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Dieppe Tour 2017 - Four Men Minus One

by
Pat Fallon

photos by
Greg Robertson


Greg Robertson suggested a change to our usual journey for the annual Dieppe Tour. In recent years we have taken the train to Brighton on the Saturday morning and cycled along the coast to Newhaven for the ferry to Dieppe and then returned on the Monday ferry and caught the train from Newhaven via Lewes to East Croydon. Greg's plan this year was to travel out on Thursday heading to Portsmouth for the overnight ferry to Le Havre from where we would cycle to Rouen for a night's stay and then on to Dieppe on Saturday.

In addition to Greg, Andy Bebington, Bob Yellen and myself signed up for the trip. Unfortunately, Andy had to abandon as he was suffering from a virus, which was a great loss as he is the only one of us who can speak French and we would miss his company. Greg and I agreed to get a train from East Croydon to Pulborough and then ride to Portsmouth while Bob planned to ride from Sutton to Portsmouth.


Day 1 - 44 Miles

The weather was warm as we started from Pulborough and headed along the A283 which we left at Fittleworth and resisted the temptation to stop at the Swan Inn for beer. However, after travelling on quiet country roads we thought we should check out the Three Moles at Selham which was fortunately open although the kitchen was being refurbished. We had the place to ourselves and sat outside in front of the pub and had a couple of pints from the Long Man Brewery.

We proceeded with a pleasant ride on quiet lanes along the foot of the South Downs through Graffham, Cocking, Bepton and decided to climb over the Downs from South Harting. Sadly, my fitness was poor and I had to get off and walk most of the hill, Greg also walked a shorter stretch nearer the top. It was late afternoon but the roads were surprisingly quiet. We descended from the Downs and passed through Finchdean, Rowlands Castle and on through Havant before joining the coastal cycle path to take us on to Portsmouth. Greg's wife Sue had recommended a Harvester restaurant The Great Saltern Mansion on the east side of Portsmouth as a suitable place for dinner before joining our ferry. Greg and I arrived around 7.00 p.m. and Bob shortly after. Bob had some bad news, he had hit a stone on the road and cracked his rear rim - he did not use his rear brake for the remainder of the trip and I am pleased to say that the rim held out. We had a short two mile ride to the ferry port for our Brittany Ferry to Normandy. On board we had a comfortable en-suite cabin and all had a good night's sleep.


Day 2 - 75 Miles

After disembarkation we had coffee in a nearby café opposite the train station and followed this with croissants from a nearby patisserie. We started out on our ride at 10.00 a.m. and were at the mercy of Greg who had plotted a route on his Garmin. This was pleasing since I had no sense of direction on which way we should set off. My only problem was that I may have anticipated a flat ride along the banks of the Seine but our route took us up a very sharp hill a few miles outside Le Havre which Greg had chosen to avoid an industrial zone by the river. Needless to say I had a walk up the hill.

Seine

Seine Promenade at Caudebec-en-Caux.

Seine

Pat and Bob.

Seine

Greg.

I struggled most of the ride due to my ailments - sore bottom, feet and upper right arm. Since my return from the trip I have increased the height of my saddle and this appears to have improved my comfort. I have to thank my two companions for their patience in waiting for me as I caught up with them throughout the ride. We stopped for lunch at Fontenelle and initially had to sit outside in the chilly wind but were able to move inside once we had finished our starters. The accompanying Leffe beer went down very nicely.

Seine

Roald Amundsen Memorial.

We rode along the side of the river passing several pleasant villages but did not stop for any refreshments as we were running a bit late. We arrived at our hotel in Rouen around 8.00 p.m. and after a shower we ventured into the town where we found a nice restaurant next to a church for dinner.

Seine

Champs de Mars, Rouen.

Seine

Rouen, Medieval Town.


Day 3 - 40 Miles

We had an excellent buffet breakfast in our hotel and then cycled into the old city centre to take a look around and view the Cathedral.

Rouen Cathedral

Rouen Cathedral.

Rouen Cathedral

Rouen Cathedral

Rouen Cathedral

Rouen Cathedral

Rouen

Heading under the Gros-Horloge, Fourteenth-Century Astronomical Clock.

We had a big hill to climb on leaving Rouen but I surprisingly managed to cycle to the top. Our route to Dieppe was on quiet roads and in good weather. We stopped at a café in Bosc-le-Hard for a beer and a local man told Bob that he had an English face!

