Day 17 - (September 7th, 2014)
London to Paris via bike is a quite popular mini-adventure and therefore many websites exist detailing the many routes you can take. I wanted to challenge myself on this first major leg of the trip, and thought 4 days would be ample time to make it to The City of Lights.
So, after a hearty breakfast at my hotel (where I instituted what would become a ritualistic morning theft of rolls, meats, and cheeses that would constitute my 2nd meal of the day before lunch) I left London for the 65+ mile ride into the coastal town of Newhaven.
The ride started out arduous though as getting out of London was quite the cluster f#ck! Not only is it difficult to navigate on the wrong side of the road, but also double decker buses absolutely run the roads and they stop every few blocks and do not yield to bikes. Further, the city has been slow to adopt bikes as a viable method of travel so their bike lanes are sporadic at best. However, once out of London, the roads quickly widened and scenery changed to beautiful rolling hillsides.
After about 30 miles, I decided to stop for lunch at a majestic 17th century inn/pub called The Bell in the heart of the Surrey countryside. Surrounded by a National Park, this pub was an idyllic spot to have lunch outside on a beautiful day. Further, Zach and I had been determined to find the best fish & chips across Ireland and the UK and this place had the best of the whole trip!
Stuffed and slightly buzzed after 3 heavy beers, I got back on the road with high spirits on the way to Newhaven. The rest of the ride was beautiful, yet uneventful until I passed Lewes, just short of Newhaven. I kept missing turns in the countryside and therefore ended up in Newhaven just before dark and slightly behind schedule.
Since there were only two hours until my ferry left, I made the horrible mistake of not eating before I made my way to the Newhaven ferry terminal. Stupidly, I thought checking in would be a long process like at the airport and I wanted to give myself enough time to shower, charge all my devices, and get situated for the next day’s ride.
With all my tasks completed, I looked around for any place to eat. Regrettably, there was nothing in the vicinity. Considering I burn roughly 60 calories per mile, I was at least 1500 calories in the hole with no quality prospects to fill that void. So, instead of attending to my most basic need, I told myself I’d just pick something up on the ferry.
Once finally on the ferry, there was little edible fare in the cafeteria (the home port must have been in England, not France). So, I devoured a bag of chips, an apple, and decided I would eat in Dieppe Harbor after de-boarding. Frustrated, I forced myself into a fitful sleep, as I needed whatever energy I had for the next day’s ride in France.