Rouen Weekend - September 2008 by Paul Coan
After missing several visits to our Rouen friends' ride "Les Rives de la Seine", I decided to make the effort and join in this year. I had however been quite happy to provide accommodation to our French friends on their visits to us. Our regular organiser Keith Wawman was unable to participate (get well soon Keith) so Mike Sutton, a regular for this event, became liaison officer. On the other side of the pond Phlippe Pompili was now the French contact as Robert Bellini had moved away from the area. By telephone, Philippe had assured me that accommodation with French families would be no problem for those who wanted this.
In anticipation of continued roadworks on the A27 close to Newhaven, I allowed an additional hour for travel and found that the works were now complete leading to a two-hour wait for the 9.30 sailing. There was an further two-hour delay caused by additional loading time for the traffic diverted from the Channel Tunnel due to the fire earlier. I chatted for a while with a Brighton student intending to cycle-camp to Perpignan from Dieppe and fly back. I could barely lift up his bike.
Others due on this sailing for the event were non-starters so only Mike and I boarded after our four-hour wait, compensated by travel on one of the new boats on this crossing. On our arrival at Dieppe, a small welcoming party awaited. As the late arrival now precluded our usual ride to Rouen, those who were to accompany us had already set off and Mike and I were taken by car to our respective hosts.
I was billeted with Christian Descotes and family who had stayed with son Nathan chez moi last year. He was in Fontaine le Bourg approx. 15 km from Rouen so a short drive was necessary to the town centre that evening to meet Mike and Mo, Keith and Marilyn, Mike and Ian Deegan for a meal with RAC club members.
A drive was again necessary to reach St. Martin de Boscheville just north-west of Rouen, the event HQ, to sign on for the 134km ride with about six others. The route was the same as on previous visits from this HQ, being a large circuit to the west of Rouen and none the worse for it, using roads alongside and following the Seine plus the usual quiet roads through local forests and involving several ferry crossings of the Seine. Our group was all fairly evenly matched so a steady pace was maintained for lunch back at St. Martin and an opportunity for some sun bathing in contrast to the cool start in the morning. The afternoon circuit of only 50km (on paper) was slightly more to the north and included more ferry crossings before our return to event HQ, to show a total of around 150km before a short presentation speech accompanied by the usual vin d'honour with a special bonus to the anglais of a RAC jersey each.
As my host had taken the following Monday off, initially to take Nathan to college in Rouen, he agreed to accompany me back to Dieppe, or rather I followed him on an excellent route via St. Valery and then Veules les Roses for lunch of some excellent moules frites before meeting up with Mike and Mo for the ferry home.
An excellent weekend, comprising first class route on Sunday, well surfaced roads and hosts who really relish the idea of welcoming fellow cyclists. Philippe Pompili is keen that we should continue to return with maybe more British riders to build up the event, without it becoming too large to handle. So if you have maybe missed out a few years it may be worth considering our next visit in two years’ time.
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