Rouen

Fontaine-le-Bourg.

Rouen

Watermill near Fontaine-le-Bourg.

Rouen

Café stop in Bosc-le-Hard.

We rode on to Dieppe along the D100 arriving in plenty of time to have a shower before heading to the sports centre for the welcome from the Dieppe officials. As usual we were provided with local cider and delicious small buns after the speeches. Afterwards we retired to our favourite bar beside the market where Horace Mouatt joined us. Horace had booked a table for us in a restaurant a short walk away and we had another good meal. After the meal we had a walk along the harbour and Bob booked a table for our Sunday night meal in small restaurant. Greg and I had a night cap in the Bar Anglais.


Day 4 - 66 Miles

We had opted to ride the 100km route which this year was in a clockwise direction. We headed up the valley of the River Eauline and stopped at Londinieres for a beer. It was warm and pleasant sitting in front of the café watching participants doing the 140km route passing including Phil Griffin. Leaving Londinieres we climbed over the hillside and dropped down to the Avenue Verte and headed to St Aubin le Cauf for our lunch at the Ecology Centre.

After lunch we carried on down the Avenue Verte and climbed out of the valley passing the ruins of the Castle of Arques-la-Bataille. We headed in a westerly direction passing through villages we recalled from past events, including Hermanville and Gueures and we hit the coast at Quiberville. We rode on the D75 along the coast which took us up the steep climb to Dieppe at Pourville. We were rewarded with a fast drop into Dieppe back to the Sports Centre. Sadly we did not have any of luck with the raffle this year. Phil Griffin picked up two trophies at the presentation for the least young male on the 140km ride and one for the least young male from England. When the presentation and speeches were over we were once again treated to cider and buns.

Dieppe

Trophies for Presentation at the Salle Municipale Paul Eluard.

Dieppe

Sunset at Dieppe Harbour.

Dieppe

Dieppe

In the evening we had an excellent 4 course meal in the restaurant booked the previous day by Bob. We wandered along the seafront after our meal and as the Bar Anglais was closed we used Le Class'ik bar for our night cap. We were joined by David Belton who we meet at Dieppe each year and also at his local the White Horse in Maplehurst, West Sussex when we visit the pub.


Day 5 - 40 Miles

As usual we had a short ride on our final day before catching the evening ferry. We had agreed to ride to Auffay for lunch in one of our favourite restaurants, Restaurant De la Scie. Horace was attempting to ride to Auffay solo, he was concerned about his level of fitness due to his lack of cycling because of illness.

Dieppe

Monument to Crashed American Bomber from 1944 at Rouxmesnil-Bouteilles.

Greg, Bob and myself headed out of Dieppe and repeated the climb up to the castle of Arques-la-Bataille. We stopped to take a look around the ruins and I was surprised how big the castle, surrounded by a very steep dry moat was. An information board informed us a castle was first built on the site over 1,000 years ago. After being besieged by William the Conqueror it went back and forth between the English and French until the 16th century.

Dieppe

Castle at Arques-la-Bataille.

Dieppe

Dieppe

Dieppe

Dieppe

We then headed down the undulating D100 and had to push on to get to Auffay by 12.00 a.m. We got there with 5 minutes to spare and found Horace enjoying a beer in a bar near the church. We joined him for a beer, listened to the midday peel of bells and watched the two figures from the bell tower popping out to strike the bells.

I had my best meal of the trip in the restaurant which we had also used last year. Following this we waved Horace off on the train bound for Dieppe and returned along the undulating valley of the River Scie. On arriving back at Hotel La Plage we received a complimentary beer and enjoyed this sitting in the sunny front garden. We bade Horace au revoir as he was staying for another couple of days and headed to the ferry and were among the last cyclists to board.

We had a smooth crossing, arrived on time in Newhaven and after getting through Customs we managed to catch an early train to Lewes. This allowed us to have a relaxed time changing platforms to catch the East Croydon train. We managed to get off the train at East Croydon despite it being packed with the large number of passengers who boarded at Gatwick Airport. We said our goodbyes to Bob who headed off to Sutton and Greg and myself headed for Norbury and Thornton Heath respectively.


Post Script

My thanks to Greg for organising the trip, booking the trains, hotels and the Le Havre ferry. Again thanks to Greg and Bob for continually waiting for me due to my lack of fitness, I will do better next year. Thanks to Andy for booking the Dieppe Hotel, La Plage.


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