GPS Diary

Daily Diary – Excerpts from the GPS Files


You go on a trip of an undetermined length, not knowing exactly where it will take you. Yes you have a destination in mind and some rough points you want to go through or visit, but the trip is malleable and there is no reason why at any point you can’t turn left, instead of right.

The Daily Diary – Excerpts from the GPS files is a simple diary or extract of my days on the road cycling. The only days that are covered are those that have a ride file and that I can put a link to. I kept good notes while I was touring, took over 7,000 photos and of course, recorded the rides and lots of key points using my trusty phone loaded with several apps.

The Apps

The main apps I used while on the tour were installed to help me recall the time I had, the places I visited and the people I met. To do this I needed several and I am known by friends and family for my love of gadgets, computers and apps. One of my oft most used phrases is “you can get an app for that!”. And so it was when I left, I mostly cleared my beloved iPhone 5 of all those apps I rarely used and made sure I had it loaded with apps that would help me record the ride for posterity or assist me in my journey or with maintaining my blog at

To be safe I also carried a spare, my previous phone an iPhone 4, which too was loaded with many of the same apps. This second phone was hidden away at the bottom of my pannier bag, wrapped up out of sight should anything happen to my main phone. It was regularly brought out when I stopped for any period of time to sync data from the wonders and wizardry of the cloud, iCloud and Dropbox and so acted as a backup.


I’d been using the Cyclemeter app for some time before embarking on this trip, having already recorded around 20,000 miles of cycling with it. I was aware of the benefits of using this wonderful if not generally known about app. Cyclemeter and its sister apps, runmeter and walkmeter records your activity, by using your phones GPS receiver. With this data you then have access to all matter of information and for a gadget/computer/app geek like me it’s like honey to a bee. Cyclemeter without a doubt is my most used app of all time and the one I simply couldn’t live without.

So why do I think cyclemeter is so great? Not only do you get a track of where you have ridden, a shed load of data like speeds, elevation and even the weather while riding, Cyclemeter creates more graphs than you can shake a stick at. You also get a link to your ride from the Cyclemeter servers which give you even more data in a more than pleasing on the eye when viewed on a laptop or computer. By setting routes such as ‘long bike ride’ the app will tally all this data and summarise it for you allowing you to view instantly how far you have ridden, at what speed etc. Whilst not all of the features are available in the free version, most are. Cyclemeter will also sync to other devices using the cloud. The database is uploaded to Apples iCloud, and connecting another device to the same account you can install the current database. If I had lost my main phone, I could have simply carried on with the backup without having lost data.

Track My Tour

Again this is an iPhone specific app. Track My Tour again uses your phones GPS receiver to record your location and then if you like attach a note and a photo. Once a note is made that any photo taken are uploaded when you have a data connection to the Track My Tour servers where a shiny pin placed on a map and the note is recorded allowing users to be able to see your location and what you have been up to as you record things on the internet. I had previously tested this app on a short tour from my home to Paris in France and back and was well aware of possibilities.

With a very small amount of web coding ability, it doesn’t take much to add the map to your website or blog which also gives family reassurance that your still alive and hopefully having a wonderful time.

Links in the Diary

There are two main links in each diary entry, an Explorer Link and an Import Link.

 Explorer Link – The explorer link opens up the route for the day on Cyclemeter’s website, this has access to many of the stats and graphically displays things like speed and time splits etc. It’s possible to see the route on a satellite image overlay.

Import Link – a KML file, which can be opened in many apps or programs, the main one being Google Earth, where again you can see satellite imagery for the route and also use the google streets icon to drag yourself into the road and see what’s there.

14th May 2014 – Leaving Day

Route: #Long Bike Ride

Activity: Cycle
Explorer Link:
Import Link:
Started: 14 May 2014, 10:45:13
Ride Time: 5:31:57
Stopped Time: 2:16:33
Distance: 71.97 miles
Average Speed: 13.01 mph
Fastest Speed: 40.42 mph
Ascent: 3932
Descent: 4137
Calories: 3029
Bike: Surly LHT
Notes: Devizes to Portsmouth
Today I left home on the start of my ‘long bike ride’, leaving Devizes without a date of returning.


