What's Up With This: ....the rest of the way to Cherbourg. Then the ferry. - Lookin For John Fairweather - CycleBlaze

April 19, 2014

What's Up With This: ....the rest of the way to Cherbourg. Then the ferry.

I cannot get to the bottom of this. What has gotten into this tent. Why is the pole in the middle not arching up; instead, no matter how I tried rectifying it, the pole is a shallow arc, almost flat, leaving not only so little head room, but I cannot even sit upright. I slept fine, but waking this morning to the roof of the tent just above my face is depressing. Then I try lighting the stove. The lighter's flint is so worn that after many attempts, it fails to light. Hell, I forgot to buy milk, so have to eat porridge with cold water. What else can possibly go wrong. I don't want to start messing around with the tent-pole as it is old and fatigued and has broke twice already. I've no more spare poles if it does break.

I get cold eating breakfast outside the tent, so get back in and cocoon myself in my sleeping-bag, remaining there for almost an hour, becoming snugly warm; but, eventually make a go at moving at eight-thirty.

The sky is dirty grey, but the road is flat to begin with today. There isn't much traffic. Every few minutes I meet with a huge tractor drawing a heavy trailer load of freshly cut grass, and the same passes me, returning empty. Then the dark cloud intensifies and the rain comes on. I stop and put my rain-jacket on and it rains long enough to create puddles and leave a wet sheen on the road before easing,

The road by-passes a place called Neskey, then with twenty-four kilometres ridden, I turn off down towards the coast to Barneville, as I really need something to eat. You would be mistaken for thinking you're in an English west country village, as there are as many English accents here as local. There's a street market with tressel tables decked with lamps and ornaments, antiquities and curiosities. And away from the market, people are seen walking along the street with the bargains they've picked up.

Barneville.
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Although its still early, I lunch on a slice of pizza from a boulangerie, then sit down for a coffee before going on. The remaining thirty-eight kilometres to Cherbourg is one relentless uphill drag. The short downhill sections are just so brief, because ahead I see the road rise like a wall. The blustery crosswind means descending is a nervous risky affair. But going up and up; even relatively flat road is a three per cent gradient. Each bend I turn reveals more uphill. Then finally there's an unreal steep descend down into Cherbourg.

I have been here before, back in 1993. Then the ferry terminal was close to the centre. But supposedly, in the intervening years, a new port has been built, ten kilometres into a headwind out of town. As it happens, this isn't the case. I find the port in the same place it was all those years ago. The sailing to Poole is at 18.30, so I buy a single which comes to fifty euros.

I return to the centre pass the portside funfair and furros wheel. Everywhere there are posters about the seventieth commemoration of the D-Day Landings, with a map of the beaches just to the east of Cherbourg showing rows of arrows representing the advancing forces, and a black and white photo from the liberation of the city of Caen.

After eating a sandwich, I kill most of the time until returning to the ferry terminal, in the walking street sat outside a café.

The ferry departs on schedule and after dinner of beef stew in the self-service restaurant, I return to the bar where there's wallpaper music. Wish you where here. Then disappointedly followed by Bono. Then Van Hallen. There was some good music in the eighties, but this wasn't it. The music then, thankfully goes back a couple of decades with The Who's Substitue, followed by Pin Ball Wizard.

I go to the bar and buy a pint of Stella, then return with it to my seat. Don't know what I'm going to do when the ferry arrives, which is 21.45. It will be too dark to ride anywhere. Perhaps they'll allow me to sleep in the terminal building.

Sitting at the next table, is three generations of the same family. Wizened white-haired grandmother, forty-something son and an eight year old boy with his Lego twin-rotor helicopter. He keeps quizzing his father and grandmother to how its possible that, the swivel blades in the rotor can change the helicopter's position and direction in the air.

Today's ride: 63 km (39 miles)
Total: 14,693 km (9,124 miles)

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