Greetings from the border of France and Spain (Urrugne), the Bask country which strives to be independent. Sorry for not writing in a long time, I will try to sum up the route since so far and tell more in another post. So Paris was really good and the rest helped a lot with my legs which at that point were like two wooden legs. Also it was nice to actually socialise and be with people, i had a really nice host Axel who i hosted a year ago in Helsink
From Paris i cycled to Loiret which is in the countryside (100km), it was the hottest day so far. My legs felt amazing but the heat and the hills tried to kill me 😀 I staid with Marianne and Jean-Baptiste who had a lot of animals (horse, two dogs and cats, turtles, chickens, gooses and funny jumping birds), sadly I forgot to take a picture of them but there is a note 🙂
After that was Vendome (100km, +30 celsius), a small place where I staid with this really precious family who cycles a lot (Gabrielle and Roman) and who i felt a great connection with. There home was very calm and understanding, there was a lot of love.
In France its really common to cycle as a family and value that because its a huge richness for the children, its a great way to see the country you live in or even the world like the family in Steenwijk who cycled with their first born since she was a baby. Gabrielle told me what freedom means to her and if your interested, its in the Facebook @helsinki2madrid. Actually i ran into them at the west coast route maybe one week later 🙂
Next day i cycled to Tour where I thought i could have time to see the city because i heard so many good things about it and it was really amazing with a big wild river cutting the city in half.
I went swimming in the river and it felt good after a hot day but I didint have a place to sleep and it was getting dark, too late to cycle away from the city. This was the worst night I had so far, after an hour of searching for a place i just went to the beach that was in the city which is not such a good idea because its near to people. There was no place for a hammock so i went behind a big bush, tried to make a ”roof” out of my hammock attaching the other end to my bicycle and other to the sand with a stick. It was like a small nest and it worked until it started to be really windy and i constantly woke up scared and had to hold on to my ”roof” in order to stay in cover, at three it was supposto to thunder so you can imagine how scared i was being alone under a small cover that wont keep rain or thunder. I hope this was the last time i need to be so scared, but i learned from it. When your scared of something, you need to look close..what are you really scared of, does it even exist? This time it was the fear of someone hurting me and having to witness a thunder storm, luckily nothing that bad happened and I woke up sweaty and confused at 9:40. I felt really sad and tired, missing my own bed and friends, feeling miserable. I had a quick wash in the river, ate my banana muesli (best breakfast on the road) and head to the road. After 20 km i started to feel better emotionally and its no wonder because it was the most beautiful route i ever saw, it followed the Loire river (wild river) and had a lot of other cyclists aswell which is nice because you have more human contact. I recommend this route!! 🙂 I felt happy and secure because I got a mail from a couple at Due La Fontaine offering me a place to sleep.
Due La Fontaine was 100km from Tours so at this point I had allmost 400km in four days and I started to feel it in my legs again, the last 20km of my route was the hardest I had ever faced. I was cycling with lowest gear and couldnt get anywhere because it hurt so much in my thies, it was the first time i cried and cycled and the last. This day teached me a lesson to recognise my strenghts and accept that im not a super human, i dont eat kryptonite for breakfast even though im really brave. Next day i spent resting in the most beautiful place with Phillip and Fabienne who, again were amazing people that talk really openly about life and their past. We ate well, laughed and cried together, went to market and they told me I can stay as long as i want since my legs were once again done, this time even worst then after Amsterdam but i had a clock ticking in my head and I knew i had to continue in order to make it to Madrid.
I was really happy eventhough my legs were really hurting still and i didint get far, 50km which toulk around 5 hours to a town called Bressuire where i manage to found a great group of friends from a local pub who helped me to find a place to sleep in a house that was being renovated.
Next day I left happy to Fontaney la comte, idea was to get to La Rochelle (100km) but that wasnt possible and im happy because otherwise i wouldnt have met Marie, Helen and Anna who gave me so much ”girl power”, they also cycled the west coast that im doing now so i got good tips and a great late night tour in the town. It was good to spend time with women who seems to be more or less in the same life situation then me, Marie really wanted to try cycling trip on her own so I told her how its been for me and encouraged her to do it.
