Months in the planning, sleepless nights spent worrying about Russian Ultras and English football hooligans finally we were leaving Kirkcaldy and heading to London, Paris and Bordeaux. Not for the footie but to spend almost three weeks cycling the Canal des deux mers a 300 mile cycle mainly on canal paths and catching 3 stages of the Tour.
It was tipping it down, well what do you expect it was summer in Scotland, we waited till the worst had finished and literally got on our bikes and headed for the station.We were travelling on Virgin East Coast and had expected to dump our bikes in a coach then rush and move them at Edinburgh to the guards van. Surprise surprise as the train slowed a conductor leaned out a window and told us to take them down the other end of the train which the driver had just barely managed to creep onto the platform. Score 1 Virgin East Coast. The journey to London was fairly uneventful as was checking off the bikes from the guards van which had just been left open for anyone to claim a bike!
We arrived into KX just after 10pm and decided to take the bikes straight to Eurodespatch and get them booked in for the following days journey to Paris. This went incredibly smoothly with the operator, a vintage bike shop owner, admiring Carol’s 30 year old Pug. With bikes safely booked in we started off on a rather circuitous google maps led route to our hotel. Upon booking in and learning that our booked double room had some minor plumbing problems we were offered a twin room at which time Carol cheekily suggested that the hotel might want to provide a free breakfast and they did. So far everything had gone well and disaster free not the normal state of affairs when we go away at all.
We were awakened, slightly earlier than planned by the hotel fire alarm which it turned out actually pleased Carol and possibly more of the females waiting on the pavement as they got to ogle a group of firemen that came to check the hotel out!
After the all clear was given we headed back to our room for the short time left before breakfast and our departure for Saint Pancras. This time I followed the route I knew and which we should have followed the previous evening! We had both thought that we had left in plenty time but with Carol recording almost every minute of the journey frame by frame we found ourselves near the end of the Q for our train to Paris.
The journey from London to Paris was over almost before we got comfortable and we were soon searching for the French equivalent of Eurodespatch to collect out bikes ah sorry Velos! Velos collected and inspected, some scrapes and bangs unfortunately, we made our way out of the station and into traffic mayhem that is Paris on a Saturday afternoon, our mission to get from Gare du Nord to Gare Montparnasse and our train to Bordeaux. We made it possibly more by luck than judgement although it has to be said once past the major tourist areas there are cycle paths to use and the odd directional sign to help. Our waiting time was spent having some lunch and checking the platform out TGV would be leaving from. We would spend longer on this train than we did travelling from London!
We had the whole carriage to ourselves and Velos all the way to Bordeaux and once more began navigating through a strange city to our hotel, further away than I would have liked but possibly lucky to get anything at all with the football on. The receptionist did warn us that some fans were in the hotel but we managed to get a good nights sleep to prepare for Sunday and our first day on our bikes.