Monday, April 1, 2013

Day 3 - France bike trip: Hazebrouck - Maroeuil

Today was a mixed experience. Beautiful sunny sky, not too cold, beautiful scenery.  I had lunch in a brasserie, which is a major improvement over my previous gastronomic experiences when cycling solo (cold sandwiches or canned food on the side of the road. ) I saw a cycling race along the road with both adults and children participating.  I also saw patches of snow at some point, on the side of the road.  Pictures are below.

On the other hand...

This morning, I lost a screw for my gopro camera, which I attach to my handlebars. As I was mounting the camera, the screw fell into the grass, and it turned into a "needle in a haystack" adventure. That's not a big deal though, as I can probably find a replacement at a hardware store like bricorama.

There were high winds and a few hills today that made the ride challenging.

I reserved a room in Maroeuil. I thought it would be practical as it is a bit closer to Hazebrouck than the next "major" city, Arras.  Upon arrival at the "hotel", I read the fine print of the hotel policies : credit card or bank card not accepted. Must pay in cash. And the nearest ATM is in Arras, 7km away.

Apparently there are no restaurants nearby, and this "hotel" serves only breakfast, not dinner.

The nice lady in charge here offered to pick up a meal for me, since she had to go into town anyway.

But as I'm waiting for her to come back, I'm wondering how I'm going to pay. Before she left, the lady told me I could retrieve money at the tobacco shop next door. I said "cool, let's do that". She left, and I went to the tobacco store. They told me they could not let me retrieve money.

So, as I'm writing this, I'm wondering what I'm going to say when she gets back. Luckily, I have enough cash to pay for the room, but not the takeout food she is getting.

I've been to "hotels" in the middle of nowhere before, but I've never been to a hotel which only accepts cash and is located 7km from the nearest ATM. Wtf?

I was also planning on staying a whole day here, to have a rest day. I'm not sure how that is going to turn out...

That said, the hotel room is lovely and is equipped with a kitchen and microwave.
In other news, BoD, who had to return home, is my unofficial (and unqualified) remote personal trainer.  We've tried an approach to take it easy, as I'm feeling a bit sore from the first couple of days.  Today, I had 60km to cover. For people in shape, that's probably no big deal. But that's a challenge for me.  So, instead of trying to knock off the kilometers as fast as possible, I aimed at biking 30 minutes, resting 10-15 minutes, and repeating. During the rests, I stretched and took pictures, and sent my personal trainer a message to prove I was taking my break, and to hear some motivational speech.

With this approach, I biked (and rested) from 9:30 to 6:30, so about 9 hours. I'm not sure if this approach is better or worse for muscles than doing an intense ride for 5 or 6 hours and then having the rest of the day to recover.


  1. These are lovely roads to ride on. I envy you.
    Maybe you should carry a little more money for emergencies such as that. Although the cash only policy certainly is more the exception than the rule.
    Take care, sweetheart, and keep the spirit high. You can do it.

    1. I did have some cash, but apparently not enough :-) Well, now I have a bit more.

      Thanks :-)

  2. Wow, can't wait to hear how you worked things out with the lady getting your food. Maybe you could mail her a check when you get back home? Although she might not believe you will, it would still be a nice thing to do :-)

    1. Well she actually drove me to the ATM today. I think they want a good review on :-) I'll probably rate their service very high, but still mention this cash-only policy in my review, to give a heads up to future potential customers :-)

  3. There is almost always a breaking-in period when you're on tour. Your body and even your mind has to get used to being out there all day long and day after day I kind of expect the first few days to be irritating, but after day 4 or so, something seems to happen and I stop thinking about my body or worrying about the road ahead. At that point the road starts to welcome me and a kind of happiness sets in. I hope that's true for you, too, and that it happens soon. Hang in there, Carmen!

    1. I remember that moment on my Paris - Bordeaux trip! I had planned to do Orleans - Blois on day 3. My knees were so dead, I stopped halfway at Beaugency and stayed a whole day there in bed (kind of like right now :-)). The following day, I made it to Blois, but it was still a bit hard, but a shorter distance. It was the day after that, going from Blois to Tours. As I approached Amboise (halfway) either my body got stronger, the slopes got flatter, the skies bluer, or all of the above, but something clicked and I felt like I could do this. :-)

      However, going to London, I got a tendinitis that lasted over a month, so I'm a bit cautious about being overly optimistic and thinking this is just a one - day aches and pains thing. We'll see in the next couple of days!

      Thanks for the encouragement :-)