Saturday, 15 September 2012

Detour De France (Pt 1 heading South)

To Paris - using the Polocini sat-Nav method
Or to call it by it's official title 'London2Paris2London' a cunningly named ride from our great city to Paris and back, and all in aid of the carers Trust.
I should mention all those that made this ride a goer and kept us going, but I'm not going to. I'll just say that those, and they know who they are were great.
Anyroadup to the ride. Day one was a 70 miler from Greenwich to Folkstone, followed by a 45 mile leg from Calais to St Omer for our overnight stop. Our day was looking like a cracker, the sun was out, the wind was in and spirits were high. But before we could get going we had a bit of PR to do. This meant a quick 5 mile dash across town to meet with representatives from the charity, a geezer from the press and a smiling politician, sadly we didn't have a baby for him to hug! I must add that we had shit loads of well wishes from the London cycling crowd on the was to the start. And they say Londoners are miserable?
With the shoot done and tyres squeezed one more time we were off. Jason set the pace, plus he was the only one with a Garmin so no choice really. He was going at a fair old crack, but I put that down to him exorcising the frustrations of the months and months of planning.
Just miles in we lost someone. No one important like, just the bloke who was meant to be guiding us, handing us drinks, carrying spares and wot nots. I won't mention his name or company, but he was on a fair old bung to do this job. There's a word in the English language 'omen' this was the absolute dictionary definition  of that word. So off we set all alone in a sort of point South and follow the sun type of way, a way that coincidentally followed that ancient well trodden path called the A20. Following the A20 wasn't that bad actually, until we hit the paralympics! and had to follow a hilly detour where a nice policeman on a motorcycle guided our way. Where our motorcycle guide was I don't know? But at the end of the detour we found Tom and Toby waiting for us with food and drink laid out, chairs at the ready. Even at this early stage it was nice to see the guys that were keeping this thing going. We sat and chatted, took on food and waited for the whole team to assemble including the AWOL guide before making a dash for Folkstone. We moved on quick sticks and in good order, and hit the town of Eurotunnel in no time. We had a five minute sarnie stop where Craigs rear tyre went pop. Rather than repair it we stuck him on the van and the rest of us rode to the shuttle. Even though the crossing is a quick one myself and Joe managed a good nap....age you see.
Follow me I'm right behind you!
Then before we knew it we were in France. We had a quick re group, a good chat and set off for the hotel.
Something felt wrong. I've ridden this coast line may times and the wind has always been in my face when heading south so why was it in my face now? Answer = because we were being guided the wrong way. After a quick turnabout we blasted it to St Omer. Sadly the poor guiding and detours meant we were riding to our overnight stop in darkness. Never mind though we were all in great spirits. Then I saw it, the hotel but no it couldn't have been our one because we sailed on right past it. On we went along a great road with the river beside us and up into our first town to give us a chance to ride on Pavé. If you haven't ridden pavé the novelty wears off in the first few feet. We are then brought to a halt by our hapless guide, seems we have missed the shit Sherlock, could it be the one we passed a while back? So back along the pavé down a one way street the wrong way and we see our support team waving us home. With the evening drawing in we shower quickly and head to the restaurant. Tom gets a round in which is more than welcome.
All done in we sit down to some great banter and wonderful food. We are all hoping that the next day is going to be as good as or better than today, it's the big one, the 160 miler to Paris and we need the weather Gods on our side. Food, drink and scenery all taken in we hit the sack.
Today France tomorrow the world
Until tomorrow gentlemen.

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