Stage 4: Cherbourg to Saint Lo, 70 miles

4th July 2016.



This one will be short, and not so sweet. A reoccurring theme for this trip was mistakes – but you’ve got to make them to learn from them. Biggest thing I’ve learnt so far? Don’t get hammered when you’ve got a 120 mile stage of the Tour de France to ride the next day…


Needless to say, when I woke up at midday with a banging head and trying to clutch at the tatters of memory from the night before, the plan was swiftly abandoned. A couple of hours later after demolishing some brioche for breakfast, googling a more direct route to Saint-Lo on the computer, phoning the local police and calling Jason for some adulting advice I was on my wobbly way again.


It was a crazy hot day – or was it the beer sweats – and without a phone or Garmin map to check it took me for EVER to get out of Cherbourg onto the right route. I ended up in Le Glacier trying to find the Tour de Manche route which suddenly disappeared and I finally gave up and found a Decathlon where I could buy a local map, using up five of my precious Euros. So worthwhile though, as at last I could plot a decent route to follow and start to make proper progress heading South.

I cannot describe how horrendous I felt. The hangover and the sleep deprivation took its toll on my legs and I was averaging something silly like 10mph. I tried really hard to not despair about the situation but rather to think logically about a plan of action for booking accommodation, getting a camera and budgeting for food.

It was really late by the time I got into Saint-Lo. Thankfully I’d found some company for 10 or 15 miles in Jean-Francois from Carentan so the bike-speak in French was quite entertaining to say the least! Nearly in Saint-Lo, I stopped in Saint Jean de Daye where I had some of the most amazing bike food – a pot of local fresh rice pudding and another refreshing peach. I was so so relieved to descend down into the beautiful town, covered in signs, bikes and bunting and bikes as a key stage town in the TDF. I made my way to the centre square and asked some locals for directions to my AirBnB. I was lucky enough to bump into Alan, an American cyclist living and studying for his theology PhD in Birmingham, also over for the Tour and staying in the same place. Alan was fantastic, helping me sort myself out, upload my ride (top priority) and even suggested the ‘Kebabby’ down the road for dinner. We swapped stories of our trips so far, and Alan gave me loads of advice on where to head in Avranches and West Normandy. Absolutely bushed, I turned in ready for a better day tomorrow, heading on in search of Brittany.


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