29 Jun Day 5: Stage 4
Day 5, Stage 4:
181 km Dunkerque-Calais.
Today was a special stage as Ollie and camper Ben from Youth Adventure Trust rode with us and we were all inspired by the amazing work this project does to help kids gain confidence and resilience. Ben rocked it on the bike today, telling us all that his favourite part was going downhill 🙂
It was also special today as we all contemplated what went on here during World War II and I felt thankful to be out riding my bike freely and enjoying the beautiful day.
Each day the first 30km or so of the stage takes us to the first feed stop. No one leaves that first stop until the last rider comes in. This keeps the group closer together and also gives everyone an opportunity to ride with all the different cyclists. I also love it because it serves as a great warm up!
Stage 4 was the first stage in France and it had the most spectacular scenery so far. I absolutely love climbing (not so much descending – well I do love descending but I just don’t go as fast as many others) on my bike so, with over 6000 feet of ascent, I was a happy camper! Today from feed stop 1-3 I rode with a new group and the pace lining was once again awesome! Riding in a pace line makes the kilometres fly by as you rotate continuously in a circle, but it also requires a huge amount of brain focus. We worked well together and as a result, we arrived at the feed stops 2 and then 3 relatively quickly. As we started to hit more sweeping descents, I would fall a little bit behind and have to put in a pretty hard time trial effort/sprint to catch back up. It was super fun but at feed stop 3 I decided as it was only stage 4, I had better cruise it in, and I rode the rest of the stage solo. And man, did I enjoy the last incredible climbs and views!
The support in Le Loop is top-notch! The people are amazing, the food is amazing, EVERYTHING is amazing!
At the last feed stop I was rolling out with the group again but I followed the signs (there was a small adjustment to the official route) while they followed the true route so I had to giggle as I rode completely solo wondering if the group was in front or behind and played a game in my mind where I was the breakaway rider in the Tour de France (though not riding quite as hard) wondering if I would be swallowed up by the fast-approaching peloton. Turns out they were in front and so there was no victory of getting my name first on the massage list! Everyone can sign up for a 10-minute massage for 10 Euros and there is a list we all want to get our names on, as soon as we pull into the finish!
Stage 5 has 20km of cobbles and while I watched all the seasoned riders change their wheel set or tires, I became a little more nervous about the bone-shaking experience we are all to experience tomorrow. Let’s do it!