Proposed Route: Poole-Cherbourg (ferry crossing); Cherbourg-Bayeux
Estimated Mileage: 56 miles/95 km
Actual Route: Cherbourg-Bayeux
Mileage Covered: 59.88 miles/99 km
Average cycling speed: 18.01 mph
Maximum speed: 37.1 mph
Cycling time: 3 hours 55 minutes.
Terrain: Undulating ridge, fairly flat.
Weather: Cloudy with some torrential rain. Wind SW Force 2-3.
Degree of Difficulty:
all the excitement of yesterday, the toughish ride from Topsham to Poole, and
an extended and most enjoyable dinner in the campsite with the Summit team of
riders Chris B, Paul and support driver Chris C, as well as Phil and our good
friend John who came up to join us and to take Phil home, we got to bed rather
later than planned but slept marvellously well in the luxurious comfort of Plymouth
Motorcaravan's splendid Peugeot Compass Drifter.
The ferry crossing from Poole to Cherbourg was uneventful, the crossing smooth if under grey skies. On disembarking from the boat at 2:15 local time, we immediately began cycling. We chose today to ride our fast Orbit America racing bikes instead of our more comfortable and forgiving touring bikes (Nello's Bob Jackson and my Mercian), the correct decision given the ease of the terrain. The only tough hill was a 3 mile climb out of Cherbourg itself, then we settled down to a brisk ride along an undulating high ridge that extends down the Cotentin Peninsula, passing along the way numerous cemetaries for American, German and British war dead, sad reminders that this stretch of the coast was the scene of such fierce fighting during the Normandy invasions in the last World War.
Our destination today, of course, is a reminder of a much earlier invasion: Bayeux, with its magnificent tapestry detailing the Norman Conquest of Britain in 1066. Today, there seemed to be something of an invasion of a different sorts, as English classic sports cars zoomed past us on the national road: mostly soft-tops with folks in Biggles-style leather helmets and long scarves, all heading down, we imagine, to LeMans for the famous 24 hour endurance race. Our endurance event, of course, is not a race but it is an equally challenging endeavour all the same, the distance before us, the days and hours in the saddle, and the mountains still to climb extremely daunting to say the least.
Still, we are on the Continent now, we've left the sea and will not reach it again until we arrive at the Venetian Lagoon and today's ride allowed us to stretch our legs and test our bikes at a pretty cracking pace on French roads. Apart from a torrential shower that soaked us just before our arrival in Bayeux, the day's ride was wholly enjoyable, and our support routine with Hugh and Harry is already developing an excellent understanding. As we sit in the van now relaxing around the table, though, it still feels like today is but an aperitif or should I say an aperitivo to the challenge that still lies before us.
The menu tonight: melon followed by pennette saporite -- penne with spicy tomato sauce made with capers, hot chilies, and garlic.
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