The end of "le Tour..." well for Dad anyway

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Europe » France » Nord-Pas de Calais » Arras
July 18th 2018
Published: July 23rd 2018
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The next day started off really well. It was nice and cool and traffic was light, but then after covering 80 plus miles, we stoped to fill up. It was here that I realised I didn’t have my phone, nor the cards that are in its case. Dad then tried to call the B&B but got no answer, so I used his phone to track my phone with the finder app. This confirmed it was back at the area we had stayed, and when we got through to the owners they confirmed they had it. They were going into a city that was on our route, so agreed to meet us there. Though this saved us 40 odd miles, it did mean we wouldn’t catch the race that day, so we headed straight for the last hotel. This was still 320 miles to go, add on the 150 we had already done, this would be our biggest day on the bikes of the whole trip. To top it off, we got rained on hard for a small section. On arrival, we ditched our bags in the rooms and headed back down stairs to the restaurant. After a nice sleep we had breakfast and made our way south for a sprint section. This wasn’t as close as we’d like, but we made it with plenty of time. Unfortunately when we got back the hotel restaurant was closed, along with a fair few places in town, so after walking around for ages, we had a pizza and mixed grill from a kebab shop (our second of the day), then bed.

Day 10, and we would be hoping to see the stage twice before heading for the ferry. The first place worked out well as we were able to park very close to the stage, and in the shade, so we had a nice picnic lunch before they arrived. Getting out after wasn’t as chaotic as it had been for other stages, so we made it to the next stop with plenty of time. This section had a cobble road to it, the sixth one of the day, and just like Paris-Roubaix you were standing so close to the cars and riders as they shot past, and just like Paris-Roubaix, everyone started walking back down the cobbles thinking it was over, only to have to dive back off, to get out the way as a car or some more riders that had appeared. Again the timing went well and we managed to catch an earlier ferry. This meant I got to pack the truck, plus get a few bits of clothing washed, and see my nephews briefly before they went home, so an excellent end to the day.

It was an early start, which meant I got next to no sleep, and with over 600 miles to cover it was going to be a long day. By 8pm, I reached a campsite at Vesoul, and had covered 430 miles, but was, by now, totally worn out. A couple of pit stops earlier I had noticed that my bodge to collect the oil pissing out had failed, and I was leaving nice puddles where I parked. This was because where I had mounted the bottle was higher than the next opening in the front casing. So in the morning, I cut the pipe and remounted the bottle. It’s now in a more exposed position, but working. Again due to a severe lack of sleep, a very early start, and a proper upset stomach the drive to the next stage was a long one, not made any better when the TomTom decided last minute, to update the route, due to the road now being closed for the tour! So instead of only having 8 miles left, it wanted me to drive around the closed roads and do an extra 86 miles! Once I reasoned with the sat nav, I was back on track with an hour before they were due to arrive, and only a 2 minute walk to the finish of the hill climb that I had aimed for.

After an hour or so, the crowds had cleared and the road was opened, so I set off for the next stage. This stage had the first top category hill climb, so I aimed for somewhere there, and god knows how they cycle it, because it was bad enough trying to get the truck up it! I guess I arrived early, as even though most of the lay-bys seemed full on arrival, by late evening they were rammed with motorhomes. But I found a little bit of grass at the edge of a lay-by that I could pitch on to. I then pitched the new awning to test it out, and even though it’s not as tall as I need, it was quick to setup, so I sat under it, at the back of the truck, trying to find a tv channel to watch the tour. As that had failed, I shifted the awning and setup the tent with the room underneath. The next morning the place was still packing out, but with cars and people instead. My original plan was to pack up the tent before the sun gets up, and then sit under the awning, but I got too comfortable sitting I’m the room, so I’ve left it all Setup with the awning behind as a spacer between my tent and the cars that had appeared in the morning, and then just waited for the race.

Decamping went quick, almost to the point I felt I’d forgotten something, but luckily hadn’t. The next point I’d planned to see the stage was only 43 miles away, but due to the tiny mountain roads I had to take, it was going to take over three hours! But it wasn’t too hot, and the scenery was spectacular, so before I knew it, I was there.

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