Stage 2 – 197km from Orchies to Boulogne-Sur-Mer (2012 Stage 3)
After heading from the English Channel coast to Lille yesterday, I’ve done an about turn and headed straight back to the coast with mild, but overcast weather, to Boulogne-sur-Mer. By the way, here’s a pic I meant to put in yesterdays blog, it was taken just before I started stage 1.
Following my training programme, todays ride was supposed to be slightly slower as my body gets used to multi day riding, but I actually improved today which was surprising considering the severity of the second half of the ride. The key thing for me is to keep eating hydrating and resting whenever possible. On the bike I’m drinking around 750ml liquid every hour and having a nibble on sugary snacks (banana’s, malt loaf, harribo, gels, jaffa cakes etc.) every 20 minutes or so. I also have some more substantial savoury food with salted peanuts, crisps and at lunch I have light pasta, rice or noodle based meal with a touch of protein.
During training, I would have had to carry all my food and drink for my ride, fortunately Andy and I have a detailed schedule and maps (it took about 250 hours work to pull this together), and arrange to meet every 50km or so to replenish drinks bottles and food – meaning I only need to carry sustenance for the next section of the ride.
What I hadn’t picked until today, when I stopped near Aubers and got chatting to a friendly local guy, was that many of names of places we passed over the past 2 days (Hazebrouck, Bavinchove, Sainghin-en-Weppes etc.) were actually of Flemish origin and that the French, Belgian and Dutch borders have been very fluid over the years – well you learn something new every day!
The profile today has very flat, for the first 100km it reminded me very much of the land between Bognor and Chichester where my wife and I often walk out to the Gribble Inn pub – that’s a great pub by the way, the on site brewery were the creators of Fursty Ferret now brewed by Badger. The second half of the ride was very tough, due to having to ride the majority of it into a westerly breeze, there were also 5-6 short (170-200m) but very steep climbs to deal with, but at least has given the legs and cardiovascular system a wake up for what’s to come! There’s no surprise, with this type of finish, that the brilliant and entertaining Peter Sagan won this stage on the way to his first green points jersey in 2012.
- Distance: 202.18km
- Time: 7 hours 51 minutes
- Average moving speed 26kmph
- Elevation Gain 1995 metres
Don’t read into the timings and average speeds too much, the French love traffic lights and getting lost does both impact this, I also gained 4-5km on the supposed distance – some of that is due to getting lost – yesterday my bike computer took me through a supermarket car park and today I ended up going cross country down a narrow trail which did wonders for my bike!
Tomorrow is a long 214km stage heading south west along the French cost from Abbeville to Rouen, if there’s a south westerly wind it could be a long day!