4th March 2011
France appeared vast, open and exposed compared to the UK and the fields stretched off into the distance for as far as the eye could see. We felt slightly more vulnerable now on these unknown roads but to our surprise the French drivers were quite considerate towards us and left plenty of room when overtaking.
Night came on quite quickly and after 33 miles of cycling we began to discuss our options for the night ahead. We ended up sleeping in the garden of a kind, elderly French couple’s house who gave us water and the use of their toilet, tomorrow night we were not to be so lucky.
5th March 2011
It was another very cold night and this time we woke to droplets of ice on the inside of our tents, it must have fallen to below minus eight that night. In the morning our water was frozen, our brakes didn’t work because they were covered in frost and we could have done with a scraper for our speedometers and saddle. Despite the cold night it was not long before we warmed up through cycling.
It was a long and difficult first full day in France and constantly into the wind. We cycled quite a while after dark to try to make it to Hazebrouck but fell short by about four miles where we stopped to camp in a grassy field. The owners of the field must have heard us enter and came out to see what the commotion was. At this point we switched off our torches and waited in the dark for them to go back inside. For fear that we would be spotted we pitched up camp in complete darkness and fell asleep straight away.
6th March 2011
We got up before sunrise and were on the road by 7:45am. It was another clear and sunny day but the head wind we had been battling for the past two days had intensified. It was about 15 miles to the Belgium border which we reached by 10am after a breakfast break in Hazebrouck. France had treated us well and the local people had on the whole been very helpful and polite (contrary to our expectations). Good bye to baguettes and hello to good beer and chocolates!