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Published: July 12th 2017
The campsite in Orchamp was expensive for what it was. It had the bear essentials, like showers, loos and fresh water, but was quite run down. But this was irrelevant, as it sits on the Euro Velo 6 cycle route that will take me straight into Dole. I set off at about 9:30 as it was about an hours ride into town, and the heat was already sweating me out. I had moved the bike into the shade of the van to clean the chain, as after the wet ride in Germany the gear set was pretty clogged up. But even here the heat was building, so I made a start along the cycle route. It runs along side a large canal with a couple of locks along it, with trees and cliffs to make this an awesome ride, and at the end the tour had put free cycle storage with a security guy, so I left the bike with him and began walking into town. I had timed this just right, as the promo caravan was just coming past me so I got to see them entering the main paddock. Then after only a few minutes, the team buses and
cars began to park up. Along the fence line on the other side of the path were several water taps. These turned out to be essential, as by now the heat was incredible, and I was knocking back litres of water like there was no tomorrow. At first I waited with the others, for the steward to open the crossing over to the main area, but there were just too many team cars going through. So rather than die of heat exhaustion, I walked back around the start and walked along side the main river side, which took me into the back of the main area. From here I watched the teams all sign in on the main stage, and walked around the promo stalls that were there. I then found a big screen and began to watch the riders sign in, while standing in the shade. This also happened to be right next to the start line gate, so I stood around for 30 minutes till they all began to ride off. At first it was quite spacious around me, but as the start drew nearer, more and more people packed in. This I expected, but what I didn't
expect was when the race director drove up and posed in front of the start, he suddenly disappeared behind a wall of arms extended as high as possible, with iPhones held ready for a good shot. I don't know why this surprised me, as that was why I was standing there to do too. After the grande depart, I headed back along the riverside, as there was a pizzeria that had looked good the first time I past it, so this time I stopped for lunch. I then began the ride back, which again was absolutely beautiful, but you didn't dare stop for more than one pic, as the heat was by now unbearable. The next morning I was packed and showered by 8:30, so began the drive to Calais. Now Calais was 400 miles away, and I had now booked the ferry for Wednesday, with intention of only doing 120 odd miles a day. But, this only took me a few hours to do. So I decided that, rather than sit in a campsite, I'll just keep driving till the half way mark. I reached this by 2pm, so looked at ferry prices and times, and it turned out
it would be a hell of a lot cheaper to cross Monday morning, so I drove to the campsite, just outside of Calais that I stayed at at the beginning of this trip. So it turns out you can drive the van for 400 miles, but it's not comfortable to do, and it does cause the engine to go into the red. So much so, that I had to pull into a parking area and pour water over the engine just to bring it down to normal working temperature. Another down side to doing a distance like this, was fuelling. Due to its pathetic sized tank, I had to fill up every 60/70 miles, which obviously looked suspect to the supermarket computer, so it stopped accepting my card, even though they were in different towns, and had to use my back up card. It was at this point I thought to myself I must fill up before I cross back, as it's cheaper, but with such a small tank, I'm hardly going to save much, so I left it till the morning, if I can be bothered too.
Well morning came at 4:30am, only for me to find, that
this time, they had locked the gate, so I was stuck here for 3 hours. This was the way the morning went, as I chose to ignore the gps and take the motorway, only to then listen to it send me down the wrong junction. This junction didn't have a turn off till 8 miles later, and was a poxy toll road. But at £1.50 I just took the toll road back to Calais, and the van had decided it couldn't possible go faster than 55 all the way, and even stuttered a few times. By now the fuel was also getting low, but there wasn't a fuel stop,so I just cracked on. When I reached the port I had about an eighth of a tank, which I hoped would last me till I get to Cheriton, but the mood I was now in, I just didn't care. It was the same when I reached the ticket office and he wanted another £60, I just didn't care, and handed the credit card over before the guy even had a chance to say "there's a charge". The wait at the port was short, and I was soon on my way back.
Now it's at this point I would like to point out that the travelling around chasing the tour has been epic, and the promo caravan throwing out its goodies has been great fun, followed by trying to spot the riders you know in the peloton, but, it was the heat and the van that finally cracked me. To be honest, the van was lucky I ran out of matches. Which also reminds me, the gas ran out half way through making my coffee this morning. So now I have to get home, do a few cosmetic bits to tidy the van, and get it straight on eBay. One thing I have found funny, is the attention the van gets because of its uniqueness and size, but dreaming of having one and actually having one are poles apart, well for me.
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