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CaRott – day one’s shenanigans

Distance trips never turn out how you think they will – this is the beauty of them. For example, I expected to do some free-camping but in the end we did none. Enough about want we didn’t do, there is plenty that we did achieve and many moments where we dug deep to push our limits and reach our goals.

Calais: Pre-departure
I was warmly welcomed to Calais by Phildar, his girlfriend and another longboarder Nik who was visiting for the weekend. Together they made up the Calais longboarding massive.

It was great being shown around the town by locals and I really enjoyed meeting another fellow blogger/longboarder.

The welcome they gave me was a fantastic start to the trip. The evening flew by so quickly that we almost forgot about picking up Tim from the station. As we were a little behind schedule only Jochem was awake amongst our Dutch contingency. We quickly went for a drink before heading off for the night! Lucky them…

As you can see from the above picture, that night was foggy. This didn’t help either Jochem or Jesse sleep seeing as the fog horns were going off all night.

Day 1: Calais to Camping Amazone (Koksijde) – 87km
It’s funny how a lot of planning goes into trips, no matter how small they are and it feels a little strange when the planning finishes and the doing begins…

We met up for breakfast (carbo-loading) with Jochem, Jesse and a journalist who wanted to find out in more detail what our trip was about. At around 10.00 we were joined by some rather hung-over looking locals (Phildar and Co) who’d stayed up until the early hours.

Having finished our coffees, we shouldered our bags and got ready for the off. A little convoy of six longboarders then left the centre of Calais under the curious gazes of the town folk.

We made quick progress at first thanks to local knowledge of the roads but soon it was time to say our farewells to our hosts.

After about a kilometre we ran into some difficulty with our route. Where on the map was marked a lovely quiet lane hugging the coast, in reality it was a gravel walking path which we started walking along. We kept on thinking, soon this will turn into something skateable, it however stayed like this defeating even Jesse’s 97mm ABEC11s…

Two woody's and some rough

I was determined to show off the best views possible using the quietest roads with the best rolling surfaces. We would have to make the detour to go and check out the aluminium smelting factory.

Again the map provided some entertainment by directing us into the factory’s carpark. As we were slightly lost and obviously trespassing (having ambiguously rolled through the gate and a sign saying cameras) it wasn’t long before security came along. I asked directions from the bemused looking guard. The route we wanted ran parallel to the fence of the carpark and we should just follow it. The ‘road’, was of wasteland quality and full of shiny bits of aluminium slag – once again we were walking.

After about another kilometre, we spotted a hole in the fence and decided that it would be much quicker to use the service road on the other side.

We're not stealing slag

Five minutes later, we reached a security checkpoint on the other side of the compound where a guard asked “what boat are you from?”. I then proceeded to explain the other guard’s instructions and with a “tut” we were waved on our way.

Our route then followed a very long causeway along which we ‘raced’ an oil tanker being pulled along by two tug boats. Below is Jesse in full flow catching up the beast…

It was a race that we clearly won but little did we know that the tanker would have the last word. The end of the causeway joined the mainland by means of a bridge which was open so we couldn’t get through. Between the causeway and Dunkerque was a giant sea lock.

We had to wait around an hour and a half for the bridge to be lowered once again so that we could cross. It’s always fun to wait amongst motorbikes and cars for bridges to open and traffic lights to turn green to see people wondering what we’re up to.

At this point in the day the fact we were behind schedule was clearly being felt. We’d done lots of walking, been let down many times by the map and all we really wanted was to get out of France and into Belgium. At 7pm we finally crossed the border.

It was certainly my first border crossing made on a longboard and it lifted our spirits. We came across our first cycle paths and adverts for Duvel as well as the customary cafés selling moules-frites. The beach-front made a nice setting for nightfall.

After 87km we called it a day and put up our tents at Camping Amazone which is around 5km from Neuport.

Stay posted for the write-up of the next days which is coming soon!







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