First bike ride of the year

Originally posted at 1:00 am, March 24th 2011.

Yesterday I pulled my bike out from the back of the garage and went for a ride in the sunshine. As it was my first ride this year I didn’t go very far, and I certainly didn’t try to go very fast.

The village we live in really is a perfect place to have a bike. If you just want a gentle ride there are miles of country roads and farm tracks that enable you to get from here to almost any other place you want to go in the area without ever having to go on a busy road. At worst you might have to cross one.

Stick to the seaward side of our village and of the D940 coast road, and you’ll always be riding on the flat, but if you want a bit more exercise, or a change of scenery, head East and you’re very soon going uphill. The further you go the more energetic your ride will become. Not for nothing do they call the region inland from here “The Seven Valleys”. Between the valleys are steep hills – thankfully the climbs are not too long and you don’t have to be Greg Armstrong or Alberto Contador to get up them. The reward for your effort will be not just a pleasant ride through beautiful countryside, but that, as everything to the East is higher than the flat coastal strip, your ride back home will be almost all downhill!

I took the farm lanes that run close to the River Authie estuary and soon came to the tiny harbour of La Madelon. The boats there all look as though they’ve had no use since last year. They need a bit of a clean-up and some maintenance, but no doubt some proud owners will be along soon to scrub, sand and varnish where necessary before taking their boats out for a few hours of coastal sailing.

Left high and dry by one of the highest tides of the year

Some of the highest tides of the year always occur in March, but it was still a bit of a surprise to find one yacht high and dry on the grass several yards from the river. It looked as if it might have broken free from its mooring and drifted ashore on an exceptionally high tide. One thing’s certain, it’ll be a long, long wait for another tide high enough to float it off. I expect they’ll have to come and get it with a crane and a lorry.

The restaurant at La Madelon, which has developed quite a reputation over the last 4 or 5 years and is highly regarded in French dining guides, is offering a lunch menu at around 13 euros. A very small price to pay for carefully prepared food in a superb setting. Unfortunately I was there on a Wednesday – their weekly closing day.

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