The day started so well.
We woke up a bit early, but we had both slept well.
Breakfast was a decent mix of the usual French stuff and we duly loaded up. We were also offered boiled eggs, how could we refuse?
This day really went spectacularly tits up largely as a result of poor planning. I had lost my (admittedly inadequate) map and was relying on the research I had done a couple of weeks before when I nonchalantly announced over breakfast that we had a short, 35k ride to Bayeux. We agreed that, after the carnage of yesterday, we would take it easy, see the sights and roll into Bayeux early afternoon in time for an afternoon nap.
To be honest we did not even check the route on Google maps the evening before, such was the (misplaced) confidence in my route planning.
As the Museum we wanted to see in the town did not open until 11:00, we decided that we would give it a miss and head straight out, following the cycle path, which was now on minor roads, to Bayeux.
It started well with a gentle cycle through lanes, with a few climbs thrown in. We coffee’d at Villers Bocage, at which point we were 16k in. I picked up some cycle maps at the tourism centre and a scan of the route started to suggest we still had a fair way to go.
We picked up the cycle lane again and about 5k later were horrified to see a sign ‘Bayeux 38k’. Apart from a gasp (and possibly a swear word?) from the stoker, the atmosphere on the cycle to our lunch stop could only be described as ‘frosty’, particularly as we got lost for a period just after this. I could feel the stokers’ eyes burning into the back of my neck……
To be honest, I felt terrible, we had such a hard day yesterday, and here we were making life even harder for ourselves. Fortunately we found a really nice place to stop for the picnic lunch that we had bought earlier in the day.
Lunch was a quiet affair. I was pissed off and trying to think about how we could avoid the still 30k we had to do if we followed the path. I finally got the Garmin to give us a direct route, but could not work out whether it was any quicker than the one we were on. Louise, sensing the tension, was amazingly positive until she banged her elbow in the toilet door and just avoided crying!
We concluded that we simply had to take the most direct route to Bayeux and left the cycle path to take our chances on the main road. We wanted to pass through the village of Tilly-sur-Seulles where there was a Normandy battle museum and this was on the main road anyway.
Turned out to be a good decision. The road was direct, not too busy, nor too hilly and we quickly reached the village with the museum. Great, except it was closed and, according to the two guys we met there, so was the museum in the village where we started our journey. To be honest, I was angry that the local tourist board heavily promotes these museums and the Normandy campaign generally, but in truth they are open for a fraction of the time you would normally expect.
We left, but quickly came across the Jerusalem cemetery where 37 soldiers were laid to rest, all British except for one Czech soldier. I made sure I paid my respects to every grave and was particularly moved by the Private who had been killed in 1944 at just 16 years old. I assume he had lied about his age. A sobering experience.
We made Bayeux shortly afterwards and guided by the (now functioning) Garmin, we quickly found our way to the hotel. Apart from the fact we had to request a room change, found workmen in the new room and the toilet would not flush, all was OK.
We walked into Bayeux and had a great meal before strolling back. This was not before we saw two guys shifting a piano in the town, which looked like an accident waiting to happen and reminded me of a classic Laurel and Hardy film!
There is no doubt that’s today was a complete and utter shambles, rescued by Louise’s ability to push through and a pleasant evening in Bayeux. We are both completely knackered four days in.
I take responsibility for this; I have said from the start that this trip is not an exercise in cycling, however the 225k we have done in 4 days makes a mockery of this. Planning needs to improve if we are to keep this running through the rest of Europe. We need to make sure we have a shorter and more manageable itinerary in the future.
Fortunately, we have a coach trip to the landing beaches tomorrow and a day in Bayeux on Saturday, so don’t have to get on the bike until Sunday. We have a short ride after then, only 30k (though on current form I may have to check that!).
It is early days, we have made a few mistakes, but we will learn from them as we continue our adventure.
At least we now have a new map……. 😁😁