck me! – Even went through places I never fucking heard of before – here! – Hmmm – so nice to come back to this town – only if I know I’m leaving soon.