Day 1  – Saturday – Belgium and France

Lesinnes to Wassy

Start 7:28am,  End 21:50pm – 14.5 hrs ride time including breaks
318k ridden
2380m climbing – just French rolling countryside

day1

Up for breakfast at 7am.  Coffee, croissants, ham and cheese rolls.  I finally waddle out

Looking at the tracker I am officially last as the other rider I met last night was already on the road, so must have skipped breakfast

The weather forecast did not look good – rain, side winds…  So on went the rain kit – overshoes, knee and arm warmers.  The waterproof jacket eventually went on later.  Off I went – 6 hrs behind everyone else

The weather was rubbish – 4 hours of torrential rain, and strong gusty Westerly winds, but I am happy in cross winds.  There is no shelter, so its less nice as I zig zag SW then S.  At 9am, I find a Belgian bakery, so its 2 pan-o’chocolate, coffee and a baguette for the rear pocket as I shelter from the rain.  Out I go again.

I ride till about 2, stopping for coke, water and more croissants as I go.   I get to a town (Rethel), and spend 5 minutes trundling up and down pondering where to eat.  The pizzeria shuts in my face, I cant find the McDonnalds, but I hit a supermarket for multi pack of marathon bars and a bag of peanuts, and I eventually end up back in the first restaurant I saw for a yummy burger, salad and fries.

I will get less fussy as I ride…..

It stops raining, the roads dry out, and off comes the wet weather kit.  It’s a nice riding temperature

On I go.  It’s the afternoon before I finally see another couple of riders.  I seem to be going a bit quicker than them which is nice.  The winds shifted to part tailwind as I passed loads of war memorials – American, French, German…. the volume of crosses is quite humbling

I feel surprisingly ok.  I reach a dog leg past Vitry Le Francois, and instead head into the town, into the main square, and straight into the first restaurant I see, for the special offer – entrcote, salad and chips.  I sit outside as its quite nice, and by the time I leave 4 other riders are eating steak too.  Its great to talk to others, hear about problems etc they have overcome, (freezing Garmin 1000s….)

I feel good, so off I go again, with no real destination in mind.  There is a campsite 100k ahead, but its 8pm, so I won’t get there before 12, and I suspect the campsite will be closed by then.

I ride on, the road is flat, the wind has died. I am fed and watered, I have my Belgian baguette in my rear pocket – life is good.

Then I get a wasp stuck in my helmet.  2 stings later on the crown of my head, I get my helmet off but the stingy thing is long gone.  I put my tcr hat on as insect protection, and pour water onto it to cool my throbbing head it as it swells.  Thoughts of anaphylactic shock play in my mind.  I eventually see a sign for a campsite as dusk settles in, so swing off my route for a k to a campsite by a lake.  I buy 2 beers, coke and water, and eat half my warm chewy baguette and a banana as the sun sets.  It’s a crap campsite, (no showers… really?) and just cold water, but out comes my posh bivvy bag, camping mat and sleeping bag.  It feels like it takes me 30 mins to pitch.

So 320k done, my longest ride ever both in time and distance.  I felt good at the end, I managed to eat, and even overtook some people.  A good days riding 

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