Sunday, April 16, 2006

Friday 14th April - Pont de Normandie, not recommended

We crossed the Pont de Normandie today, an impressively huge structure spanning the Seine river at Le Havre, which we had to cross one way or another. We were swept off the main roads onto a cycle path which led up onto the bridge and then spat us out onto a narrow cycle lane running alongside the motorway over the bridge. When I say "lane", I mean there was a white line between us and the hurtling lorries. And when I say "narrow", dgym's trike only just fit. It was a brutal climb up to the apex of the bridge, from which it would have been a lovely view, had the landscape been less industrial, or the weather a little brighter. The wind from passing lorries, normally a nuisance, was actually helpful in pulling us up the slope a little. We didn't get close enough to the other bridge to really tell, but I'm fairly sure it's the better option!

Hills are deceptive things. You see the road rising ahead of you on a straight stretch, and perspective can make it seem far more daunting that it really is. Or you will be heading for what you think is the top, only to find it isn't. Perhaps you've just got round a bend only to find yet another stretch of upwardly-sloping road, when you thought there couldn't possibly be any more. Often, hills become less intimidating once you're close up to them, perhaps you're already half way up before you even realise it. And then there are those that, once you're up close to them, you realise you're about to pedal up a cliff face. We found one of those today, just as we'd got clear of Le Havre. We cycled parallel to the bottom of this cliff for a good couple of miles, knowing we'd have to get up it somehow, at some point. The anticipation was horrible - reminded me of the London to Brighton ride, in which I had the fear of Ditchling Beacon for most of the way - the South Downs loomed up in front of us and yes, it did turn out to be a rather nasty climb. However, this one was different - and actually quite pleasant. It wound very gently up the cliff face, it barely seemed to be even taking us upwards, and none of it was actually steep. It was really quite well done, and a great example of why it's best not to presume anything about a hill before you've tried it.

The search for internet goes on. Today the tourist office at Bolbec directed us to a hotel just out of town, up a long and grinding hill, which supposedly had internet. When I asked about this at the hotel reception, the receptionist looked me as if I was on drugs. The hotel was too pricey to be worth it otherwise, so we rolled back down, unimpressed, and went for the cheapest in town.

Tomorrow, we hope to reach Dieppe.

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