Next morning I headed to La Rochelle finally and the route was really beautiful with a river all the way to the city. I found my host Virginy who was spending few holidays with her friend Paul at their friends apartment Hugo (yes, it was complicated). They are both from Toulousse but Paul lives in Paris, we spent four days really tightly together, it was special. They tought me french and the language, i thougth them english. We ate well, had few beers and just enjoyed each other. In four days we bonded so deeply that it was really hard to leave after that, this was unforgettable and i hope we will meet again. This wouldnt have happened if i wasnt with an open heart, if we all werent and thats one of the biggest lessons i have learned so far during my journey: freedom means having your heart open to people, giving and reveiving authtentic emotions and caring. By doing this you will have pure happiness, it might not last long always but these kind of moments make me want live, makes me want to travel and give to others.
After La Rochelle I headed to Royan which is quite a touristic city by the coast. The route followed Atlantic coast in the begining and then it went into a pineforest which was still really close to the ocean all the time. Sometimes there was sand dunes and the scent of pine reminded me summer and Hyvinkää when i used to go swimming outside in a area called Sveitsi. It was hot but i didint mind because the route was so nice and I had company from other cyclists, theres a habbit that cyclists say hello to each other when they meet, so I think i said it like 100 times that day 😊 I arrived in Royan around 7pm and this was 70 km.
Next day in Royan I toulk a ferry accross ocean because I didint want to cycle trough Bordeaux (i wanted to see the city but that meant more km:time), ferry toulk around 30mins and cost 5 euros. This way i was able to continue the coast route aswell.
I aimed to Lacanau but instead stayed at Lake Hourtin (amazing place), before that I stop at Hourtin beach to have a shower and water, I asked in few surf shops if they know about Warmshower but they didint understand so I continued. Beautiful beach but like all the beach resorts at the west coast this one wasnt my kind of place, lot of tourists, it feels like each of these places are like a fake town with really expensive prices and tourists just pay because theres nothing else. Of course I understand its a business and the locals make their living like this but i wouldnt choose to go into these places for holiday. Anyways, i think its easier to find a wild camping place next to a lake rather than ocean because there are way less tourists and more options to hide in a nice place. This day was around 65 km.
From Lake Hourtin I continued five days more until I reached Urrugne at 4.8, last day of crowdfunding campaign for the project and I was so happy, not crying out of pain but pure happiness. I saw finally mountains and I am actually at the border of France and Spain or thats how most of the world sees it BUT the locals say its Basque country which means its nor Spain or France but an own area with their own language.
I am staying here until tuesday, then a friend of mine will join me and we will cycle toward Madrid together for a while and spend some time at the coast of Spain, its time for me to enjoy a little.
So as most of the people who follow Riding for Hope allready know that we succeeded with the crowdfunding, there was a huge final spurt in the last day. I was at a friends place in Bayonne with phone in my hand, jumping,shakin,crying and laughing each time someone donated more. It felt so concrete, six weeks of cycling, years of planning was going to end in away. I really wanted the campaign to succeed and luckily with help of some really generous people we were able to do it and phiuuff, i can write on and on about it but i felt pure happiness, I was proud of myself and this rarely happens.
Theres still some km left to Madrid so the project is not over but i can breath easier and stress less. People ask all the time about autumn and what am i going to do and I dont want to say anything because im not sure. To be honest it would be nice to travel more, meet more people and relax for a while, but not alone. With bicycle perhaps yes, because now i could take my time and stay couple of days there and here (not sure how i can make it happen financially thou). At the same time i have this idea of having my own company or association that strives to be communal, help people in need and teach about the value of sharing and loving (all the things i learned during this summer) instead of money and blinding need of power…yes i realise that i need to have some money to live with aswell. Lets see what the autumn brings and who it might bring along with me.
For now Good night, Hyvää yötä, Buenos noches!
Next writing comes from Spain 🙂
Hope and love