A day to forget that was very memorable.
The expected rain was light for the first hour as we picked up the voire verte just outside Mortain. After this it came down in stair rods for at least two hours, so we gritted our teeth and ground out the 40k to Vire. This was tough, cold and miserable cycling, not really what we signed up for, but we still found time for the odd laugh.
Cycling on former railway lines such as this is a bit of a double-edged sword; the big advantage is the lack of traffic and the generally shallow gradients. The down side is that they often take meandering routes, can be terribly dull and tend to bypass towns. Despite these downsides, this well marked route is certainly the best way to make this journey as the countryside in this area is extremely hilly.
Someone needs to have a word with the man who puts the distances on the signs, however. Vire was 15k away and 4K later was 14k away and a further 5k later it was still 12k away!
The cycle path into Vire was complex to say the least, but we found a restaurant on the edge of town and had the menu de jour. It stopped raining when we arrived and promptly started again just as we were about to set off, so we waited in the bar. I tried to find out whether we could find anyone to transport us to our next destination some 15k away, but to no avail.
After about an hour the weather miraculously lifted and we decided to make a start. We were promptly met en route by the couple we met yesterday on the folding bikes, who turned out to be Alan, from Ireland and Myra (I think) from Estonia. They were following the same path as us until it forked to go to St Lo (we were taking the opposite for to Bayeux). We all struggled to pick up the route out of Vire, but eventually we did.
By this time, I had inexplicably lost the map we had been using and which I had carefully marked the route for the next two days. I did have the Garmin, but Myra had a map and assisted us in finding the way.
Although we were on the right track, it was incredibly lumpy, with us having to get off and push a number of times. On the flat we rode together, two little bikes and a lumbering large one. To people we passed it must have looked like the remembrance fly past; a spitfire, a hurricane and a Lancaster bomber.
The time came for our routes to part, they were on the way to St Lo and then up to Cherbourg, us to Bayeux and the landing beaches. We took a few photos and said goodbye.
Although our room at a campsite in St Martin des Becances was not far away, yet again we had to push up a couple of hairy hills before finally making it.
Once there, we were greeted by a totally empty campsite and shown to a nice room in the main house where a hot shower was in order. The bar opens and snacks are available from 7:00pm, what could possibly go wrong?
In many ways a difficult day. 67k is by far the most we have ever cycled together and 760m the highest we have ever climbed. We have never intended to make this an exercise in cycling, though today was pretty much a transition stage on the way to Bayeux and a few days rest and relaxation.
A word about the stoker; she was magnificent today. I am so proud of her.