Up very early today as we were required to be packed, had breakfast and be ready to roll at 6.30 am. We were heading from Lewes to Newhaven to catch the ferry over to Dieppe ( France).
Moods were soured early as three of the riders had lights and tool kits stolen from their bikes overnight. The bikes had been in the hotel conference room so quite odd.
As we set off I immediately regretted having bare legs and not having my merino leggings on. It was brass monkey weather.
Once at the ferry terminal we needed to present ourselves to English border officials and have our passports checked for departure. We then went through a security check which was quite funny. “Are you carrying a barbecue gas bottle?” I wanted to give a flippant answer but thought better of it! Not sure where that would go on my bike.
We then had to stand around for ages in the cold. Phil tried to keep me warm.
Fortunately all the bike riders were first onto the ferry. There were plenty of other riders not from our group as well. Our bikes are up on the row against the far well, left hand corner, so we were going no where fast once the doors opened at Dieppe.
Views from the ferry as we departed Newhaven.
It takes four hours for the ferry to travel this section of the Channel. We spent that time chilling out with John and Phil. We would be saying goodbye to the as they are leading the London to Paris ride and not riding as far when they get off the boat. We ride an additional 38 km past where they are staying. We hopefully will see John in Venice as he heads off to lead the ride to Dubrovnic.
We then needed to get through French border patrol. Most of the riders cruised through but those with Australian passports took a lot longer as there were extra checks carried out. We all passed with flying colours and were soon on the road.
Leaving Dieppe we followed the waterfront.
Then there was a left hand turn that was a shocker. It was very steep, particularly when your legs have not yet warmed up. I was not sure I was going to make it but given I was cleated in and the pedals were under full load I did not think I would be able to uncleat without falling off so I just kept plugging away.
As we headed out of town we climbed a couple of hills passing through Thibermont, Martin-Eglise and Saint Aubin-Le-Cauf. Then there was John standing on the side of the road to ensure that the riders did not miss the turn onto Avenue Verte.
The Avenue Verte is a bike path constructed on a disused railway line. We followed it for 24 miles and it features beautiful bitumen, regular crossings through little villages, picnic areas and the occasional cafe. It is fairly flat.
We left the path shortly before Forges Les Eaux and it felt great to be cruising on the road at faster speed. We knocked the last 19 km off much quicker. It had been a long day and we were keen to get to our hotel at Gournay En Bray.
There are around 50-60 cyclists here from various tour groups and the hotel has dedicated bike storage rooms with bike racks.
All the cyclists were catered for with a buffet tea which was pretty ok. Tony was pretty peeved though paying 3 euro for a tiny bottle of coke. Maybe he should stick to water.