I have this dream for France next year: that about June when it warms up, I am going to buy a touring bike and paniers and start cycling and camping.
There are all sorts of reasons why this is not realistic. I am just a bit of a slow commuter cyclist at present and I can number on one hand the days I have had camping luggage on the back of my bike. When it is windy I readily can out of cycling. But the dream persists.
It just had a lift this week when I read a book about a 50-something woman who walked across France - "Best Foot Forward: from La Rochelle to Lake Geneva - the misadventures of an Englishwoman." Susie Kelly decided on this walk.... bought some good boots, a tent and poncho, found someone to look after her animals and set off. She got horrendous blisters but somehow wrapped them up and kept going, despite a tent that leaked, a way too thin sleeping bag, and an ineffective poncho. She ended with a huge sense of achievement. I figure if she can do that walking, I must be able to manage cycling the same kind of distances. One thing her book showed me was that municipal camping grounds in France really do exist in many small villages. So I wouldn't have to go far each day!!!
Anyhow today I did some "training". I love it when I wake up on a Sunday morning and it is calm: it is often my cue to head out of town a little on my bicycle. It wasn't sunny this morning though and I was expecting rain. I put on my new 'high visibility' jacket and set off. I left town via Milson Line, down to Kairanga-Bunnythorpe Rd, flat all the way on the Manawatu Plains. Then I cycled across to Bunnythorpe and home via a slightly more hilly road that joined back onto the end of Vogel St. 18.27km in one hour. Not a speedster, but I was pleased to find the hills were not too much of a problem: my regular commuting to work by bicycle this year must be having a few fitness benefits. It didn't even rain much - it was just the last few kms before home that tested out the waterproofness of my jacket! A pleasant way to spend a Sunday morning.