Spring finally seems to have descended upon Northern Europe and with it the interminable rain has given us a little respite. We are almost ready for our first ride of the year at World At My Cleats - a comfortable long weekend traversing the Normandy Peninsula and covering 250 miles or so - 4 days & 3 nights. We'll be staying at an historical chateau, an auberge in the marshlands approaching Mont St. Michel and we also have the good fortune to be guest at the home of one of the regions' highly accomplished chefs. All in all it should be a compelling occasion during which many new friends will be made (and not too many lost).
With our eclectic group of 40, 50 & 60 year olds (I am the sole member of the latter group) it will be very important to keep the group together and moving along at a decent (if undemanding) pace. Let's not forget than there will be those among us who include one or two desk jockeys who have used the recent spate of bad weather as a poor excuse to skip training. We will try and settle in at a steady 14.5 mph and hope for not too much opposition in the way of headwinds. At this point in time it has been very encouraging to see one or two of our party get out into the elements to get a little extra training time. We have also commissioned some highly visible tour shirts in powder blue shirts to avoid any stragglers getting lost in fog rolling in from the Atlantic.
So, it would appear, that (nearly) everyone is in tip-top condition, raring to go and ready to be squeezed into their ‘road warrior’ lycra. What could possibly go wrong? Well - plenty and we have done our level best to mitigate the risks and ensure that everyone gets a memorable ride in equally memorable surroundings. Our rescue van, manned by the redoubtable Edward will be within shouting distance of the ever moving peloton as we cycle along our historical route. Starting off at Pegasus Bridge near Caen we will head toward Arromanche (destination of the Churchill-ian Mulberry Harbour) and then on through the impressive ville that is Bayeux and finally onto the Chateau du Roc for a little R&R. The next day will see the group heading toward the coast and into Brittany where we will be heading for Ardervon in the salt marshes under the watchful eye of the Mont St Michel. The next day we’ll head back inland toward St. Lo and nearby Dangy to be wined and dined (courtesy of WeloveNormandy.com). Our last day’s ride will be along the D Day beaches, a late lunch in Ouistreham and home on the evening tide to dear old blighty.
I sincerely hope it is going to be as memorable as it deserves and participants will hopefully benefit from the preparation that has gone into ‘pre-tour’. I have catalogued some of our build up in the fervent hope that similar parties will take advantage of some of the pre-requisites. Here are my top tips for cycling abroad
1) Get your bike serviced in good time to return to the shop for last minute adjustments
2) Get in a few extra miles before you go. 60-70 miles might sound easy if you say it quickly but four days on the trot might take its toll
3) Take spare kit to change into – no-one likes to eat his moules frites sitting next to a rancid mamil
4) Make sure some of it is waterproof (the kit not the moules frites)
5) You will sweat so take plenty of water preferably with electrolytes
6) Don’t hydrate with beer
7) Make sure you have a support vehicle
8) Take spares-inner tubes, chain links (the right ones), repair kit, alum keys & non-digital map
9) Make sure your saddle will not turn on you.
10) Take rear and front lights with chargers
If you need any more help this helpful video will tell you all you need to know.