Bonfire night…and today the entire trip almost went bang on us.
Verdun to Reims was the planned trip today. 70 miles of open but mainly flat countryside should have been ok as long as the weather held up..We set off early and by 8.30am we were out of Verdun and out on the open road. Things were going well. The countryside surrounding the north of Verdun is as magnificent as it is sad. The land is littered with cemeteries and land still bears the marks of the savage fighting of early 1916 where the German army threatened to ‘Bleed France white’…
Then, 10.5 miles north of Verdun something bad happened. 4 spokes from my back wheel decided that they didn’t want to continue on the trip and snapped. The diagnosis wasn’t good, the bike couldn’t be ridden until some more spokes could be found…and in the middle of nowhere those spokes were not forthcoming.
The only option was to walk back to Verdun and try and find a place that sold spokes…so off we trudged, walking the 10 miles were had just ridden over..During that walk my heart sank so low…I was convinced that I was not going to be able to continue the ride…I started to think about how I would get home, and how I would face everyone having failed to complete the trip, those thoughts got me very depressed and I will be honest – I cried like a baby…it was a long long walk back to Verdun. Thankfully the rain was only very light, but the wind was still very strong and the walk was not fun. We found a supermarche but they didnt sell spokes, they did however sell spoke keys and so Steve set about trying to repair the spokes I did have and even took a few from the front wheel to put in the back one. It was freezing cold and the job was painful but he managed to replace 2 spokes. After a quick test drive in the carpark we then found out that Steve also had a puncture, so that needed to be repaired before we decided what to do next.
By this time it was gone 2pm. There was no way we could ride to Reims, and indeed we didn’t know if my bike could take the journey, so we decided to get the train. French trains are great – Mr Brown, pls take a few trips on the French railway system and make copious notes on how to improve our sorry national rail service.
We arrived in Reims about 6pm and then preceded to walk another 7 or 8 miles across town to our hotel.
So we have arrived at Reims, it is a very busy place with a remarkable cathedrale..we are off to St. Quentin tomorrow – 55 miles or so, I am not sure if the bike will make it to be honest, I will have to go careful with it, it could break at any moment and short of buying a new wheel or new bike (I went in to a bike shop in Reims only to be told to get out as they closed 3 minutes before) there will be no cure and it will be the Eurostar back to Blighty..
Fingers crossed for tomorrow let’s get this cycle ride back on track…