Torbay CTC - Normandy landings. By G.Brodie. And so it was that another contingent from Torbay set off across the murky channels of Le Manch to sunny France again. Cherbourg can be a grey place, but we ( the 150Km riders) set off Eastwardly on a cold but bright morning. Indeed it was still quite dimpsy as our docking at 7.30 was 6.30 French time. The road along the North Coast was deserted, and conversation was light as we shivered our way to Barfluer. By the time we got there everything was bathed in glorious morning sunshine. We admired views and visited the Boulangeries/Pattiseries for stocks, and headed South down the "beachy" side of the peninsula. This is area of the Normandy landings, full of monuments and memories of more violent times. We all stopped for hot drinks in St.Vaast Lla Houge and then headed out into a stiff crosswind down the level coast road, which is a continuous beach for miles and miles ( sorry - kilometres et kilometres). On route happened and incident worthy of the CTC Risk Assessment Form, while Les Prior and meself indulged in a touch of frivolity with Mark Williams. The latter is always useful as a tug in a headwind, and this was an ideal occasion. When Les joined in however I thought Mark may slow to a stall speed so disengaged. When Les tried the same his finger appeared to be stuck in Marks rack? Anyway the forces in play were far from equilateral, and nature must take it's course, - in this case a horizontally flying Les across my bows. Fortunately (??) Les's flight was stopped by a barbed wire fence in which he became well and truly engorged! Amazingly apart from so extra ventilation in hisAirtex Jersey, he was completely unscathed. Les has an on board computer system measuring just about everything he does, following his spell in hospital. One thing he 'aint supposed to do is put himself under too much stress. I'm sure there were wisps of smoke coming from the side of the computer. Anyway we stopped to explore a few troop carriers and tanks scattered around the coast as monuments and then arrived at the Utah beach where there is a huge monument and museums et al. If you ever go, on of the most interesting things was the little souvenir shop. At the back is a small café/bar, which is full of old wartime radios, equipment, uniforms, you almost feel as if a shell is going to come whizzing over your head at any moment. It was a relatively short hop to St.Mere Eglise, a place I've visited many times, famous for it's paratrooper hanging about on the side of the church ( a very fine church.) We had lunch here, and here had to opportunity to rename one of our brethren. The previously know Ian Weatherill disappeared at lunchtime and was nowhere to be seen. However odd noises were coming from inside the church, and on investigation what looked like a pile of wrinkled cassocks on a pue, turned out to be the former having a doze. With the noises ensuing from this individual it was decided that hereinafter he would be known as the "Snore de France". Well time to get back to the cycling. Following minor roads through Orglandes, we stopped to visit a beautiful kept war cemetery. This one for German soldiers. It was moving if not shocking to see the sheer numbers of small headstones and crosses in perfect lines in all directions. We learn absolutely nothing it seems. Feeling somewhat sobered by all this we set off again. I dropped my lenses on the road, had to retrieve them and lost the bunch. I tried chasing hard, but a problematic left knee decided to awake, and it was a struggle to catch up. We regrouped in Valognes, from where it was a steady ride with some long drags back to the coastal road, and it was still quite breezy, but we arrived in Cherbourg in time to do some booze shopping in the big supermarket, and rounded the whole thing off with a superb meal at the Café Du Theatre who did us proud. Many thanks to Geoff for superb organisation once again. Here's to February 2004. ( Final Note: The bad bit which I shall not dwell on was theft of bike, complete with spare clothing, cycling jackets, passports etc..etc..outside the café. Spoilt my weekend somewhat, but nothing compared to what the poor blighters had to put up with out there in 1945!) CHECK OUT MORE RIDE PHOTOS on www.ctcdevon.co.uk

RETURN to DEVON Homepage.

More images