It was the summer of 2011 that my good friend Mr John Burch had decided to get married, in Ibiza of all places. I think this came at a time when I was looking for an excuse to get away and have a little adventure, so began mulling over ways I could make this fit the bill. A few days later and the Tour de Ibiza was born. Planes, I decided, were overrated. It would be a much more sensible idea to get on my mother’s old bicycle, grab a tent and a couple of bags of pasta, and jump on ferry, and meander my way through France, until I eventually happened upon Barcelona.
So that was pretty much it. I’d love to say I spent many a night pouring over maps looking for the best routes through the French countryside, while studiously improving my basic French to carry me through the various situations that were to arise, but despite my best intentions, none of that happened. I did manage to get into the habit of doing many laps of Richmond Park, either late at night after work, or at 5am before heading to electrician college, which was probably fairly useful, but that was as far as my prep went.
A couple of days beforehand I wheeled my mum’s trusty Claudette out of the shed, and along with my Dad we got everything turning and running smoothly. My dear mother presented me with all the necessary maps (as obviously I hadn’t got that far), I chucked some camping and cooking bits in my panniers, and set off down the road. A quick pitstop at the local cycle shop to buy all the other stuff I probably needed, and I was on a train to Portsmouth, and before I knew it was steaming towards the French coast. 4 months after coming up with the idea, the ferry seemed like the perfect place to lay out the maps, and make a plan.