Had a fantastic breakfast in the hotel, and made sure to stock up on starchy foods and generally fill our faces with french pastries and other goodies. After breakfast I decided to go and get my bike ready after it had been taken off the van it had stayed in that night, bringing my helmet, water bottles and gloves down with me to the grassy area outside the hotel (which was full of dog shit but anyway) I pop my stuff down and go looking for my bike. I then come back to the footpath and spend 40 minutes looking for my water bottles, did I leave htem in the hotel? did I leave them on the coach (no chance of ever seeing them again but I had them in my hand that morning) did I leave htem in my day bag with the other stuff that I might need during the day?) no, they were not in any of these places.
They were in my helmet along with my gloves, exactly where I had left them, did I mention that we had a very long day previous to this?
We start cycling and I immediately find a problem, my foot is starting to hurt again and we hadn't even covered a mile, fortunately we had a stop after 2 miles at a cycle shop so people could pick up anything that they may have forgotten to bring. I managed to pick up a pair of adidas cycling shoes, in my size, for €32 which considering that they usually retail for about 3 times that I was quite pleased with.
The difference they made was unreal. I was able to put much more power down, more efficiently and my foot didn't hurt at all, €32 well spent in my book.
The morning's cycling was very pleasant indeed, with undulating terrain but travelling through a very picturesque part of France. The weather was ace as well, no wind at all but a very pleasant 33oC. Now you might think that this is unbearably warm, but it was very pleasant as even during the very fast downhill sections (where my motto was Tuck in, Fuck off) you didn't cool down much at all, but the lack of humidity made for very pleasant cycling weather.
Coming in right (10-15 min out of 3 hrs) behind what I would class as the Elite Cyclists (guys that do it every day of the year and spent more on their bikes than I did on my car) I was very pleased with my progress and was able to spend a bit more time recuperating at each stop.
Lunch, as the previous day was at the top of an incredibly long hill, not as steep this time however, but due to a headwind I had to get off and walk part of it.
After lunch we had a long downhill section to begin with followed by a series of hills. I think I ate the wrong things during lunch so was very tired and lacking in energy for the first 45 min or so, I don't think I had enough fruit for the fructose and other sugars that would have given me the necessary boost and kickstarted the oul legs again.
The next leg of the journey was absolutely magnificient, travelling through the rolling hills of the french countryside. I think that the elite class were missing out on some of this as they were driven to be first to arrive and would just keep the head down and cycle straight through, without taking a few minutes to appreciate the stunning beauty of the area. Unfortunately the jersey I was wearing that day didn't have pockets otherwise my iPhone would have been accompanying me and there would be a multitude of photos of just how beautiful the area is.
The next rest area was in a sleepy little village, probably a population of maybe 600. There was a wedding on and everyone in the village was out enjoying the good weather and the atmosphere. A stop at a local bar let me meet a few of my fellow travellers and I made good company straight away with one group in particular. They had the very very good drugs... A Doctor, a Pharmacist and a Psychiatrist, I mean they were packing everything, antibiotics, max strength codeine, the strongest painkillers without needing a controlled prescription etc. Good people to know. One of their party was really suffering though and was having a hard time making it through, she hadn't eaten since the ferry trip the previous evening and was having bouts of vomiting and diarrhea. She was absolutely driven to complete it though as she had lost her husband the previous year and was doing it for an arthritis charity that really looked after him.
Setting off from here there was a very much appreciated downhill section and some more rolling hills, nothing too strenuous and arriving at the hotel at 3pm or so was a welcome relief from the 7pm the previous day.
All in All a very good day and felt like I had done quite well!