Mile 2.5

Happened to see my Uncle John riding his bike  as I went past the roundabout on the green on Devizes, so took a detour to follow him along green and say hello.

Weather was quite nice, sunny and warming. Mostly used the route I have ridden a couple of times before riding to catch a ferry at Portsmouth, but put in a couple of other smaller roads to try out new ways.


36 Miles

Took a wrong turn, first of many I should imagine.


39 Miles – Kings Somborne

Wasn’t expecting to get wet, turns out there is a Ford to be crossed, with lots of water. First test of riding the bike through deep water.


68 Miles

Stopped on the grassy area overlooking the port to cook a nutritious meal of instant 10p noodles and have a hot drink. A nice spot to stop at to see the boats coming in and out of the harbour below. A couple walking dogs looked at the bike with all it’s luggage and asked how far I was going, not sure they believed me when I said Africa.


71 Miles

Arrived at the port in Portsmouth. Got told off for parking the bike in front of the window where I could see it and was asked to move it to the bike stands, where I couldn’t!

Apparently it was a risk that I may have had a bomb in it where it was. I must look like a radicalist, haven’t even had time to grow a beard yet!


15th May 2014 – Hello Twin


Route: #Long Bike Ride

Activity: Cycle

Explorer Link:

Import Link:

Started: 15 May 2014, 06:55:57

Ride Time: 7:54:04

Stopped Time: 3:13:56

Distance: 92.96 miles

Average Speed: 11.77 mph

Fastest Speed: 34.63 mph

Ascent: 5162

Descent: 4865

Calories: 3915

Bike: Surly LHT

Notes: France – Country change

Caen to Mayenne


Looking at the GPS track, I was riding on water. I wasn’t of course, I had turned on the Cyclemeter app as the ferry was docking. Quickly wanting to get as far away from the UK as soon as possible, my target for the day was Mayenne, twin town to my hometown of Devizes.


16 Miles

Changed my mind on the route I was going to take, I like the road, track looked rough. I expect I will have to get used to this if I make it to Africa.


18 Mile

 Wrong turn again, about the sixth of the day already. This time I kept going along the D41 when I should have turned right! I don’t recall getting out of the Caen area being this difficult before.


52.5 Miles – Nr Laubésniere

Filled up the water bottles from the Ruisseau du Grand Ros. A grand sounding name for a small stream. Used my MSR water filter which very soon stopped working due to the heavy iron in the water, cleaned filter and it worked again, phew.


90.8 Miles

Reached Mayenne, took a photo of the bike leant against the wall with the Mayenne town sign name in the background.


Spent the night in Mayenne with my first Warmshowers host of the trip. I was warmly welcomed into the family and fed well. In the evening a trip into town to see Mayenne and the highlight was seeing the plaque with Devizes on. As art of a recent ceremony, trees had been planted for each of the twin towns. Devizes’ tree had already died as it had snapped in a storm!


16th May 2014 – Proper Rural France


Route: #Long Bike Ride

Activity: Cycle

Explorer Link:

Import Link:

Started: 16 May 2014, 08:51:34

Ride Time: 6:39:56

Stopped Time: 5:12:06

Distance: 77.84 miles

Average Speed: 11.68 mph

Fastest Speed: 32.89 mph

Ascent: 2685

Descent: 3030

Calories: 3464

Bike: Surly LHT

Notes: Mayenne to Villêveque


4.5 Miles

Cycling along the side of water, the river Mayenne on a nice wide cycle path, it can’t get much better than this! Lovely weirs to look at with locks on the side for the boats to get through. Wished I had brought a small telescopic fishing rod, I feel like Mark Twain..


41.6 Miles

Lunch Time! Weather is quite hot so found a nice shady part under a tree to set out my stove and little tripod camping stool and cook up some wonderful nutritious instant noodles. Nice!


