We have wanted for sometime to test our resolve by cycling from our home near Mortain to the sea at Ouistreham, and back – many reasons, including, can we make the trip in a day? – in time to catch the ferry to England – within daylight hours?
Day 1 16th June 2017 (JW)
Left PN39 at 8:30, felt good until at Romagny picnic site, then had the morning lag – stopped at Le Neufbourg, chat with English lady with yorkie (large one!). plodded-on on track, took to the road and felt better!!
Route going well through Rancoudray St. Clement, Fresne Poret to Tinchbray where Music Festival was setting up for tomorrow.
Bought cake and left town through tricky One-way system on to a not very pleasant mainish road on which lorries were being diverted. My new fluorescent yellow top was attracting tiny black critters, meaning I had to cover up when stationary.
We had a welcome coffee stop in Montsecret, after which the road was less busy. An undulating route followed and my motor was helping a lot. Found the picnic site at very tall Calvaire just out of St. Lambert for a snack lunch – another site in town was under–going a revamp. Great scoot along a ridge, then the Garmin decided to go off-road.
We did some of it and then decided to take the shortest way to the road. This led to the first signposts for Thury-Harcourt (our day’s destination). A very bumpy, long downhill finally arrived at the River Orne and we picked up the Velo Francette.
They are always keeping an eye on us
Where’s my drink!
Arhhh…. I needed that!
Plentiful picnic sites along our chosen route
We arrived in Thury-Harcourt at 14:15 and as expected our hotel “Relais de la Poste” didn’t open until 16:00 so we killed time roasting under a chestnut tree, watching the local school having cyclo-cross lessons. Then we found some yummy icecreams at Glace Gilvos in the square – prepared to order, lemon and mint and fresh strawberry!.
The Chateau – Thury-Harcourt
Dinner sorted at our Hotel, Relais de la Poste
The Hotel room was fine except for the unfinished electrics hanging out the ceiling. Bike storage was good in a locked basement garage – tricky steps down to the entrance. A couple of beers in town, a nice meal in the hotel and after a quick recce of the entrance to the Voie Vert to follow to Caen in the morning, we were ready for bed.
Trip Distance: 67,4km Time cycling:3:55 hrs – JW
The Chateau is impressive but not lived in any more
The town of Thury-Harcourt, like almost all of the towns in this area were badly damaged in WW2. It is obvious if one looks closely that the buildings were repaired/rebuilt in a hurry but looks as though a great attention was paid to try and recover the original elegance of the interesting town. We couldn’t help reflecting on the probable lack of skilled builders, just post war.
Thury-Harcourt Station, now the starting point of the Voie-Verte to Caen. We are looking back to the current entrance, the building, which is the old station, is now an excellent Cafe.
South of Thury-Harcourt station the old tracks still exist – awaiting future extension of the cycle-way
Perhaps primitive, but better than usual graffiti around railway depots…
Looking north from the station, the tunnel gives tired legs the relief that they have not got to work so hard over the hills! The whole 28kms into Caen is beautiful smooth tarmac.
Day 2 17th June 2017 (JW)
An amazing “tarmac” Voie-Verte to Caen (28k). Checked into Hotel du Chateau, which seemed fine, (one street in from the Port du Plaisance). Trams go past our window! Confirmed our booking and the locked garage for the bikes.
Great views of the river Orne from the cycle track
Approaching Caen the route runs through the trotting course….
We followed the still tarmac track to Ouistreham, passing Pegasus Bridge around 1300-ish – very busy. Cycled on to Ouistreham gun emplacement opposite Brittany Ferries, quick photo shoot and back before the wind went round to the South! We were back to Pegasus Bridge in time for a welcome Croque Monsieur and drink at the 3 Planeurs (bit pricey, but what isn’t?) It was then back to the Hotel for a BATH!
The famous Pegasus Bridge cafe – we decided to eat in the modern cafe opposite which gives a better view of the original!
Just to prove we made it!
Walking around a City is a bit of a novelty these days, which made in more enjoyable even though it was still 28 degrees at 1900. We opted for La Maison d’Italie , which was a little off the main street, but did an excellent pizza and tiramisu, which we walked off round the Port. A very hot night and I don’t know how long those trams are going to run…..
Trip Distance: 60km Time cycling: 3:25 hrs (JW)
Day 3 18th June 2017 (JW)
Hot and a bit noisy – cities never sleep! Ample continental breakfast and off to find it’s Market Day (impressive one) filling most of the Quay. So a slow start threading through stalls and strollers.. Stopped at the Trotting Circuit ( as we did 30 years ago) to check the Garmin and back on to that ribbon of tarmac, the Voie-Verte, making good time to Thury-Harcourt, quick coffee in the old Station Café which was just opening. Nattered with other cycling couples – impressed with our Clik-Stands! Now more or less following the Francette, which unfortunately had a detour due to bridge work just south of Thury-Harcourt. This involved a rough track for about 3 km before a very hilly road to Clecy. It’s not known as Suisse Normande for nothing!. The BionX was coping well, we had charged it each night, but it was still over half charged at this point .We passed through a very busy riverside leisure area on the Orne – it was Father’s Day which might have swelled the visitors.
I stopped to let the “real” cyclist complete his climb and to orientate ourselves on an old railway crossing to find “Chez Lulu” a café in a field next to the track, obviously about to be turned into another Voie-Verte. An excellent gammon and chips were had for lunch – perfect timing.
We ended up following our noses, as well as the GPS from now due to routing problems – but as so often happens cycling, we enjoyed a surprising and interesting route, not taking us too far out of our way! The view is Conde-sur-Noireau.
Still more undulations, we had left the Francette to head back to Tinchbray – the route managed to avoid Conde-sur-Noireau. The Garmin went a bit off-roady again as we approached Tinchbray but as a rather uninviting uphill presented, a gentleman arrived at his cottage, he advised a better way into Tinchbray and refilled our depleted water bottles.
Still a smile on her face – so can’t be too bad – think it has something to do with her BionX power plant I have attached to her Surly – she seemed to be getting faster and faster up hills – but eventually I realised it was actually me getting a lot slower!
The distance to home was coming down – bottles getting low again so the little café at Fresne-Poret came to the rescue with water and cold drinks (a contrast to JOGLE when it was hot coffee and a warm-up) Still following the Garmin, it decided to off-road again (12km from home) and annoyingly this resulted in a back-track on a rough surface. We got back on familiar roads and would work out the problem later. Only a couple more hazards before home – lose chippings on the start of the long descent from the Petite Chapelle and a large group of pilgrims straddling the road on their way to Mont-St.Michel!
Gerry threatened to give me a penalty if I still had power segments left, I had one at the start of the descent so used the regenerate to pretend this was the reason but in fact when we reached our door at the bottom of the descent, I had two!
Trip Distance:103,7km Cycling time: 5.41hrs (JW)