Now with extra edited goodness
The second day dawned too early and definitely too shakily for me. After scoffing breakfasts of crepes, cake, croissants, coffee, cereal and cyoghurt we headed to the outskirts of Calais to begin pedalling.
There were some really lovely climbs through almost switchback bends, which then turned into cracking descents along similar bends. I'm going to admit it. I love climbing. It's hard, it makes the heart race, it hurts, it strains and you get to the top and it's just bleeding fantastic.
Then you get the rush down the other side. And what rushes they were. The roads were our tarmac roller coaster as we scythed through smooth bends chevroned with warnings that were gently heeded, as our caliper brakes weren't going to heed them any more than that even if we wished.
There's something great about doing 45/50mph with tyres less than an inch wide underneath you, every movement is amplified. The corners were taken by picking the entry point, setting the speed and then, for me anyway, turning in and just sitting my elbow onto my protruding knee on the inner side to keep the bars composed as the bike tipped in.It felt so lovely and fluid. Whether it appeared graceful I know not but it certainly felt it.
The roads started to become tree lined, and passing alongside the trees as they cut through the fields was very timeless.
The feeling in the group was good, and the mood was that of being content with the weather and the route. We met up with support group again for lunch, and all sat around in the car park of a small supermarket to eat our baguettes, cheese, meat and ice creams.
Post-lunch and feeling satiated things were even better, and smiles were never far away.
We even had a few sprints to brighten up the afternoon. Jay and I had swapped bikes at this point and I just pipped him.
Soon the signs began to reveal that we were getting quite close to our chosen stop for the night. The climbs were more frequent also as the road rose and fell across the plains.
The road, although it was straight, really did seem to peak and trough through the countryside and there were a couple of real doozies of climbs that seemed to go on for a very long time.
How we Fenland boys managed without getting vertigo, I don't know.
Whilst the scenery was mainly arable fields, there was the occasional interesting landmark crop up that caught the eye. I wonder who decided to paint the water tower here?
We met up with the support crew just outside of Arras and with a little direction got into our hotel. That evening we headed into town for a slap up meal and for me a culinary first in trying chicken gizzards in a salad. Very tasty.
Distance for the day was around 70 miles
3 weeks ago