After a hearty breakfast in Calais we head south. Starting off fairly flat, our ride continues as we peddle through beautiful rural landscapes and quiet back roads.
The ride gets more “undulating” (yes, that word again) as the day continues until we reach Arras. By now we had all learnt that “undulating” meant there would be some testing climbs along the way, with today’s climbs of a more steady gradient but longer and equally as challenging. Whoever it was that told me before leaving, that northern France is flat was lying!
As I write this post, the 6th stage of this year’s Tour de France leaves Arras and heads towards Reims, where the pro peloton will cover 194km. My approximate cycling distance when heading into Arras was put at 135km but it could be more as we became completely lost in the town and no doubt put an extra 10km into our heavy legs.
I had cycled my way through the first 2 days at an average of around 20km an hour. I had spent 6 – 7 hours on the bike for both days and yet the pro’s would cover this type of distance in around 4 hours. I had even encountered a few cobbles along the way although I would face more of them later on.
I was left with a Cat. 5 tattoo (cyclists slang for the grease mark left on the calf from an inexperienced racer (or spaced veteran) leaning up against the chainring).
Our hotel was in the centre of town. It was then that we found out that the Main Square Festival, a music festival featuring acts from rock, indie, electronica, and pop would be playing that night, so off to sleep to the sound of Iron Maiden thumping away until the early hours ..
Day 3 would follow – Arras – Compiègne, taking us through the location of one of humanity’s bloodiest battles.