Thursday 28 July 2011

FNRttC - Newhaven - Dieppe

Previously I wrote:

"In Newhaven, we have the most fantastic breakfast cafe.  That cafe is like a negative control in an experiment.  It has no style (a cabin), no decor (white walls), no scenery (underneath a flyover).  The question in the experiment is 'how do you rate your breakfast'.  The idea being that you are not influenced by external factors.  Unfortunately this experiment will always fail when the 'subjects' are the Fridays.  When having breakfast with the Fridays after a night ride, it doesn't matter where you are or what the breakfast is like. It is always a memorable experience."

The experiment came to a conclusion.  The Pitstop Cafe closed down.

We went to the Captain's Table Cafe instead.  It is located by the sea, has decor (see picture below) and the service was excellent, even though we arrived en masse unannounced.

What's so funny?
I feel like I've been on a three week holiday.  There was a bit of a buzz about the FNRttC.  It was a recipe for adventure.  Going on a Thursday night, as opposed to Friday.  A smaller group, which means going faster.  Not knowing whether we'd be allowed into Gatwick Airport.  It wasn't looking good as we were stopped by police.  The group was like a lava lamp, with everyone slowing, silently, but the inner core moving on ahead .  The inner core did the talking and off we went for a Costa coffee.  I didn't want to be disappointed by the customer service possibly having improved on last year, so went to M&S, who now offer coffee also.  It was busy at Gatwick.  There wasn't the usual middle of the night ghostliness about it. Building work is going on, I guess in preparation for the Olympics.

Then there was the Left Legg Bandage Plot.  That was a bit like a lava lamp phenomenon also.  Gradually, you would recognise something similar about a gathering of cyclists at the Lindfield regroup.  It was a birthday treat for Mr Legg, whose trademark is a bandage around the left knee.

The 'Plotters'?
After breakfast, it was time for the next adventure, which was getting onto the ferry.  Some bikes posed as bikes, some as motor bikes and some as plain luggage.  We all got on.  I had a good snooze.

We disembarked and the group dispersed.  I went off to Evreux, which was the start of my last long ride before PBP.  The Saturday ride was planned to cover the miles and not get distracted.  That plan worked in that I took very few pictures.  I had 'adventures' though, when I found myself off road, or backtracking miles because my lovely laney route was cut off by highway fencing with no way through.  I came across a Gatwick like checkpoint also but didn't get stopped.  Les gendarmes had reason to question me though, as I was not wearing a reflective vest.  Instead, they didn't move an inch and smiled nodding as I sailed past them.

I asked for directions a couple of times.  Towards the end of the evening, I couldn't help myself anymore and asked 'Le Tour, qui a gagné?'.  I chose the right person to ask, because the guy was smoking a cigar and kept shouting at his German Shepherd dog to keep away from me.  Whilst doing both of those, he uttered something like 'Hhkariy Afhawe'.  I was ready to say 'merci', when he explained: 'L' Australien!'.

Here is the profile of the ride:

In Amiens, on the Somme, you go below sea level.  After reaching the Béthune region the profile is flat and I was flying!  Top gear all the way!  I went through Armentières, Comines, Wervik, Geluwe, Dadizele and home.  I liked that route very much. It has a special feel around Comines-Wervik.  Next year, when I don't have the need for miles (famous last words!), I might work out a fast route to the border, then meander around there early evening.   Could work as a trip from Dunkerque also.

I was pleased to have arrived home at a civilised time.  My parents were up waiting for me. We chatted, and we chatted and laughed some more the next day.  I was spoilt with the best dish of chicon au gratin and a perfect meringuetaart as desert.  We watched the final stage of  le tour and enjoyed Cav and HTC's amazing success.

I travelled back to the UK on the Eurostar, wheel in hand.  The female security officer asked: 'Où est le reste?'.  How funny, when, if I had brought the complete bike, it would have been trouble.  I laughed of course: 'Je l'ai perdu!'

What a weekend!  Three weeks worth of cycling, adventure, countries, culture, food and entertainment.

Photos are on the slideshow till the next ride, or here: Clicky

Other thoughts:

  • two falls
  • two thunderstorms
  • two punctures
  • after fields, fields, fields, coming into Rouen must have been quite dramatic way back
  • going through many villages with old castles and churches, reminded me of 'La Chasse aux Trésors', with Philippe de Dieuleveult
  • none of the cafes I went into showing le tour, horse racing instead
  • redundant question: 'so would we do it again next year?'


Anonymous said...

Wat een pittig verslag van je belevenissen op je fietstocht. Je bent nu zeker goed voorbereid op PBP. Voor ons was de highlight het lichtje van je fiets op te merken toen je de poort van t oveke binnenreed!!! We hebben zo genoten van je verblijf. Op nu naar PBP!!!
Tot in augustus met het herstelde wiel!!
Xxx xxx

Kris said...

Ik herinner me vooral je " survival" skills ivm met burning tighs en tubes steken; met schaafwonden 't licht van de tunnel eindelijk terugzien nadat je in Alice in Wonderland getuimeld was.Een geslaagde literaire mix van audax realisme en visueel surrealisme!
En proficiat met de honingoogst!groetjes xx

Swarm_Catcher said...

Ah yes, I forgot about me using maize leaves to stop the burning on my legs! After grazes, blood, grease, and maize leaves, I felt messy. I must have looked it too! Nice comment Kris :)