Stage 6: Arras to Reims
We may not have reached the mountain stages yet, but I hope it doesn’t get much tougher than it was on the bike today. The weather was atrocious – 13 degrees and lashing down rain all day. Even wearing 6 layers, including 2 coats, and my overshoes I was freezing cold and I just got colder as the day went on. I had to push the pace flat out just to stay warm enough to keep going. Every time a lorry went past it was like being drenched by a fireman’s hose. Add to that the storm-force winds, and it made for a pretty miserable day in the saddle. At least the wind was behind us, but when it came in sideways it was strong enough to nearly knock me off the bike. Andy in the back-up van was so cold he couldn’t stop shivering – a quick foray out of the van to ask for directions left him totally soaked. When we stopped for re-fuelling my fingers were so cold I couldn’t open the packets. All around us on the route were fields equipped with a range of complicated irrigation systems….. they certainly didn’t need them today.
But however cold, wet and fed up we felt today, when we rode through the area where the battle of the Somme was fought we thought of the soldiers in World War I and knew we were actually incredibly lucky.