With our departure from Newhaven delayed by an hour we had enough time to tuck in to a Premier Inn breakfast.
The bikes were loaded on to the back of the car for the 4 hour ferry crossing, which passed fairly quickly. Most of that time was spent stood in a queue trying to get served poor quality cold hot food at the on-board restaurant.
Arriving in Dieppe we stopped at the road side and unloaded the bikes. Tony was worried about the steep hills that lay ahead, which I had heard rumours of too, though there was no mention of them on the route I’d picked, so was quietly confident we were in for an easy ride.
And indeed we were, to start with at least. The weather was glorious, the roads were good, and the first 6 miles on quiet roads passed quickly. At Arques-la-Bataille we joined the Avenue Vert cycle path, a glorious, smooth, straight route covering the entire 29 miles to Forges-les-Eaux.
The incline on-route was barely noticeable, with the only hindrance being a head wind. But that didn’t matter because the sun was shining on us as we rolled through the French countryside. What a contrast to yesterday. Around the 16 mile mark we kicked back for ½ an hour and enjoyed a well deserved break.
We were back on our bikes just as the rain started, which didn’t let up until we reached Neufchatel-en-Bray, 16 miles later. Time was getting on and with 10 miles still to go I was keen to push on, but Tony and Brian had other ideas, heading off in to town to find a coffee shop. Half an hour later we were back on track and made Forges-les-Eaux around 8:30pm.
Our rest for the night was at Hotel/Restaurant La Prix in Forges-les-Eaux, and what a great find. With a great big car park, bike storage, well sized rooms with huge showers and great food in the restaurant, it’s well worth checking out if you’re ever this way.
The evening routine was a repeat of the previous night. Secure bikes, strip off wet clothes, hot shower, food, put everything on to charge, prep kit and route plan for tomorrow, smear legs in freeze gel and crash out. Only this time I was rather generous with the freeze gel and had to sleep with my jumper and socks on. Of course, this wore off after a couple of hours at which point I had to strip off.
Now I’m sure the question you’re all dying to ask is, “does freeze gel actually work”? Which is a very good question, and I’m sure there’s very good science behind it, but for me it’s more of a blast from my childhood than anything else. After a day’s skiing I’d get a squirt of Ralgex freeze spray on my legs and be good to go again the next day. I’m sure both the smell and the sensation have left a pavlovian response imprinted on my brain over the years, such that it’s now just habit. Though these days my pseudo-placebo of choice is Deep Freeze gel, and boy does it work!
Late start, then a long wet and windy cycle in to Forges-les-Eaux. At least the Avenue Vert was well signed and paved.