A day of ups and downs, quite literally. Despite being the shortest ride of the trip so far at only 92 miles, it was by far our most climbing yet. Heading off out of Champagne the rain had yet to move on and we were met with a day consisting of nothing but ‘light drizzle’. Having yet to see a coffee shop or bakery open, owing to a Sunday & Bank Holiday Monday, were were extremely excited to toast the first working day in France with a coffee shop. The place was set, Europes largest man made lake, lake Der-Chatecoq. As we reached the 35 mile make along the shores of the lake, ready for our caffeine boost, we were again left disappointed. We indeed found the coffee shop we had set out for, however there was no signs of life! So it once again it was back to the trusted, and now slightly despised, Peanut Butter Trek bars for the nutritious boost we longed for! Continuing on from the lake we headed deeper into rural France, only now with the front wheel often above the back wheel and the small ring engaged. A challenge too daunting for most, but these hills had the gaffer licking his lips and out he jumped for a few 1000ft of spinning, only this time without any electrical assistance. The gruelling countryside continued, along with the hunt for any establishment that didn’t serve chemically induced carbohydrates, fruitless and with spirits low the route then kicked us where it hurt, by taking us on main road from Chaumont to Paris. With 18 wheelers bombing passed our sanity and safety was in question, the only slim benefit being the hot fumes and dirty gasses coming from the lorries providing a little warmth on another glum day. Eventually after over 70 miles of turning the pedals, we found trade in France, in the form of a Carrefour Express. In we pilled to get our hands on real food and what a delight it would be…… Unless that is if you are George! George has some interesting food habits, as we have learnt on this trip, our favourite prior to this stop would have been the Mozzarella Pizza he ordered and asked for no cheese, but Mozzarella!?!? This was obviously done in George’s very best French, otherwise known as loud and aggressive English with lots of hand signs! Now back to the Carrefour, whilst the other lads were rapidly demolishing their sarnies, crisps and candies, George was having a slow sinking feeling as picked apart his Chicken bagel, with a building disgust about the fact someone could even consider using cream cheese in a bagel….. Unable to to even touch the bagel knowing that it contained the substance so detested to George, he eventually made do with part of Pauls donut and some crisps. The last 20 miles did little to build morale, with the steepest and longest climb of the trip so far coming in the last mile, made worse by some directional challenges from Nick’s snake version 3.0 GPS system. But at 4.45pm, almost 9 hours after departing Champagne we had made it, tired, hungry and thirsty we couldn’t wait to relax, refuel and get some rest. This is when we discovered HotelF1, it’s fair to say we were warned and the concept of communal showers was a slight concern, but nothing could have prepared us for this. The warning signs begun at the price of breakfast 3.5oEuro’s, a 3rd of the price of anything we’d consumed to date, then there was the very shady middle aged waster, clearly spaced out of his head, dressed head to toe in camo, looking like he had arrived at a crack den, with the only likely way out being in he back of a hurst. But it was not until we actually put our head into a room that we realised quite how terrible this place was. An executive decision was made very quickly to make a serious upgrade to a swanky hotel in the middle of town. The severity of the situation was made clear by the speed in which the Hebden’s were willing to spend £60 extra pounds of their hard earned without a second thought. And what a great upgrade it was, in the middle of the most vibrant town we have found so far, Chaumont, a safe garage for our bikes, a bathroom larger than most of our bedrooms and double beds so we could get nice and cuddly with each other. The night kept getting better, we pooled a wip, concerned it wouldn’t last more than a round, only to discover a round cost 25Euros!!! On learning about 3Euro pints, Dean started planning his next summer holiday to Chaumont! Dinner didn’t let us down either, by far the best meal we have had to date, clean, fresh Italian, with the only slight downside of no music in the restaurant. Fortunately George had had a few beers and wanted to ensure there was no cheese on his salad and hence the void was filled!
Day 4 Done.
Hero of the day, the gaffer himself Mr Steve O, making it 50 miles on a road bike with trainers on. Extremely impressive effort, from a man who truly leads by example.
Negatives of the day, now in to his 3rd day of dreadful knee pain, it’s looking touch and go if Lewis can continue.