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Planet X cycle touring in France

Planet X cycle touring in France

" Votre vélo rose. C'est très joli." The man at the EuroStar dispatch at Paris du Nord train station was not especially handsome but I quickly found I had a soft spot for him. "Oui," I said as I smiled broadly. "She is beautiful and she rides like a dream!" (My French isn’t good enough to say that sentence and I didn’t want it to come out all wrong!)

The pretty pink bike is my Planet X Pro Carbon road bike – and last week the Pink Panther, as she’s known, and I enjoyed a brilliant adventure riding the new Veloscenic bike route from Paris to Mont St Michel.

The route travels around 400km through flat northern France following a multitude of quiet country roads, cycle paths, green ways and the occasional section of off road terrain. With a pannier rack (suited to road racers) fitted to the pink frame I was able to attach two Ortileb pannier bags (in a vibrant bright yellow), in which I stuffed a few important holiday clothing items.

Cycle touring on a Planet X
Key to cycle touring holidays is a minimalist approach to packing. Just two pairs of cycle shorts, one cycle vest, arm warmers, one set of going out for dinner wear (i.e. a short skirt, t-shirt and very lightweight trainers) and a small selection of underwear saw me through a week of cycling. I washed clothes each night and used toiletries as though I would never see them again.

But even with lighter weight panniers to carry, the Planet X felt odd to ride to start with. I had tried to evenly balance the weight of my kit between the two bags but even so when I came out if my saddle to go uphill the weight at the back end felt crappity. Fortunately it didn't take long to become accustomed to this back weight and soon I had adopted what I call "cycle touring speed".  This is not a slow pace but it is also not a fast pace. It is a pace that gives you a sense of purpose and directness but also allows you to enjoy a journey.

And after all, this was a holiday. With my old cycling pal Skinny H, the holiday-journey was a chance to kick back and enjoy an adventure on two wheels through a glorious area of Europe. We are  both journalists are were hosted by La Manche West Normandie, who are behind this new Veloscenic bike route project . We also enjoyed free travel on Eurostar and Virgin trains, as well as all the accommodation and evening meals.

Stunning French cycle route
The Velosceinc does what it says in the title. It offers hundreds of kilometres of scenic cycling. We enjoyed picturesque scenery, more castles and churches than one small area of Europe should fairly home, stunning fields of barley, gorgeously colourful wild flowers, welcoming cafes, impressive French cuisine, superbly hospitable B&Bs and hotels and oodles and oodles of blue skies and sunshine. If I had asked the God of Cycling Weather to take favour on our trip I can't imagine a better result.

Okay, so I know that Britain was basking in similar sunshine but when every day is a cycling day and work is on the back burner it felt luxurious to be in France and on my Planet X. That pink dude of a bike enjoyed the trip, too. She rolled beautifully along smooth tarmac roads (have the French taken all the British tarmac, too?!); did a dream job on the small ascents and sped downhill with grace. She coped well with gritty off road trails and even managed a few gnarly trails (although I didn't put her through too much stress.)

Click here to view the full range of Planet X Pro Carbon Road Bikes and buy now!


Who wrote this?
Fiona Russell, aka Fiona Outdoors, is a press and on-line journalist and a professional blogger. She writes, mostly, about the great outdoors, adventure, sports and fitness. She has a weekly outdoors column in the Sunday Mail. She is based in Glasgow and is a single mum of a teenage (non-sporty!) daughter. Fiona is currently in pursuit of the World Age Group Triathlon World Championships. We spotted her blog writing at and have offered her a sponsorship as a blogging triathlete. She now has a Planet X TT Stealth bike and will be writing about her training and racing in the coming year. 

30 July 2013

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