day three

After eating our breakfast and getting all geared up, we were ready to hit the road by 8:00am. At that precise moment, the weather had other plans and decided to deliver us a rainstorm. We did a quick retreat back into the hotel and sat around the dining room for the next 45 minutes and waited for the storm to pass through. The worst of it was over after that time, and even though it was still raining with a considerable fervour, Danny decided it was time to go.

So we donned our rain jackets and biked in a single file at a snails pace for a good number of miles, the cold wind blowing against out wet jacket made for a miserable ride. One of the girls from Team Chalvington was terrified by cycling in this weather, her eyes as white as dinner plates, so Sunny and I agreed to keep her company at the back and make sure she was alright. Only after about an hour though the rain completely stopped and we were out of the city of Arras.  Once everything dried up and we were back on our average 13-14mph speed, we seemed to be making better progress and actually getting somewhere.

Lunch was only 35 miles into the day, but that was severely delayed by something in the vicinity of 6-8 punctures. Apparently, when it rains there is a combination of a lot of broken glass and sharp stones being washed into the roads, as well as the rubber tires softening up and making them less puncture resistant. By that point I had left my bike lock and front van in the support vehicle to lighten my load and to streamline the remainder of my ride. Everybody else was doing the same, and with good reason too as the support vehicle was with us so often that there were no need for us to be lugging any extra weight.

The views were much like day two, and even though the hills were not as challenging, we still faced some pretty tough climbs. My understanding of the hills, fitness level and cycling technique however gave me enough confidence to give day three a bit more push than before. Some of the long hills I was out there in front, and I even joined Team Sky in some of their races (following Luke and Andy in third place in my best effort, not that I ever though I could out-cycle them as they take to the road like a fish takes to water).
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Two of the girls couldn’t take the hills anymore, so they took the van for a significant portion of the day. Funnily, their two significant others took this chance to pick up the pace and, whereas the first two days they were in the back with their partners, today they were in the front with us. One of the Northern girls as well had some problems with her cleats, and as a result got throbbing pain on her knees which she battled with for the whole afternoon. Gareth, if I recall correctly, was doing slightly better with his troubles today, which a lot of people were pleased about because he had been fighting a lot with himself and his bike all the way up to this point.

I don’t remember much more about the views and roads from day three. We did pass a beautiful war memorial ground and graveyard, but otherwise everything was more of the same really.

We arrived at Campaigne in an area that looked much like a stop along the highway that has nothing more than a few budget hotels and restaurant chains. Not the most atmospheric place to stop, but at least the restaurant most of us went to (a grill) served a mean stake with a good, young French red.

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