After a great but not long enough sleep we had another very early start – we had to meet for breakfast at 5.30am ready to cycle to the ferry afterwards. The thought of having to cycle another 80 miles after yesterday’s distance was quite daunting but we were reassured that today’s ride would be much less hilly. We were also told that we would be cycling along the coastal road, stopping at or near Utah beach for a lunch break, about 30 miles in.
The ferry crossing was reasonably smooth and we had coffee and a second breakfast – this long distance cycling makes you very hungry! At Cherbourg we all rode our bikes through customs handing over our passports as we went through – it was a really different experience. The sun was shining and we started feeling quite good about our first day in France.
Our group had increased in number. We were joined by Bob, Julian and Andy who decided that, although they were able to keep up with the intermediate group, they would prefer the more social pace of our group. We were pleased to have some more experienced cyclists and during the course of the day, Bob and Julian provided some really valuable tips, encouragement and support, that helped me and Sarah considerably.
Although the coastal route was scenic, we quickly discovered that it was also very windy. This was where we had our first lesson in slip streaming! It made such a difference to be riding directly behind some of the stronger cyclists. As long as we maintained our concentration we could save our energy and still get pulled along at quite a pace.
Our lunchtime stop was in a small cafe near the beach. The service was so slow and we stayed longer than we could afford to really, but we all needed to refuel. Lew joined us from the other group which had stopped at the same place.
Another valuable lesson Sarah and I learnt on Day 2 was how to deal with hills. As you will have gathered from my earlier comments, I am not very fond of anything hilly but with some help with understanding how to use our gears and momentum I can honestly say that they started to feel much better, even though we were still tired, and I no longer dread them quite the same.
Despite all this however we still had an awful lot of miles to cover in not many hours in order to get the dinner that had been booked at the hotel. By the time we got to Bayeux we still had another 10 miles to go and it was getting later. We got a message to say that the hotel would only be prepared to serve us if we arrived by 9pm – and this was at 8.30! We put our heads down and managed to get there by 9.15pm. The advance group had arrived ages before us, the B group about half an hour earlier – and everyone was starving!
Still wearing our cycling gear, hot and sweaty, we went straight into the rather nice restaurant and sat down to applause from the other groups (I think they were just glad to be able to eat!). Lew suggested champagne to celebrate completing the second stage, and we toasted our success loudly, possibly to the annoyance of the waiter who just wanted to get on with serving our dinner..