Before I get into the details of the day let me first say thank you to everyone who left a comment on yesterday's blog. I saw a note on email to say there was a comment and then found lots of great encouragements - thanks very much. Oh and for those who are still wondering we are riding the lightweight bike (and a good thing too with the climbing that we've done)
The title for today has nothing to do with the fact that England were knocked out of the World Cup today (the earliest stage that has happened since 1958 according to the BBC), not the fact that France are playing Switzerland tonight - a point I cannot fail to miss based on the noise from the bars around the square outside the hotel. The point is that anyone who calls football the beautiful game clearly was not cycling from Calais to Abbeville today.
We spent the day traversing fantastic French countryside, in and out of picturesque (that was a challenging word to spell on another french keyboard) villages, along quiet lanes lined by rows of trees bordered by vast fields of crops and cheered and clapped by everyone from school children excited about a distraction from lessons to elderly gentlement pedalling sedately on rusty old bicycles and probably remembering their youth when they cycled all over France. Tessa commented at one point about two guys sitting in a bus shelter dressed in cycle kit - one had a bike, the other had a small dog.....?
This bucolic image which I have painted did not come without some small measure of pain - another 85 miles and yet more hills, several of which were vying with Lympne Hill for most fearesome - the only difference being that their reputation did not precede them. On the plus side we were riding in speed groups along with motorcycle outrididers who stopped the traffic for us at junctions so we could simply keep on riding (fantastic). It was much more sociable and the conversation and encouragement, both received and offered, was a great boost for morale in spite of the hills.
A special mention to Ned Boulting, one of our celebrity riders (a TV commentator including the Tour de France, Womens Tour of Britain etc). He cycled up to us as we were grinding out the last few miles noting our aches and pains after 2 really hard days and engaged us in conversation. By the time we had discussed tandem communications (we ride with headsets so that we can talk to each other) and our shared experiences growing up around Milton Keynes we rolled into Abbeville with good things on our minds and smiles on our faces. We are finding some great connections on L2P.
A shout out to the LLR crew as well - having worked the event last year we know how much hard work goes in to making it run so smoothly - and as riders this year we could not have been looked after better (and it is not just because I am the finance director - lots of others have made the same observations). You are doing a great job.
Off to bed now - another early start tomorrow but the profile looks much kinder - thankfully