Due to the fact that it would appear as though I like blowing smoke up my own ass, true to form I feel compelled to write about our recent cycling trip on the continent, namely the D-day Landing beeches in Normandy France.

On Saturday, 23rd April earlier this year myself, Ian and Rhys accompanied by 2 cycling friends from Market Drayton in Shropshire, Ste Lee and Paul Walker left Birmingham at stupid o-clock, heading South to pick up the Eurostar from Folkestone to Calais.

I don’t know about any of you but, I have very mixed feelings relating to that particular crossing…..

The very last time I took this crossing was during August of 2009, when my best friend Simon and I took a vacation, a vacation that we’d taken many times before across to Germany to ride The Nürburgring.

The rest shall we say is history….

Anyway, the 23rd April we headed across to France for a very different reason, still involving wheels but, not quite as fast, actually who am I trying to kid? Nowhere near as fast.

This wasn’t one of our longer rides but, it was still quite breath-taking and, my god you could almost feel the history as we cycled along what is now a beautiful coast. 

Hears a bit of a history lesson to get you in the mood: –

World War II: D-Day, The Invasion of Normandy

The D-Day operation of June 6, 1944 brought together the land, air and sea forces of the allied armies in what became known as the largest invasion force in human history. The operation, given the codename OVERLORD, delivered five naval assault divisions to the beaches of Normandy, France. The beaches were given the code names UTAH, OMAHA, GOLD, JUNO and SWORD. The invasion force included 7,000 ships and landing craft manned by over 195,000 naval personnel from eight allied countries. Almost 133,000 troops from England, Canada and the United States landed on D-Day. Casualties from the three countries during the landing numbered 10,300. By June 30th, over 850,000 men, 148,000 vehicles, and 570,000 tons of supplies had landed on the Normandy shores. Fighting by the brave soldiers, sailors and airmen of the allied forces western front, and Russian forces on the eastern front, led to the defeat of German Nazi forces. On May 7, 1945, German General Alfred Jodl signed an unconditional surrender at Reims, France.

It’s very difficult to see many things as I was riding along on my recumbent trike, mainly due to the fact that your so close to the floor but, you still have plenty to see with abandoned army vehicles and, bunkers along the coast.

Walls peppered with bullet holes…

The remanence of old buildings that had been struck by a bomb…

Tanks that had been left along the roadside…

Then there was the atmosphere, my god the atmosphere, I’ve been to some eery places over the years but, absolutely nothing compares to this place.

You could almost feel the 850,000 troops as they stormed the beeches, causing complete carnage to the now beautiful coastline.

For me personally the trips that we do, are never really about taking in the scenery, its about achieving the goal of cycling whatever the distance is from A to B in the shortest possible time.

However, you can’t help but be blown away with the D-day landing coast, please excuse the pun…    

This trip was never really about cycling lots of miles, it was more about taking in the scenery and, spending time with some great friends, eating amazing food and, drinking copious amounts of alcohol.

It seems such a long time since I’ve been able to sit outside eating just the best fresh food, drinking lots of red wine with great friends, largely down to the fact that we’ve been in and out of lockdown.

I’ve mentioned the food being amazing, one person who wouldn’t really know is Ian who must have eaten the equivalent of a dustbin full of muscles during our time away.

Whereas at least the rest of us did try a bit of variety with local quinzaine…. 

Whilst the food in France is quite special, the red wine is also. 

Now bearing in mind I hardly ever drink alcohol these days, also the fact that it was pretty warm whilst we was away.

On one particular night Paul and I must have sank a bottle of red wine each plus, we’d already had a large glass before we ordered dinner, I was completely inebriated to the point where I couldn’t drive the chair in a straight line therefore, Ian took over the control to get me back without crashing.     

One of the best nights, although the accommodation was a bit pikey, was when we stayed in a static caravan.

It was probably one of the only nights that I actually had a decent night’s sleep because, I had the luxury of sleeping in a double bed, not the ironing board that I’d become accustomed to although I have absolutely no idea how they got it in the caravan, let alone the room that it was in.

This was quite possibly the ONLY night where Ian didn’t sit down to a bucket full of muscles.

Instead we took a trip to the local super market to buy lots of BBQ food as the caravan came with its own BBQ and, obviously lots of wine.      

A highlight for me was probably arriving at Monte St Michael, I was last their at the age of 15 years to watch the first stage of The Tour de France, the prologue.

I went there camping for the first five days of the Tour with a friend of mine from the cycling club called Steven Cavil and his father, the atmosphere at the tour was electric.  

We’d reached Monte St Michel and, that was the end of our holiday, with the exception of the completely exhausting dive home.