Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Tour de Rêves Day Two

Tour de Rêves Day Two Coulon Marais Poitevin French Village Diaries
Tour de Rêves Day Two route

Despite being at home, eating a delicious meal prepared by Ade’s Mum and having cycled 94km, I didn’t sleep too well. My legs were alive and switching them (and my mind) off seemed to be almost impossible. Sleep took a while to arrive which meant I started day two rather tired. However, day two was to be a shorter day than day one with far less hills, so how hard could it be?

Tour de Rêves Day Two French Village Diaries
Tour de Rêves send off day two

Our first stop of the day was the village bar where coffee, croissants and a bar full of friendly faces greeted us and cheered us on our way. I don’t think any of us had expected the amount of support we were receiving, or realised how much it helped us, so thank you. 

Adrian and I were cycling on home territory today, the first 20km into Brioux-sur-Boutonne is a regular run for us through beautiful tree-lined roads that loosely follow the Boutonne river valley. There were a few weak rays of sun and once our cycling escorts from the village had left us there was time to chat as a foursome as we cycled along and all was well.

Tour de Rêves Day Two Auberge du Cheval Blanc Brioux French Village Diaries
Morning coffee at Auberge du Cheval Blanc

Although we had hoped for a day without rain, just as we set off from coffee at the Auberge du Cheval Blanc in Brioux, it poured. Out came the rain jackets to cover up our beautiful team jerseys and with the rain came the wind. We were headed west, loaded with the extra weight of panniers for the first time and cycling into a headwind that gave the same overall effect of cycling uphill, on our only day with no hills. It just wasn't fair. I began to drop behind, a pattern that would repeat itself not just today, but for the rest of the week too.

Tour de Rêves Day Two Coulon Marais Poitevin French Village Diaries
Steak with blue cheese sauce and garlic potatoes

Food was to be my salvation today. The P'tit Bouchon PMU bar in Beauvoir-sur-Niort comes highly recommended, especially their beef with blue cheese dressing and garlic potatoes. It was just what tired and damp cyclists needed after 42km of hard work. Sarah and I opted to skip dessert as there was only 12km to cycle until the next stop in Frontenay-Rohan-Rohan where I knew there was a patisserie waiting.

Tour de Rêves Day Two Coulon Marais Poitevin French Village Diaries
The delicious Frontenaysian gateau

What I didn’t know, but do now, is that they make a local speciality called the Frontenaysian; a thick buttery biscuity cake with a strawberry filling that was delicious and turned out to be a lifesaver. I honestly don’t think I would have made the next 15km to Arçais without the sugar hit from the Frontenaysian as we hit a real low point; a four kilometres stretch where the wind howled around us as we battled into it, cycling slightly uphill on a gravelled and potholed track. Cyclists should never ignore a patisserie stop for this very reason. We all agreed the concentration required navigating the uneven surface, along with the effort of cycling into the wind and the constant jolting and jarring of our bodies from the gravel was exhausting and about as far from fun as it was possible to be. We did however feel bonded as a team from this shared experience. Thankfully there was a bar in Arçais and a few friendly faces (Sarah’s Mum and Dad) that helped to raise our spirits before we set off to the campsite just outside Coulon.

Tour de Rêves Day Two Coulon Marais Poitevin French Village Diaries
Arriving at Camping La Venise Verte, Marais Poitevin

One of the things Sarah and I had agreed on a year before, when first planning this challenge, was no camping. We decided after a day on a bike a good bed was a must have, however, we were kindly offered a Ready to Camp tent for the night at Camping La Venise Verte, so we camped! 

Tour de Rêves Day Two Coulon Marais Poitevin French Village Diaries
Our Ready to Camp tent at Camping La Venise Verte

The tent came equipped with cooking facilities and bedding and I have to admit I slept very well in our cosy little sleeping pod. The campsite shower and toilet blocks were modern and clean, although having to select the quantity of toilet paper you needed before entering the loo gave us plenty to giggle about and started a trend of toilet humour that was to stay around all week.

Tour de Rêves Day Two Coulon Marais Poitevin French Village Diaries
Team selfie in Coulon, Marais Poitevin

Dinner was a delicious pizza in Coulon, only a five kilometre round trip on foot, after a 79km bike ride – oh yes, I think we deserved that pizza.

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