Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Day 3 - Wisques to Arras - 84kms

We woke with concern, overnight another storm passed through in the early hours with quite heavy rains. For breakfast the nuns had set aside some bread, instant coffee and port salut cheese for our early departure so that we could leave by 7:30am.
We rolled out to dry but cloudy sky's, and made quick work getting through to Therrouanne after a few navigation errors. The route seems to be diverted due to the road being closed. We stocked up in the supermarket with plenty of food for the day including cheese and croissants.
Ominous clouds looming
Thankful for the paved road
Not long after the light rain started, still with menacing heavy clouds above. Quite humid still we sweated in our lightweight rain jackets. We saw the offroad path in a few places but decided it best to avoid the mud, which was a good decision I think.

At one point we stopped to check directions riding off I could hear a loud noise from the rear of the bike, worried it was the rack or pannier hitting the tyre we stopped only to find something worse, sealant pissing out. Something had sliced right into a knob on the tyre. Moving the tyre around didn't work, so I held my finger on the slash hoping it would seal, still no good. Starting to panic I took the wheel off and shook the wheel off  and spun around, finally the stans did its job and sealed it up! Crisis averted. Riding another 1900k on tubes would be quite stressful!

So it was mostly backroads, still with plenty of traffic in places but at least the French are very courteous in their passing even if they do actually give you too much room. It seems to be normal for someone to pass a cyclist in the oncoming lane shared with an oncoming car! They simply move over as well, and 1.5-2m clear is what we get. Not complaining at all.

One of the many amazing chateau's
So we pushed through with a brief lunch stop with some heavier rain which we escaped on a football oval in the bleachers, it was the only undercover seat we could find!
Lunch banquet, cheese of the day some sort of goats cheese
Half time lunch break in the shelter
We arrived into Arras not as wet and cold as yesterday, but were keen to get into some accomodation. Which is proving a lot more expensive than we hoped, tonight we paid 86e for a fairly average hotel. Which is around $150aud, hopefully it balances out with some cheaper accom, quite a contrast from Spain where we often paid only 30euros a night.
The town is quite impressive with a huge centre of historical buildings many rebuilt as it was only 6k from the front line of fighting in world war 1 and the centre of a large attack in world war 2, and held by the British for a short period. The main centre includes two impressive squares of Flemish barouqe terraces.
Our hotel in the middle
Arras town hall
French pastries!
Belgium beers seem to be the go
Tomorrow we push further east into the more prosperous regions of france, heading for the Swiss border via the champagne region where we will spend 2nights with a rest day, tomorrow is only around 70k so looking forward to an easier day.


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