16 Sep
Day 4

Guigenville to Sens

57 miles

10.4 mph and 5 hours 28 mins cycling

Fastest speed Phil again at 30.6mph

Through loads of small villages and 2 big towns

Visits to 1 coffee shop, 1 Tabac and 1 bike shop!

7 barking dogs

2 very friendly cats - forgot to mention cats on my animal collection yesterday

In comparison to the blandness of yesterday, today has been the complete opposite with such a variety of charming countryside and stunning cities right from the offset.

Leaving our comfortable albeit functional B and B in good time this morning, we were immediately on beautiful country lanes, apples and pears in orchards around us, smaller fields and beautiful woodland. In fact, we have cycled through mostly woody lanes and roads today, verges covered in the ruts of the wild BOAR - I am so cross about yesterday’s typo (blaming it on tiredness) - kept me awake in the early hours - of course there was no dead wild bore in the ditch - it was a BOAR, talking of which, the hunting season is in full swing here. Many roads had those low hides ready for the hunters this evening or tomorrow morning - watch out you boars - the hunter is about.

Spot the bikes!

After very pleasant cycling conditions, with the odd climb, we descended into Fontainebleau for our first pit stop after 18 miles. Such an assault on the eyes as we came round the corner of this pretty but nondescript street, smack into the palace. What an impact - as Phil said, such decadence in size and beauty, there is no wonder there was a revolution. A coffee in the square, resulted in an uplifting interlude with a young Scottish couple, Marcus and Emma, who are staying in the area whilst boulder climbing - apparently the ultimate and purest form of climbing and in the middle of the woods around Fontainebleau there are natural boulders, a leftover from the Ice Age and it is an international centre for this sport. Brave young couple, but also stimulating conversation and we wish you both all the best with your 10 days climbing and every success in the future.

Off again through wooded roads and lanes and tiny old villages, where we had our left over pizza from last night’s takeaway sitting on a wall in the sunshine - a great 30 mile refuel. We have crossed rivers and railways, gone over and under motorways and had the most varied days cycling so far. Laterly passing fields of maize and dead sunflowers, awaiting harvest.

Our final destination is a small village on the far side of the city of Sens, where tonight we have feasted on a typical 5 course French meal, even though just staying in a very modest 2 star Logis. The French really know how to feed you. 

Other points of interest I think you should be aware of include:

Route Planning

Phil is not only an exceptional doctor but he has planned this whole route as well as booking all the accommodation - my name for him is HOO - Head of Operations - I on the other hand have other roles like head of PR and  marketing, catering and quite often housekeeping (washing in other words - although HOO is great at the towel mangle technique particularly when the housekeeper has a sore hand - technique to be explained at another time). As route planner, HOO is in charge of the maps - we are very old fashioned and use only road maps which are cut up and placed in the map holder at the front of HOO’s bike bag. Now we do have to stop quite often to look at said map but there is also much excitement when we have to progress on to a new map - some days we may have one change and some days 2 - I will add this to tomorrow’s stats - but just so you know today was a 2 map day! Now what all this fantastic navigation means for me is that every now and then I need to listen intently to HOO’s recounts of the next few steps, try to remember the D126 after next crossroads for example or instead - which I am particularly good at - just follow along behind, pedalling that bike, soaking up the scenery and really being blissfully unaware whether we are going the right way or not. I also have to take extra special care not to meet with the pavement at 12 mph. Joking apart, Phil’s navigation is astounding and makes my journey very much simpler and gives me the chance just to be, absorbing all there is around me - a privilege.

The changing of the map and the looking at the map.

The Queen

In all our encounters so far no-one has mentioned the Queen. We have been wearing our arm bands each day and will do so as a sign of respect until the time of mourning is over, but are thinking of you all at home and are sorry to be away at this time of national loss.

Thank yous

I have been meaning to mention some thank yous for people behind the scenes - Hoops in Petersfield for servicing the bikes which continue to run smoothly - more to add to this in a mo, TEC, also in Petersfield who have printed our shirts with our link and Maddy’s Mark information and they have so far survived the basic washing methods and towel mangle experience and finally all you amazing family, friends and work colleagues out there who have been donating, supporting and encouraging us on our way. We are loving your comments and THANK YOU.

One more token of gratitude goes to the cycle shop we passed this evening on our way out of Sens. Phil’s pedal has been making an odd clicking since yesterday, so we popped in and came out 15 minutes later with new pedals in situ, put on by the incredibly helpful and bilingual assistant - see photo!

Phil would also like to add to the stats that we passed an airfield today! Much excitement from one of our 2 person touring party.

Oh my, bed is calling. We are both relieved to have had such a great day’s cycling for Day 4, bodies still coping although a little achy - a good night’s sleep will sort that.

More tomorrow and much love to you all P and J XX

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