Saturday, 3 September 2011

Day 2 - Portsmouth to Caen, Sermaise - Concourson Sur LayonSat 3rd September

The ferry docked at 6.45 am french time, a few short hours after they had gone to bed. Neither Pierre nor Joe like mornings, so this was a nightmare time to be up and about, but the open road beckoned! Around 50 WW2 American Army vehicles were disembarking at around the same time - everything from trucks and jeeps to motorcycles, with the odd automatic gun as well. The occupants were all dressed in authentic looking uniforms - on their way to a re-enactment or rally perhaps? It was a chilly 11 degrees as Pierre and Joe drove off to Sermaise, with dense fog around Le Mans .
After arriving at Sermaise and putting the bikes back together, they loaded up their panniers and headed for the supermarket at Maze to stock up with some supplies. A quick diversion past Chateau de Montgeoffroy and then it was across the Loire at St Mathurin Sur Loire. Another short diversion to go past the Chateau de Pimpean at Grezille and then back to the route. When they set out it was very hot, but there were showers en route and it turned cloudy and very humid. The first shower was refreshing but then they just got wet!
The roads were small roads in general, and the traffic wasn't too bad. The french car drivers gave them a wide berth ( remembering Le Tour perhaps) and even a tractor driver waved to them! Other cyclists were as usual, friendly, bonjouring and waving. They drove past troglodyte houses with bright blue shutters, typical of the region and beautifully kept. The countryside was nice - fields of sunflowers and vines, with a few sweetcorn. Pierre wizzed off into the distance from time to time, then waited for Joe to catch up. Joe was more cautious, with the healing head wound from his operation always on his mind.
When they reached the campsite at Concourson Sur Layon mid afternoon , they paid their site fee of 18 Euros and the booking fee of 10 Euros and headed for the bar - which was closed! Undaunted, after putting up their small tents, they walked 5 mins to a nearly friterie and procured some beers and Joe went swimming in the large swimming pool at the campsite. Pierre opted not to, and discovered that he had forgotten to pack any t-shirts. No wonder his panniers were smaller this year and he had room for his kindle! Then it was more refreshment at the friterie and they checked out the menu. After comparing it with the onsite campsite restaurant menu, they opted for merguez and frites at the friendly friterie, washed down with more beer!
They'd taken photos en route and tried to send them to me by phone as usual, but they hadn't come through. Joe then bit the bullet and paid the data charge to send them by email, but they remained in his outbox so no photos until that can be overcome. Whilst he was trying to access the campsite wifi, another man was trying to access it as well. He asked about the bikes and it turned out that he was a cycle enthusiast as well.
Joe and Pierre returned to their tents and then decided to borrow a couple of camping chairs from outside the empty mobile home opposite them. They had two plastic cups from the friterie, so opened their bottle of Bordeaux that I had sent with them. They were half way down it when they received a visitor - Keith the cycle enthusiast they'd been talking to earlier. He and his wife had felt sorry for them and he had come to invite them over to their mobile home for a glass of wine. Accepting with aclarity, they took the remainder of their wine over and spent the rest of the evening talking about cycling and drinking wine in great company. They really enjoyed themselves. The couple, from Scotland, knew the immediate area well and warned them that none of the cafes would be open for breakfast the next morning and kindly invited them to join them at 9 am for breakfast. A cyclist needs fuel!

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