59.8 Miles

Reached a place not far from a town called Morannes. Was here only a few years ago, fishing for the first time in France. Thought it rude not to visit as I was this close. Rode into the lake where I spoke to some English carp anglers, they had, had a quiet week and explained that the fishing had changed over the last few years, not for the better. It seemed to take an age to get to this lake when we came by minibus, but on a bike I am here already on day two in France.


77.8 Miles

Second Warm showers host of the trip already in Villêveque. Interesting arrival, Jean’s was not in, his wife spoke no English, but we managed to communicate by gesture and sign language and I put my tent up on the nice lawn. Had a nice home cooked dinner and a pleasant evening chatting before retiring to my first night in the tent.


17th May 2014 –


Route: #Long Bike Ride

Activity: Cycle

Explorer Link:

Import Link:

Started: 17 May 2014, 09:51:00

Ride Time: 5:08:02

Stopped Time: 4:53:47

Distance: 63.99 miles

Average Speed: 12.46 mph

Fastest Speed: 27.74 mph

Ascent: 2569

Descent: 2079

Calories: 2700

Bike: Surly LHT

Notes: Villevêque to St Malo du Bois


11 Miles

Tourist information stop to get a new local tourist map. Nice display about Troglodytes!


51 Miles

Visited McDonald’s in France, looked at the prices and thought I’d just use the free wifi. McDonald’s in France is not the same as the UK ones, they are cleaner and far more expensive. They also have digital screen ordering which we are yet to get in the UK.


59 Miles

Needed a wash, time to get out the Ortlieb folding bowl for the first time. Found a cemetery which always has water taps and filled the bowl up. Took the bowl out into the carp park to semi strip off and have a wash. Topped up all the water bottles ready for the evening and next day. Food and find a camp spot next.


62 Miles

Stopped at a Contact supermarche to stock up on food ready for the evening and next day.


63.9 Miles

Found a nice quiet mown bit of grass next to an electric sub station to spend the first night wild camping. Stealthily crept off the road and pushed the bike out of sight, setting the tent up at the very end, where it was hidden by some trees. Cooked up a nice meal and then retired for the night. Put my washed clothing on the line outside the tent.



18th May 2014 –


Route: #Long Bike Ride

Activity: Cycle

Explorer Link:

Import Link:

Started: 18 May 2014, 08:29:20

Ride Time: 7:59:18

Stopped Time: 7:59:18

Distance: 92.16 miles

Average Speed: 11.54 mph

Fastest Speed: 32.66 mph

Ascent: 3015

Descent: 3590

Calories: 3419

Bike: Surly LHT

Notes: St Malo du Bois to St Laurent de la Prée. Forgot to turn app back on at Marans.


53.5 Miles

Stopped for lunch outside the tourist office in Marans. Nice shaded spot after a good morning and 52 miles to refuel on bread and jam.


Forgot to turn Cyclemeter back on, so mile ages below are as shown on the GPS route.


54 Miles

but really about 64 miles I stopped at Dompierre sur Mer. As I rode past a digital temperature gauge it said it was 32 degrees, time to do the only sensible thing an Englishman would do, find some shade, make a cup of tea and read a book under a tree unti it cools off a little.


61 Miles – (71 Miles) – La Rochelle

Nice little town by the sea, with a big Ferris wheel. Crossed back to the sea already.


82 Miles (92 Miles)

found another wild camping spot. This time in some arable/agricultural land off of the main road just outside of St Laurent de la Pree. Rode off the track as the light was fading and set up in a dip of recessed grass out of sight.



19th May 2014 –


Route: #Long Bike Ride

Activity: Cycle

Explorer Link:

Import Link:

Started: 19 May 2014, 07:18:20

Ride Time: 7:09:23

Stopped Time: 4:46:41

Distance: 80.68 miles

Average Speed: 11.27 mph

Fastest Speed: 23.33 mph

Ascent: 1775

Descent: 1744

Calories: 3475

Bike: Surly LHT

Notes: Saint Laurent de la Prée to Montalivet


5 Miles – Rochefort Ocean

Tourist information stop in Rochefort Ocean, time to get a new free map. These free tourist maps in France are great, they have a road map for the area and as France has plenty of Tourist information places, you just go to the next one near the end of your current map. Love free mapping.


