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Day 10 - I'm bored of France now

This is going to disappoint the sadists among you, but today was much easier and almost incident free. I know some of you like a bit of schadenfreude, reasoning that if you are stuck at your desk while I'm out riding, then the least I can do is have the good grace to be miserable about it. Sadly for you guys that's not today's story, which if nothing else will make my mum happy that I'm not 'overdoing it for a man of my age'.

I had a very relaxed start to the day, watching the first half of the England women's world cup game before cycling 300m into the town square of Saint Quentin for a pain au chocolate and a cafe au lait (mainly because I can ask for these things in French rather than any big preference). My first hour today was just me rolling at slow speed listening to the game before eventually pulling over for the penalty shootout. I had to move immediately though as a mental dog threw itself at a gate trying to get to me. The French people may be almost invisible but their dogs are not. I've had more than enough jump scares on this trip where dogs suddenly spring to life barking furiously as I ride past. If one dog makes it over the fence to get to me the owners are going to be taking it to the vet to get treated for repeated blows from a Lezyne mini pump. I know I may have lost the dog lovers among you here, but I don't care: the dogs here bark indiscriminately at everything rolling past but most especially cyclists.

Anyway in celebration of the penalty win, the wind died down and so after almost 200km of cycling I finally switched to the top cog. My legs were still tired but in a good way and it was a pleasure to be riding above 20kph for once on this trip without going downhill. I am still amazed though at what you can force your body to do. It helps to be riding A to B because that means you have no option but to continue riding, but nevertheless I think we are all capable of more physically if we can control what's going on in our heads. That's harder over longer distances of course because keeping your mindstate in one place for hours on end is never easy. It's bound to have ups and downs. It does help if you are stimulated by the world around you though.

Sadly the extra speed I now had made little difference to this day's enjoyment. Rural France is boring as fuck with long straight roads leading to identikit villages. It's a little known fact but the phrase 'deja vu' was actually created by the first bikepacker to try riding through northern France. There are so many villages with nothing in them. How do people live there? I suppose you have to have a grudging admiration for the rural French: they resolutely refuse to change despite the fact that France is the most visited country in the world by overseas visitors. I imagine they think of change as a treasonous act. Plus most of those visitors are not spending their holidays tramping around northern France.

My late lunch was in a deserted Burger King which turned up unexpectedly on my route while I was riding past an industrial estate in Beaurains. I had been hoping for a lunch at a cafe in a square in the sun watching the world go by. But you refuel whenever or however you can on these rides because you never know how far it will be to the next available food or drink. Especially in France which is closed outside of cities on most days it seems.

So today turned out to be largely uneventful if not boring. My only drama was being forced to take a slightly longer route after discovering I had accidentally included 5km off single track just after I had passed through the Canadian war memorial at Vimy. This still only made it 109km for the day with just over 1000m of climbing.

Tomorrow's ride is split in two: 95km to Calais and the ferry and another 35km after Dover to my hotel in Canterbury. I could have spent more time in France as I have the whole week off but today has not been a great advert for French tourism.

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1 Comment

About bloody time you had a “boring day”. Glad it went well 👍

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