There are two types of people in the world. Ones who turn up on time and ones who don't. Luckily Ian is one of those people who operates his timing with military precision, so when he said he would pick me up at 15:30, he really meant it. Luckily I had been ready and sitting on the sofa itching to leave for the last half an hour - it was all far too exciting for a Saturday afternoon!
The plan was simple, head to Dover on Saturday afternoon, Sleep, Get up early and jump on a boat to France, ride in France all day, then get back home for dinner time.
After picking up the various club members we switched into convoy mode and started the journey towards the port of Dover. Typically, the traffic couldn't have been worse, but after lots of banter, some laughing and a well-picked diversion to avoid the M3 we ended up in the seaside town.
After 4 hours in the car, it was a welcome break to carry our bikes up 4 stories, although we believe the hotel was playing a trick on us as every new set of stairs got smaller and smaller until the final flight up to the 4th floor with a comedy-sketch style maneuver in the middle. As hilarious as that was, we all agreed that it was the lift we'd be taking the next morning.
The team assembled in the local italian and 'carbed up' with lots of pizza and pasta, before having a much needed night-cap and hitting the hay.
"Beep Beep" "beep beep" "BEEEP BEEEEP" - The alarm sounded. 4:30 in the morning had rolled around far too quickly for some in the group, but it was up, kit on and ready to go.
30 mins later, we were signed on and waiting at the dock to board the ferry. Its a very odd feeing being surrounded by so many riders before the sun has even risen. A nervous energy flowed through the group whilst we waited, but we were soon boarded and eating coffee and croissants on the 2 hour crossing.
The boat ride went very quickly and we were soon disembarking on French soil. It was about to begin! Crossing the start line we were all thinking "Couldn't have been luckier with the weather", nice and warm and no rain in sight - superb!
All members of the group were riding the 'EPIC' route - 76 Miles of perfect tarmac, beautiful climbing and fast decents which could easily have been mistaken for sections of the Tour de France. Rolling fields with beautiful scenery was the norm, with lots of riding time spent observing the view!
5 Hours later, it was all over as the team cruised back into Calais. A well needed protine bar and a 2 hour sit down on the ferry was just what the doctor ordered. Lots of smiley but tired cyclists!
We rolled off the ferry at dover and after dispatching the cruel climb to the car-park the team bundled back into the cars and headed for home - a very, very good day out!
Thanks to Ian for organising transport and very well done to all riders!