Slightly different trip this time. This will be my first tour with a riding buddy. After a few bottles of wine, Paul, my father (ex) in law (outlaw) promised to come on the next trip.
Before he could retract his wine fuelled promise I’d volunteered my old bike packing rig for him to ride, removing the easiest excuse to withdraw from the expedition.
The plan for this one partly came from having completed my circumnavigation of France last year and deciding that the diagonals should be next, and partly from a mate noting that the Tour de France had a stage starting where he lives in Ceret – that it should be a damn good excuse to do biking and beer based activities. Game on, subject to COVID.
I must admit, we’re are pushing the rules a little, not breaking them. We are both vaccinated and feel that travel to a country with lower COVID rates than at home is perfectly reasonable, regardless of out illustrious government’s approach. So screw ‘em.
Paul has some work things to attend to before being able to escape – the plan is for him to train down and catch up for the second, possibly more interesting, half of the trip. This works really well from my perspective – almost a gentle break into the concept of having a riding buddy but also some time to myself to reflect and de-stress from work.
I began early, heading for a 7am train to Dover, fearing a complex process of presenting my medical, ethical, promissory and regulatory credentials to cross into France. As it happened, it was smooth sailing all the way through and I even managed a lifetime first for me; a ferry crossing which both left and arrived exactly on time.
Rolling out of the ferry port I found myself laughing, grinning like the proverbial Cheshire Cat, muttering happily to myself as I left behind work and customs officers, the sense of freedom seeping in already.
Today was a nice gentle start, rolling hills, 25 miles along the coast to Boulanger sur Mer and an Airbnb from where I will venture south tomorrow. France playing in Euro 2020 tonight and the prospect of lively bars may mean a sluggish start tomorrow.
Here are a couple of videos of today’s riding;
As predicted, today was a late start. I didn’t get away until 11am having spent an enjoyable evening in a local bar chatting to a couple of French lads while watching France vs Switzerland.
I made good time though and was 38 miles in before stopping for lunch. A quick brewing of some decent coffee providing a welcome energy boost, along with a pasta bolognais dry meal.
Most of the route was flat. The few hills were left behind on the coast as turning south I picked up the banks of the Somme river. The grey clouds held off depositing their content for most of the day and I was feeling good as I reached my planned destination of a campsite. I still had a couple of hours decent riding light so decided to push on to Amiens. With the weather starting to close in a little I grabbed a hotel and wheeled my bike into the lobby of the Holiday Inn Express just as England were scoring their second goal against Germany.