Breakfast. Most important meal of the day, especially when there?s a fair amount of cycling to be done.
There is very little more annoying than a disappointing hotel breakfast. My colleague Ed is quite right when he says he?d rather pay an extra ten euros to have a proper buffet spread instead of the shambolic, corner-cutting scrimp-fest we had to suffer this morning.
I was down in the dining room first and the proprietor of Hotel Costcutter brought over a basket containing two rolls and four slices of bread, together with a plate that had two slices of ham and three slices of cheese on.
When Ed arrived did the man bring the same again? Or did he expect us to share?
And did he look witheringly at Ed when he requested a pot of coffee for himself instead of slugging the dregs out of mine?
I was reminded of the scene from Alan Partridge when he says, pulling his own plate from a bag: ?You know it?s an all-you-can eat breakfast buffet but from a nine-inch plate? Look at that?. 12 inches.?
It wasn?t the worst hotel breakfast I?ve ever eaten ? that honour goes to an Etap Hotel in France where breakfast came out of a vending machine. But there were no fat, buttery croissants. Or fresh milk without a grumble.
Why do hotels supply tiny glasses to decant the fresh orange juice into? All I do is use a mug. Nick one from another table if necessary. Or I use two or three glasses. If I thought it would stun certain hotels out of their stinginess I think I?d like to arrive down for breakfast one morning with a bucket and fill it to the brim with juice.
Using yesterday?s bread for breakfast is a crime. Not having fresh milk for cereal likewise.
Are they really saving money doing that?
Well, this morning I looked at the man who huffed when we asked for milk and thought: ?Well, would YOU eat this??
The problem with a pre-ride breakfast is that there?s a tricky balance to be struck. You tend to eat at, say, 8am and you?re not ready to ride until about 9.30 or 10. After an hour of cycling you tend to feel peckish again, so a proper fuel-up is imperative.
Mind you, this was a hotel where the owner ? wearing one of those white chef?s jackets ? looked at us as if we?d just ridden down from the moon when we asked if we could take our bikes to our rooms overnight.
It was even more bizarre that when he offered to put them in the garage, he had a tip-top race bike hanging on the wall. You?d have thought a cyclist would appreciate the risks of leaving thousands of quids? worth of carbon-fibre in the lobby.
We started our day in Holland and finished it in Belgium and a feature about our Classic exploits will appear in the May issue of our sister magazine, Cycle Sport, which goes on sale on April 5.
Let?s just say we rode more than 50 miles with the mercury sitting around the one degree mark and the lack of a filling breakfast made life a lot harder than it needed to be.
On the up side, today?s distance was far in excess of the written training plan although the amount I went into the red makes over-training a possibility.
Distance covered: 82 kilometres (50.9 miles)
Average core body temperature: dangerously low