In 2016 with a group of 17 we altered the route so we could find hotels to suit the larger group, doing a four day trip via Newhaven, Gournay-en-Bray and Villennes-sur-Seine.
Alan, Sue and myself (who all did the 2015 trip) didn’t want to cycle the UK leg so we met the group in Newhaven. Us three also stayed in Lalandelle again, with the main group staying in Gournay-en-Bray.
The good bits:
Day 2 was a good day and we found a cafe in Dieppe which was open. Dieppe to Gournay is a lovely route.
Day 3 was a good day’s ride, and for Alan/Sue/me staying in Lalandelle meant we not only had a great breakfast but we had a lovely lie-in, as the main group had to cycle 20km to us first.
Day 4 was a little shorter.
The not-so-good bits:
Day 1, the main group left far too late from the London Eye and by 2pm had done less than 25% of the route, consequently they arrived in Newhaven quite late.
Night 1 for Alan/Sue/me wasn’t great as we only joined the ride late on and couldn’t book a cabin. Instead I took airbeds which I could throw away, but only one worked properly. Again, very little sleep.
Day 2, whilst finding the cafe in Dieppe was nice it took ages out of our time, meaning a far later finish.
Day 3’s final hill up to the Campanile in Villenes-sur-Seine was a killer for most of the group.
Day 4, we should have left far earlier. It was disappointing to see find the bottom of the Eiffel Tower closed off due to security post November 2016’s attacks, so we couldn’t finish where we wanted to.
Personally I was quite frustrated that some of the group hadn’t read the loose plan for stops/meals etc, and when we were almost ready to leave a stop somebody would inevitably delay us by eating a meal, or deciding to go to the loo when everyone else had done that 20 minutes beforehand. For the future rides I made the loose plan more official and made sure people knew to stick to us.
Also, many had sad they would navigate and in the end it came down to four of us, which was unfair on us, bearing in mind the group split and you needed people at the front and back. It was difficult.