A couple of weeks ago five Farringtons and twelve assorted family friends (Stuart, Sarah, Lucy, Patrick, Lex, Mark, Tina, Anton, Anne, Tess, Mandy and Tim) set off from Newhaven for Dieppe for a weeks cycle touring around France.
The very fact we made it to this point is basically a miracle as the week before I only had one shifter on my bike (one less than necessary) and no shops in the South West London vicinity had a triple left hand shifter in stock. Long story short, the guys at Sigma told me if I could get hold of the part they could attach it, if I couldn’t somehow I was going to have to get a new bike from somewhere.
I sent out a plea on Twitter and was absolutely bowled over by the response I got, people I had never even met were offering to lend me their bikes for the week, it was insane and I could not have been more grateful. Just when borrowing/hiring a bike seemed my only option, the wonderful Jon Cannings got in touch to say he had the part I needed and could send it over asap. It arrived in the post Thursday lunchtime, I got it to Sigma Thursday evening and the bike was ready to roll on Friday morning (ready for our 5am start on Saturday). So the moral of this story is firstly never let Dads near bikes and secondly the twitter community is AWESOME.
Anyway on with the trip, this is going to pretty lengthy but mainly pictures and everyone enjoys those! (click to enlarge)
Up bright and early and successfully got all 5 bikes on the roof rack. Arrived in Newhaven and after a brief car nap, set up in our first cafe stop.
Eventually we were on the ferry and on our way to Dieppe. On arrival it was clear we were in for a bit of a rocky night, tornados were on the menu and this was the view from the window (@rosiefarrington basically pooped her pants):
In the French news:
When it hit whole trees were being bent over and debris was flying everywhere. This is how it looked down in the town center, being in a hotel up on a great big hill was no bad thing.
It lasted about an hour before clearing completely, and we woke up to a beautiful sunny morning. Unfortunately it had left a bit of a mess on the Avenue Verte which we due to cycle down that day.
Days 2 and 3: Avenue Verte Dieppe to Forges les Eaux (47 miles) and Forges Les Eaux to Beauvais (45 miles)
Avenue Verte is a cycle route all the way from London to Paris, between Dieppe and Forges les Eaux it is totally flat and really fun to cycle down, on the day we went down it however (post tornado) it was slightly more of a challenge. Like a tough mudder, with trees, where you carry your bike.
Forges les Eaux to Beauvais was more of the same, our days followed a fairly loose structure of get up, cycle to around 11am, drink as many cafe au lait and Orangina as possible in 45 mins (we were very leisurely) on the bikes again till around 1pm. Baguette pit stop! At baguette pit stop you get to eat an entire baguette masquerading as a sandwich, you hardly ever get to eat a whole baguette every day in real life without any consequences so make sure to make the most of it if you ever go on a cycling holiday! Finally we would cycle on to wherever we were staying that night, this generally took anywhere between 3 – 5 hours depending on how lost we got on that particular day
We had a pretty amazing set up, where two of the guys with us (Patch and Lex) were driving a van full of our luggage and meeting us at various points (mostly lunch and in the evening) basically acting as our own personal support crew. This meant no super heavy panniers and basically the freedom to cycle without a care in the world! They are both awesome guys and we definitely couldn’t of done it without them so they deserve a huge shout out. Preferring basketball to cycling more often than not if we cycled past a court en route they would be in it:
My sister Grace (four croissants for breakfast – true story) Farrington refuses to eat baguettes, so every day for lunch she would eat a giant strawberry tart/almond-chocolate croissant post the four croissants. It was pretty impressive. Here she is demonstrating her cake eating ability by eating a tiny tart:
I think Boulangerie is far and away the greatest word in the French language.
Day 4: Beauvais to Paris! (53.27 miles)
This was the big day! We were aiming for the Bois de Boulogne a giant camping/caravan site close to the center of Paris. This was the first time we got some proper rolling hills in some beautiful countryside (before we hit the many roundabouts and 1000000000 traffic lights of the Paris suburbs).
Cyclists hate day-glo? No wait, cyclists LOVE day-glo
By the afternoon it had started getting really really hot. never have you seen a group of cyclists so desperate to squat in some shade by the supermarket bins
53 miles is not very far in the grand scheme of things but when you have a group of massive varying ability it was a real achievement to get everyone safely to Paris in one piece!
Coming up in Part 2 – Sun, sea and gorgeous countryside along the Normandy Coast