Stage 1 – 164km from Le Touquet-Paris-Plage to Lille (2014 Stage 4)
What a great start on the way down to Dover, Ken Bruce mentioned me on his morning radio 2 show. There was with some great mickey taking out of my name, giving loads of material for the show, I particularly like the guy who rang in to say his mate is taking on a similar challenge and he’d like Ken to send on his best wishes to Mal Pacino- very funny and thanks Ken for making my day! Checkout the clip below:
Anyway, the start point, Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, resides in the Pas de Calais department* and has a reputation as an elegant holiday resort and doesn’t really have accommodation really suited to the rough and ready style used in the Challenge. therefore last night we stayed in a clean and comfortable out of town IBIS Budget hotel and had a nice and well priced meal at La Houblonniere restaurant a couple of minutes walk from the hotel. Myself and Andy have so far both nearly been run over by looking the wrong way when crossing the road – so we better get our heads in gear quick!
Todays stage is the only stage I’m riding from this years Tour de France and as tour stages go, this was a relatively light start with a flat parcours **, covering 163.5km (in fact I clocked up 168km) ride from Le Touquet-Paris-Plage to Lille Metropole.
Starting in the North west of France, the weather is very much the same as the UK, so I’ve been blessed with a kind start from mother nature. The route skirted along the Belgium border and I entered Belgium briefly by around 500 metres just before Boeschepe, but quickly ended back up in France – the next time I leave France will be at the end of the challenge – that does seem like a long way off!
I also passed the well named village of Saint-Justin about 15km’s in, hopefully he’s watching over me and I don’t end up another Justin who’s a Martyr to the cause!
This years Tour de France marked the centenary of the start of World war one by passing many of the battlefields and war graves of the Somme and Flanders, I did head through the town of Cassel which is the highest point in the Flanders at 176 metres, this would certainly have presented a different landscape 100 years ago as it was the major strategic lookout post within the region giving views to the north of the Flanders region, north west towards Dunkirk and south west towards my destination – Lille. I would have liked the opportunity to stop and visit some more of these sites- it’s certainly on my to do list. I would also add that the cobbles around Cassel were horrendous, leading to me have to fix a break/gear lever which decided to come loose half way down.
I will be using my Garmin bike computer to track my progress, and keep me heading in the right direction, here’s some of the statistics from todays stage:
- Distance: 168.4km
- Time: 6 hours 54 minutes
- Average moving speed 25.4kmph
- Elevation Gain 1500 metres
So all in all, the ride went well, with the only really slow aspects of the stage being when I hit the busier roads of Lille and I estimate stopping at 20 sets of traffic lights which impacted the average speed significantly. The famous one day cycling event, Paris-Roubaix (AKA
The Hell of the North) skirts around Lille, it famous for its numerous cobbled sections which knacker cyclists (and their bikes) – fortunately after todays shenanigans around Cassel I’ll be heading straight back towards the coast tomorrow so time for dinner and then an early night.
Thanks for reading