Stage 2: Saint-Lô to Cherbourg

Team Bigfoot

Cycling summary

Breakfast: 05:45. Transfer: 30 minutes. Start time: 07:35. Distance: 186 km. Terrain: undulating (2,300 metres). Climbs: one category 3, three category 4. Finish: 16:55. Time in the saddle: 7:25 hours.

Please forgive any typos and formatting issues as I am having to do this all on my phone and it’s a bit fiddly. I might sort it out on my return. [Update: done]

Local lowdown

The Cherbourg specialities include a couple of odd things. “Demoiselles de Cherbourg”, literally “young ladies of Cherbourg”. But these are small lobsters cooked in broth and are probably not very demure when they are first lobbed into the pot. Then there is also “Le veritable Cherbourg umbrella”. An odd thing to list perhaps. Must have something to do with the proximity to the UK.

Tale from the Tour

Today’s ride also stayed within La Manche and we were sailing along (albeit mostly into a headwind) heading north, where across the waters you can see Jersey.

You can just about make out Jersey, boys

We have got into a good routine already it seems, after a bit of faffing on the first morning. The night before, we have our main bags packed ready for loading in the morning and which we won’t see again until the evening, and day bags ready too. We can access those at the feed stations to retrieve/deposit extra kit if we want. That means that we can get up and down to breakfast in about 20 minutes now, which is good news given the early starts! I feel like we are already old hands at this and it’s only Day 2.

There are four feed stops each day at approx 40 km intervals which works well and this divides each ride into five. Nobody leaves the first one until all have arrived, to make it more sociable. The stops are always welcome and are well stocked.

Feedstop 1
Abbaye de Hambye

The first section was the prettiest, passing through wooded areas. It also contained the first two cat 4 climbs (pimples really). Fans of Asterix may know this area as Amorique and on one of the climbs I could just imagine the Gaulish village of Petitbonum nestling in the valley below!

Section 2 I road mostly on my own as I kept stopping to take photos of the views and of the various decorations put up to welcome the Tour.

For the rest of the ride Gary and I worked well together and looked out for each other. Great teamwork, though at one point I was aware of being a little late coming through to take my turn as I was mesmerised by his socks!

Gary’s hypnotic socks

Section three was long and flat and straight and windy. For a few km we were on the same road as people riding the stage we did yesterday as the two crossed briefly. We caught up with a couple who had missed their turn and now had to retrace their steps for at least 10km, making their long ride even longer. Poor them.

Section 4 followed the coast but the busy roads made this road more functional than enjoyable, especially when the sea was masked by the dunes. We did enjoy the mechanical cow below though – watch out for her on TV next week when I am sure she will be pedalling!

Entering Vasteville – not a big town, but very pretty


One of many giant constructions along the Tour route

In the final section was a cat 3 climb that has not been used by the Tour de France before or indeed any race. For me this was an average climb with one 14% bend, so not too taxing.

Back in time for a massage before a cold beer and some dinner.

Pensee du Pédaleur

We ended today in Cherbourg. In times past, this was the first port of call on my way from Cardiff to Nantes as part of a school exchange. So began my love of France. Looking ahead at the route, I have a feeling that I will be reminiscing somewhat on what different parts of the country mean to me. One thing that sticks in my mind from my first visit was my friend Adrian buying a tin of snails to take home and eat, much to our horror! Many years later I was round Adrian’s house and we were rooting in the kitchen for some snacks to go with our beers. Guess what was lurking at the back of the cupboard! Yes, and there they stayed! Youthful bravado, and now of course I am indulging in some rather less youthful bravado. But still, that’s two days safely completed.

One thought on “Stage 2: Saint-Lô to Cherbourg”

  1. Great notes John. Just like riding along side you both.

    So Gary’s swollen knee is better?

    Yours, Hugh

    Thanks Hugh – yes, but it’s the other knee now! Will be ok though.


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