Day 18 - (September 8th, 2014)
I woke up at 5am to the deafening sound of a ferry horn as we approached Dieppe Harbor. What an interesting start to the most challenging day of my trip so far. Definitely a bad case of the Mondays…
Considering I did not yet have a SIM card that worked in France, I spent the first part of the morning using the Wi-Fi in the ferry building to plan my ride as well as book hotels for the next few days. I did not feel great at the moment, so decided to only do 40-50 miles that day and booked a place for the night in Gournay-en-Bray.
Content with the route ahead of me, I rode into Dieppe proper to see if I could grab a large breakfast anywhere. At this point, it was only 8am and nothing was open in this beautiful port city. Dejected, I rode further on my way expecting to find food along the way.
Unfortunately, I would find out later that nearly every shop in rural France is closed on Sundays and Mondays. After the first 15-20 miles, I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone as every one of the 10 restaurants I tried to stop at was closed.
Another 5-10 miles went by and panic started to set in. Since I didn’t have a SIM card, I could not call or search for any restaurants in the area. Further, I rarely saw another person on the path as it was secluded from the road. I needed to eat… STAT
My equilibrium was slightly off and I almost fell a few times out of sheer exhaustion. At this point, I told myself I could only go a few more miles before I would be forced to knock on the door of the next house I saw to ask for sustenance.
Finally, a large business park materialized on the horizon. Thoughts of a false desert oasis crept into my head, but as I got closer, I was positive that golden arches were coming into focus.
I HAVE NEVER BEFORE BEEN SO HAPPY TO SEE A MCDONALD’S IN MY LIFE!
Thankfully, this quintessential sign of American-made obesity and excess was open for business in a country that was closed for the day. I parked Bertha out by the children’s play area and immediately dashed in to order 40 CHICKEN NUGGETS!
I must have looked a tad out of place here, what with my helmet still on and dirty, disheveled riding clothes. For some reason beyond me, no one could understand my order. Finally, through a combination of sign language and pointing, they realized that I was both crazy and crazy hungry.
Finally satisfied with feast in hand, I went back to the play area and immediately crushed 40 nuggets and 2 large sodas. WOOF… Exhausted, I rested my head on the table with my arm around my bike and immediately passed out.
I awoke to the sound of children playing, but what language were they speaking? Discombobulated, I looked around; saw the golden-arches, then the play area, and finally my bike. Oh yeah, I was riding my bike across Europe and now I’m in the middle of nowhere in Normandy. I glanced at my watch and I was asleep for a solid 2 hours!
Embarrassed yet satisfied I was many miles away from anybody that would notice me, I hopped on my bike and rode away like the place was on fire. There were only 12 more miles to my hotel for the night and I knew I would soon be sleeping like a baby on a trans fats high!
I arrived in Gournay-en-Bray around 4pm and everything again was closed. How does anything get done in France! Thankfully there was a corner brasserie that was open for an hour and I was able to get more sustenance before I zonked out for the night. What a day!