The first challenges, 9th to 14th October

Well what a week it has been so far. To be honest there were times leading up to the challenge where I thought it wouldn’t be possible, but here we are already on day 7.

The challenge started from the Bank of England on 9th October – challenge being the operative word (sorry Plurimi, I know you hate that word!). The first we faced was getting used to some 30kgs of extra weight on each bike, but fortunately neither of us fell off in front of the crowd! The next challenge was getting out of London, and after that was trying to use the cleets. Dom stacked it twice in the first 10 miles. Reaching Rochester we realised we were losing the challenge of time for making the ferry by 7pm. Dad opted for the train, and we all put our foot down along the A2. About 20 miles outside of Dover, the heavens opened, and the challenge of torrential rain and bad visibility forced us off the A2 into windy village roads. With the lights of Dover in the background, we realised we were not going to make the ferry, and were forced into a warm bath and bed in Dover.
The second day we made steady progress. We stopped in a small town called Abberville and managed to find probably the worst 2 star hotel in France, the short rather odd looking hotel manager had a servere mucal problem and made it known through wierd wretching noises and hocking up greenies- we shouldn’t have opted for the horrendously overcharged breakfast, we were lucky not to find something green and salty in our tea!
The third and final day with Dad took us on a long ride to Beauvais. Jon used his best possible French and managed to get 3 French ladies to lead us to a hotel with internet, he continued to use his broken French to try to haggle for a free room but they didn’t have a clue what he was trying to say. Good to use the internet to pick up e-mails and a nice pizza in a pub with a beer was a treat.
Then there were two! We ploughed on towards Criel, the full map of France we had wasn’t quite cutting it and we were clearly doing more miles than we had to by missing shortcuts, new map now top priority. Set up camp in a town called Lizy and cooked frankfurters and pasta on the trangier. Trouble was the fuel we picked up took ages to light and cook the food. Methalated spirits was a very important thing we forgot!
We had gone off course dropping Dad off near Paris so we decided to use our 5th day to make up some ground to get back on track. A hostel with internet access was our goal in Troyes 120km away which we arrived at by 9.30pm that evening. Dodgy roads approaching Troyes dual carriageways at night time are no place for two Englishmen on bicycles! We arrived shattered but with a great sense of achievement, we were given cheese and bread once we’d checked in which was a right touch.
Still not great at the morning routine we need to get better. We find ourselves repacking every morning which takes ages. Dom decided to hand wash all our clothes and with no dryer or airer in the hostel it was clear they were never going to dry in time. By the time we’d left the hostel it was 11am. Have made a rule to leave 1 hour after waking up and to repack the night before if need be. Once we did leave had a great days cycling through the Champagne region and were gifted with clear blue skies. A great opportunity to take some camera footage although it was a bit chilly.

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