We arrived at Ouistreham and found our hotel close to the port. Clearly this place is The Place for bikers but I don't mean cyclists. Lots of leather, boots and big blokes with grey hair and tats. Still, it's a bed, so who's complaining?
Going to look for some supper proved that this is not the place for Friday nightlife; everything was shutting and shrugging sorry, or 'je m'excuse'. Finally we found the excellent Mr Udar, a charming Turkish gent who has lived in France for forty years who created a superb collation of chicken, bolga rice, chips and other colourful stuff while we watched France trash Switzerland in the World Cup. I was tempted to try the doner kebabs but decided to save that for another visit.
Bed in our attic space and note to self to invest in mosquito repellent next time. Once the dogs had finally stopped barking, it was over to the mozzies to serenade us to sleep.
Up and into Lycra, breakfast, bike checks and then off down the canal. What a pleasure, flat, sunny and a following wind. We arrived at Cafe Gondree for breakfast part two, with the legend that is Madame Gondree. She likes the idea of the BBBR finishing at Pegasus Bridge next year and promised to make it special, and I know she will.
There's a limit to how long one can delay setting off, so finally we had to get on George and Marjorie and head south. The weather was beautiful and we rode along happily, confidently following Garry the Garmin's expert advice. Unfortunately, I made one of those inevitable remarks like 'it's all going so well' just as we rode into a village called Billy (as in 'Billy, don't be a Hero' for those who lived through some really bad music in the 70s). Garry decided to start following tracks rather than roads and our relationship began to sour.
Clearly I had not spent enough time poring over the maps and had not chosen our route wisely. Emma remained very supportive as we went around Billy a few times, nodding at the villagers on every pass. Finally out came the big Michelin map book, chopped up and encased in plastic. Add a blue bungee and bingo, the perfect navigation aid. Garmin of course was not impressed and has spent the whole day bleating at every turning.
In case anyone wants to do this ride in future, can I suggest you employ a mobile catering company? This part of France, the scene route, has 'rein de personnes' and certainly 'pas de quelque chose a mange'. In Rifleman speak, we were Lee Marvin by the time we had done forty miles and needed some Van Gogh. Luckily we found the only food shop left in business and the kind lady made us two bread rolls with jambon. We sat by a river and I confidently informed Emma that we were on the home straight with only ten miles to push.... Hmm.
I have to come clean, Fortune does look a little like Fortunai but, reader, they are not same place at all. Anyway, a hot and undulating afternoon unfolded, all on a single bread roll. Emma kept very calm, unaware of our slight deviation while I behaved like any good former Recce officer and went round and round in ever increasing circles until we were on the Argentan ring road and our target was within reach... Phew.
We are now at a delightful Chamber de Hote, a farm B&B and the land lady was so surprised to see us on bikes that she made us proper English tea with Waitrose tea bags.. Perfection. She is also making us dinner but we've got to wait until eight.... I might have to break out the emergency jelly babies.
So, thoughts so far. 50 miles is perfect, 60 less so. Garmins are great, wonderful even, if the right route is programmed in. Maps are needed as back up and bungees are vital. Food could be an issue as I need more fuel than I had today and this was an easy one. Tomorrow will be interesting and how long will Emma maintain her Zen like calm?
Final thought, how do you get a cold beer at a farm in the middle of a village with nothing that looks like a pub? Zut alors!
Onwards and Upwards
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