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Orange Vespa Huskyteer

Bike Normandy 2016: Day 1 (06/05)

Our first stop on Friday morning was the Canadian cemetery, a couple of streets from our hotel. Stone after stone with the same date: June 19, 1942.

We had arranged to meet the rest of the group, along with Bike Normandy's John, at a bar in Saint-Saëns, a pretty little town forty minutes' ride away through some beautiful countryside. But first, we stopped at a supermarket on the outskirts to fill up with petrol and for me to pick up the Orangina Haribo requested by my flatmate.

I was still rattled by my lack of windscreen, and rather dreaded explaining it to the others, as it didn't make me look especially competent. But whatever you've done in biking, everyone else has been there and done that or something very similar, and the warm weather plus numerous towns and villages to keep the speed down ensured I was comfortable.

After coffee, a briefing, and a lunch order of baguettes all round, John led us on a loop through twisty roads and past turquoise lakes as we got used to each other and riding on the right. I volunteered as back marker for this stretch, my favourite position. An hour later we were back in Saint-Saëns and more than ready for lunch. Jeanette, the other half of Bike Normandy, was waiting to meet us, so I was relieved of my marking duties.

Now with a professional tour guide at each end of our column, we rode through increasing heat to cross the Seine on one of the free ferries. The traffic light that controlled boarding was red, but here was a ferry employee waving me on, so I rolled on board. Another bike swiftly followed, and by the time I had put the sidestand down we were in midstream, leaving half our group on the bank.

"I told him there were twelve of us," said John, baffled, "and he said fine!"

I dashed to the stern to wave gleefully at our stranded companions, by which time I had to dash back and get ready to ride off the ferry again. On the other bank was a cafe, where I had a diabolo - lemonade with flavoured syrup, in this case candyfloss flavoured - and we watched a quad biker roar past in circles, usually with two wheels off the ground.

Then we turned back towards Bike Normandy's basecamp near Falaise, stopping on the way for petrol and bread. While our hosts prepared the evening meal, the rest of us sat outside eating peanuts and admiring the view.
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Ha, half of them were too slow to get on the ferry! XD

And that, is called Schadenfreude. XD
It wasn't their fault. But it was quite funny!
I bet. How long did it take for them to catch to the rest of you? XD
Only about 10 minutes! Long enough for the rest of us to get a drink, though.
Ah. That's a lot quicker than I thought. XD
Yeah, the crossing only takes a few minutes, and the boat just goes back and forth!
If there's one thing I really wish England could finally learn from France, it'd be café culture, and if nothing else, the necessity of good bread. Anywhere you go in France, you'll always be able to find a proper baguette (at least, before noon) - the UK's stuck straddling Europe and the US, with half the country loving baguettes and tiger rolls, and half perfectly fine with Gregg's and Ginster's abominations upon the name of Pasty.

(FWIW, M&S's baguettes are good, but still not the real thing)
The thing about cafe culture in the UK is it's too cold, or you're sitting right next to an A road, or both! Agree about the bread, though. I had lunch in Crystal Palace's French cafe yesterday and the bread was amazing. (I am fine with both tiger rolls and Greggs. I just like starch.)