17 Miles – Champagne

Went through a town named Champagne. Don’t know if this is THE Champagne, anyway didn’t see any of the stuff to try!


23 Miles – La Belle Croix

Went through a town with the name Belle in it. Not the first time I see Belle written down. The reason I am doing this trip is because I split up with my girlfriend Belle. France is not helping with putting her out of my mind. La Belle Croix, or the The Belle Cross. I feel like I am carrying a cross for Belle.


50 Miles – Royan Ferry

Took the ferry from Royan to Verdon-Sur-Mer. Ferry took cars and other vehicles. On board I met Christian and Lisa who were on a touring holiday thought France. Each year they cycled a new part of France that they had not travelled before.


20th May 2014 –


Route: #Long Bike Ride

Activity: Cycle

Explorer Link:

Import Link:

Started: 20 May 2014, 09:33:51

Ride Time: 5:52:50

Stopped Time: 1:44:44

Distance: 66.65 miles

Average Speed: 11.33 mph

Fastest Speed: 24.58 mph

Ascent: 1781

Descent: 1738

Calories: 1941

Bike: Surly LHT

Notes: Montalivet to Bordeaux

Gps went wrong at 41 miles!

Supposed to stay at a Warm Showers host, but unfortunately they were ill. Met up with Mountain Biker ont he way out of the city who took me home.


20th May 2014 – Continued


Route: #Long Bike Ride

Activity: Cycle

Explorer Link:

Import Link:

Started: 20 May 2014, 18:44:19

Ride Time: 53:38

Stopped Time: 2:39:36

Distance: 10.93 miles

Average Speed: 12.23 mph

Fastest Speed: 22.38 mph

Ascent: 585

Descent: 503

Calories: 488

Bike: Surly LHT

Notes: Bordeaux to Bouliac with Mountain Biker from Bordeaux.



21st May 2014 –


Route: #Long Bike Ride

Activity: Cycle

Explorer Link:

Import Link:

Started: 21 May 2014, 08:01:14

Ride Time: 8:35:41

Stopped Time: 5:37:11

Distance: 81.41 miles

Average Speed: 9.47 mph

Fastest Speed: 31.63 mph

Ascent: 3644

Descent: 3788

Calories: 3748

Bike: Surly LHT

Notes: Bouliac to Buzet-sur-Baise



22nd May 2014 –


Route: #Long Bike Ride

Activity: Cycle

Explorer Link:

Import Link:

Started: 22 May 2014, 10:26:15

Ride Time: 4:56:44

Stopped Time: 5:44:06

Distance: 66.43 miles

Average Speed: 13.43 mph

Fastest Speed: 22.44 mph

Ascent: 1677

Descent: 1403

Calories: 3006

Bike: Surly LHT

Notes: Buzet-sur-Baise to Montech


23rd May 2014 –


Route: #Long Bike Ride

Activity: Cycle

Explorer Link:

Import Link:

Started: 23 May 2014, 08:30:36

Ride Time: 5:59:02

Stopped Time: 6:46:58

Distance: 74.82 miles

Average Speed: 12.50 mph

Fastest Speed: 28.76 mph

Ascent: 4201

Descent: 4020

Calories: 3321

Bike: Surly LHT

Notes: Montech, through Toulouse to Castelnaudary, where I stayed with Geraldine and her husband on the boat after asking them where the shower was.


24th May 2014 –


Route: #Long Bike Ride

Activity: Cycle

Explorer Link:

Import Link:

Started: 24 May 2014, 09:39:20

Ride Time: 6:07:00

Stopped Time: 5:32:03

Distance: 75.22 miles

Average Speed: 12.30 mph

Fastest Speed: 29.87 mph

Ascent: 3087

Descent: 2851

Calories: 3186

Bike: Surly LHT

Notes: Castelnaudary to Olargues and the workaway hosts.