What a day that was. Being the last group to start we rolled out at a leisurely sounding 10am, by which time the sun was well up and we were looking at temperatures in the low twenties – sounds idyllic and it was.
Calais is not the prettiest of towns, and we were all pleased to quickly leave the drab buildings behind on our winding 169m route to Amiens.
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Whoever came up with the route deserves a pat on the back as it took in a selection of quiet, winding lanes mostly through fields with a few rolling hills and woods thrown in for good measure – glorious.
Turns out I did fail to collect my legs when I left the hotel in the morning. Every time the pace went up I’d ask for more but was left wanting.
I think I counted six french motorbikes providing us with a rolling road closure each time we got to a junction we’d find a friendly face pointing the correct way and the motorbike blocking traffic.
With the sun beating down and the French countryside opening up before us it genuinely felt as close to taking part in the Tour de France as I think I’ll ever come. I certainly have a new respect for those guys who go in the early break hoping to stay away until the end – the French roads are open, hot and energy sapping, not the place to be struggling.
We finished the day with an exciting flurry thanks to one of our two road captains. As we turned off a hill into a right-hander he found that his rear tyre had gone flat, the subsequent oversteer was caught, traffic island jumped, passing car avoided, road grating clipped and the front wheel deflated before a tactical dismount over the bars, onto the grass. Very impressive stuff.