Route.

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A week today I’ll set off from home on my long awaited London to Paris cycle. It seems to have been in the planning stage for an eternity, but now I’m almost there, and I think I’m ready for it…

Being the procrastinator that I am, I’ve managed to put off sorting out the route until today. Given the importance of knowing what route you’re taking when cycling between two capital cities, I should probably have got round to this earlier, rather than leaving it until 7 days before my departure.

Plotting a route, transferring it onto the computer, and then onto a GPS, is a lot more complicated than it probably should be. I started with some brilliant PDF instructions provided free of charge on Donald Hirsch’s website ( http://www.donaldhirsch.com/dieppeparis.html ), and drew out the route onto a couple of 1:150,000 scale Michelin maps. I’ll take these with me, as I think it may be a little foolish to rely solely on a GPS.

The next step was to transfer this route onto the computer, using Garmin’s MapSource software,  onto which I’ve loaded some brilliant, free, open source mapping. Rather than spending a fortune on Garmin’s official maps, you can visit http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl/ and download navigable maps for any country on the planet, free of charge. As well as being compatible with MapSource on the computer, for routing purposes, these can also be installed on any Garmin GPS.

Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as plotting the entire route, saving it as a .gpx file, and loading it onto the GPS. My GPS will only accept routes with a maximum of 50 waypoints. So I’ve had to split the journey into smaller chunks, each having fewer than 50 waypoints, otherwise it’ll refuse to calculate the route.

So, as it stands at the moment, I’ve saved five sections of the route, taking me from my starting point of Provost Street, London, down to Marines, France, which is a total of 252.6km. From there, it’ll be a relatively short cycle into Paris to finish the ride.

Rather worryingly, my first day, from London down to Newhaven on the south coast, is a 120km cycle. Over the South Downs. I’m hoping I haven’t been too ambitious with day 1. But reassuringly, this isn’t the furthest I’ve cycled in a day with a fully laden bike (Lincoln to York was further), and I’ll have an entire day and can take it at an easy pace. Day 1 will probably be split in half, with a 60km morning, a long rest at lunch, and then 60km in the afternoon. With breaks after 30km as well. Also, the following day is a very easy one, as I’ll spend the majority of it on the ferry, and will only have 35km or so to complete on the French side before stopping for the night at a campsite in Neufchatel-en-Bray.

All that’s left to complete now is the final section from Marines into central Paris (finishing under the Eiffel Tower!), and I’ll be more or less ready to go. I’m feeling a brilliant mix of excitement, nervousness, and anticipation.

This week at work will fly by, and before I know it I’ll be pedaling off the drive and beginning my adventure.

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