day two

Danny led us on day two and his experience as a bike guide couldn’t have shone any clearer following Guy’s lead of day one.

The previous day, Guy got lost three times (albeit for only a short distance), and once the group split up so far from each other that the rear group (which I was in) had no idea which way to go when we came to a junction. This further delayed us another 15 minutes or so of standing around and phoning the support vehicle for help.

Danny knew exactly what pace to go on and when to stop to regroup.  As a result, we were able to bike for longer periods of time with less interruptions than the day before, which of course was also helped by the fact that we weren’t just fighting with traffic to get out of London. Anyway, today was a day marked by the toughest hills in the whole trip… some extremely steep and others with a high gradient that stretched for several miles (that almost never seemed to end). We had 40 miles to cover to get to lunch, most of which covered hills, but a lot of which were on nice country roads with nothing but barley fields around us (interestingly, the first field was a corn field which was not something I was expecting in the north of France).

Now, when we started cycling that day I had no intention of hitting the hills hard. My objective was to keep a nice, steady pace, a high cadence to keep my knees happy and to get to lunch early enough to get some of that tuna =) I started off cycling with Sanjeev and Barnard, but when we started hitting hills of any significant difficulty or length they would fall back and as the morning progressed, it was just me and team Sky up front (minus Teo, who couldn’t handle hills to save his life).

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By the end of day, Team Sky were calling me Chris Froome in jest, as I had made my mark as one of them. I shrugged it off as “No Big Deal” but was obviously beaming inside.

We arrived in a very quaint and pretty town called Arras, with cobbled streets and buildings made in typical Imperialist French architecture style. Shortly after we checked into Hotel Ibis, the heavens opened up and it rained a kind of rain you only get when you anger the Gods. I told my roomie Luke that in the Philippines this is normally a good sign that the next day would be filled with blue skies; I couldn’t have been more wrong in this case..

We all ate in one of those restaurants that have anything and everything conceivable in their menu, which is my opinion means they specialise and excel in nothing. I had paté and a seafood pasta which, under any standards let alone French standards, I would categorise under edible-but-forgettable. The house wine was crap.

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