A proper day’s cycling
Dinner last night was at ‘La pomme pressée’, a small but friendly restaurant a few hundred metres from our chambres d’hôtes. Burger ‘normande’ was selected by both, and very nice it was too, with a camembert sauce. Some of our fellow diners were drinking local cider, a product of this area as is camembert, but we chose a bottle of red wine, unsurprisingly.
We slept long, having turned in early, and went down to breakfast this morning to be greeted by the husband of our very friendly hostess, who was very impressed by our cycling get-up, and told us he would be expecting to see us on the starting line of the Tour de France tomorrow at Mont St Michel! He insisted on taking a photo of us before we left!
After some minor bike care, a little air in the tyres, we set off on our longest day of the trip, over fifty miles east to Le Neubourg. An early climb, long but not steep, warmed us up fast, and then we stayed up on the plateau for a few miles, views of fields full of crops to the left and right, broken up by the occasional picturesque village. We are firmly back in half-timbering territory now, it had disappeared somewhat as we journeyed west, but as we returned eastwards, it had become more prevalent again, and just as pretty as we remembered.
The riding was not difficult, but certainly more up and down than we’d encountered so far on this trip, we were hardly ever on the flat, always climbing gently or descending easily with the aid of a slight downward slope. The tiny rural roads were lovely, barely a car, a few potholes to avoid, but nothing like at home, frankly! We ate up the kilometres, giggling childishly at ‘Ouilly-le-Vicomte’ (sounds almost exactly like….), crossing from Calvados back into Eure, passing lots of stud farms, another speciality of the area.
At last, Bernay, our lunch destination, and already 56km done. We were very ready for a stop, and had a simple lunch in a roadside brasserie in the centre. After an hour, and a ‘wake-up’ espresso each, we hoisted our tired but somewhat refreshed bodies back on the tandem and set off. We knew it was vital to exit Bernay south of the railway, otherwise we’d have no access to the quiet road onwards which we’d selected. We messed it up the first time, had to do a little loop to correct, but it was well worth the trouble, a little climb, then a lovely quiet road winding through sleepy villages, the birdsong only interrupted from time to time by a train whizzing by on the tracks correctly to our left.
The last 5km were a time trial into Le Neubourg along a long straight road through the crops, flax on one side, wheat on the other. Our hotel is about 1km from town, so we have a little walk to dinner at ‘La table de Tom’, but it is very well reviewed. The hotel looked a little grim from the outside, a bit ‘Travelodge’, but it’s fine, a big quiet room, and a bath!
And no washing of the cycle gear necessary tonight, as we have a clean set each, and tomorrow’s short run back to Rouen is our last day.
Click here to see today’s route.