A CCH Long Sleeve Jersey hangs up to dry - notice the light at 6.30 Pm - Loving the extra hour of light in France!
Italian Joseph, a VCL rider at heart - Coach of the younger riders at CCH - walks to the old stables we kept our steed's in overnight.
I have already mentioned this - but as Im doing a write up for my other co blog - Cycling Club Hackney I thought I would do something on here too. CCH managed to get some funding/was given some money by Hackney Homes - allowing for us to go on 2 possibly 3 all expenses paid training camps. There was a vague plan to go back and visit Liguria (Northern Italy - Inland from San Remo) and do their local Gran Fondo - but the terrible weather combined with very little time to book meant we instead opted for a new scene - Northern France. The weather was forecast to be bad - but the great French driving, three days of focused training and getting some time away from London and the lanes of Essex put the weather to the back of my mind. We jumped on the 9.40 Train from Chancery Lane and where off to Dover! About 4 hours later - after a surprisingly quick ferry - that constantly reminded me of my 'Channel Swim Relay Two Summers Ago' - The Team changed into our cleats and headed for 'Ardres' - A small town 20km out of Calais. The Weather was good, although the wind was crazy - I was really looking forward to some long hard rides!
The first thing you notice when riding on French roads is the amount of space a Car gives you; the minimum they would give - was the maximum I would ever get on English roads. The cars regularly ventured onto the opposite side of the road, just to make sure you had enough room.
The first morning was spend changing money and shopping for the next few days. We spent around 100 Euros - This food lasted about 4 days, Pretty good for 6 Hungry Cyclists. That afternoon we headed inland and found some nice climbs - one was particularly popular with four or five Alpine style cutback corners. The wind still raged - making average speeds low - but the work loads hard. About 10km from the house my left 105 STI went, a fault that happens alot - I have had about Six or Seven customers in the shop with the same problem on their left 105 Shifter. I was stuck in the little ring (34) for the rest of the ride - but this wasn't the main problem, I was worried about the rest of the trip, I would have to choose between my Small (34) or big (46) - Between comfort on the hills or comfort on the flat. Luckily because my big isn't that big I managed to big ring the climbs for the rest of the trip - and hopefully its helped me, i was definitely working hard out the saddle and had to attack to keep my cadence up!
Overall Ardres was perfectly placed - Flat, Fast and Windy roads to the north - Hilly Valleys to the west. The weather and light was also considerably better than London - along with Drivers. I started the trip not looking forward to riding in bad weather on the wrong side of the road - but ended feeling very strong and refreshed. Alex and I have got thinking about finding a good Bed and Breakfast for some long weekends. With Cheap Food and quiet, mixed roads - North France was definitely a hit!