Published: June 23rd 2011June 15th 2011
With today expected to be our hardest yet, I volunteered to be the sweeper so that I could just cruise at the back and not hold anyone up!!! Fortunately my alternate bike shorts don't seem to press in the same places as yesterday's shorts so I wasn't too uncomfortable in the saddle.
And what an eventful morning we had!! Well before our first stop at Chateau de Chantilly, we had already had a fall (a nasty graze on the knee - not mine - but no broken bones) and some vomiting (again, not me)!! Of course Bernie couldn't resist telling me that this was my fault as sweeper. Just because he was lucky enough to have an incident-free spell as sweeper yesterday!
Despite all of the incidents AND a wrong turn, we eventually arrived in Chantilly at about 10.20am. That left us with two hours to explore the castle and grounds. Just for a change there was no scaffolding, BUT the grounds were being set up with temporary grandstands and marquees for the fireworks spectacular that will take place at the weekend!! Despite all of the work going on we managed to take some good photos of the castle
- inside and out.
We ate our packed lunches on some steps beside the moat (lake?) at the side of the castle before heading back to our meeting point at the stables at 12.30pm. Honestly, you could spend a whole day at the chateau quite easily, but that wouldn't leave any time to cycle to Auvers sur L'oise!!!
From the chateau we faced up to our most challenging cycling yet with hills, gentle undulations, more hills and lots of traffic!! I almost lost two of the group in a village because no 'corner' was left for us and they went left instead of hard left before I managed to round them up. It was all happening on my watch, that's for sure.
Today has been our warmest day yet and we were all gasping for a tea break, but the cafe that Nina usually goes to was closed. If we couldn't buy coffee most of us at least wanted to top up our water bottles, but we couldn't even find water!! Eventually, we had to ride about 3 kms out of our way to find a cafe. They had coffee, hot chocolates and soft drinks, but no
bottled water. With some trepidation, we all filled our water bottles from the hand basin next to the urinal. Eeeuuww! I went to the loo at the cafe and when I pulled my bike shorts back up they were so damp with sweat that it was like pulling a wet nappy back on. That was pretty eeeuuww too!!!
Of course we rode 1.5 kms DOWN HILL to buy coffee so then we had to ride 1.5 kms UP HILL to get back on course. I threw a chain half way back and managed to jam it up so Bernie got really annoyed trying to get my chain back on, virtually accusing me of doing it deliberately just to pee him off?!
Chain back on, I made it to the church where Clayton directed me up a 'steep, but short hill'. Hmmn, steep certainly, but not short. I have to confess that I bailed out half way up and decided to walk to the top. I might have made it, but I wasn't game to change down to my No.1 gear again after throwing my chain!!
Everyone was very relived when we finally arrived in Auvers sur L'Oise
at about 5.15pm after what has definitely been the hardest day of the tour. There was barely time to shower before dinner. In fact, I managed to freshen up, but Bernie didn't have his shower until after dinner.
There are more photos below