Pushing off at 9:15, we managed to go about 200 metres before stopping for a breakfast of coffee and baguettes at the local cafe and boulangerie.
We finally left Forges-les-Eaux around 10am, just as the wind picked up and the rain started. The ride though was good and the roads were quiet all the way down to Gournay-en-Bray. Here we dodged the traffic jams by cycling along the pavement before tackling our first long hill of the day towards St Germer-de-Fly. Looking at the map now we clearly took the long way round, but that kept us off the main roads and let us see a bit of the French countryside that we wouldn’t normally.
At some point around here the heavens opened and what felt like icy rain battered down. I remember shouting aloud as each drop of pain struck my face. We relented before the rain did and took shelter under a tree. Once it passed we hit the road again and luckily the rain held off for the rest of the day. I wish I could say the same for the wind.
A coffee and chocolate stop saw us in St Germer-de-Fly. From here we hit rolling hills and a head-wind for the long 28 miles to Marines. The sun came out though and we rolled into Marines in high spirits and ready for a wee break.
Now with only 10 miles left to our hotel in Cergy, we detoured from Donald Hirsch’s excellent route and entrusted our navigation to Google. Unfortunately this didn’t go well. Within minutes Google had us cycling up a farm track and then attempted to send us cross-country over a farmer’s field. Needless to say we abandoned that plan, backtracked, then stuck to slightly busier roads for the final push to the hotel.
For once we finished the day at a decent time. The Premier Class Hotel in Cergy was cheap and functional, with tiny rooms and bathrooms like you find on a ferry. There was no bike storage but we were lucky and managed to store our bikes in the cleaners cupboard. After a quick scrub up we finished the day off with a traditional French style Chinese buffet, perfectly located right next to the hotel.