Day 2 – Mechincal Problems… Arghhh

I had a terrible first night’s sleep in Calais, I just could not relax thinking of the previous day’s events and the heat was disturbing me all night. My head was spinning but fortunately my legs were feeling pretty good considering what I had been through the previous day with muscle cramps and spasms.

It soon became a bit of a ritual every evening on the day before getting everything ready, such as glucose and electrolyte drinks, glucose snacks, medication etc etc.

I noticed that the Garmin app on my phone had updated and I just knew that would be trouble. I had been using Garmin livetrak to let people know where I was and how I was doing during the route. It worked fine day one but since the update it later failed, surprise surprise.

I had breakfast, or should I say what I could manage, it was hot and I did not feel hungry so I tried to get a couple of croissants down me, but it was difficult I must say, I then tried some fruit salad to no avail.

I did speak to a couple of ladies during breakfast as one was wearing a Bluebell wood cycling shirt and that was local to me. The lady was from Barnsley and she asked how I got on yesterday, I told her, and both ladies said I needed some salt tablets and not just water. I had only got the powder but could not carry it around, so they kindly gave me some for the ride today.

Off we went, it was already hitting 25 degrees at 7:30 and off we set. It was a nice steady ride to be fair out of Calais. I soon caught up with a little cycling group of 4 (I mentioned this group on the last post) and I asked politely if I could ride with them. They were moderately paced on the flat and steady on the hills and that suited me just fine. I hit the first climb of the day, it was not steep but long. I don’t mind these as once you get your rhythm you can keep plodding. I got to the top and then carried on for a few miles. I noticed before hitting the next climb my right foot was not keeping in the pedal as my cleat was not secure. I called to the others to carry on whilst I stopped to take a look. At that point it was obvious that my cleat was broken and probably due to the fact I had to walk up the last hill in Dover due to my severe cramp attack that I had.


I continued with my foot constantly coming away from the pedal on every single upstroke and then wobbling on the down stoke. In the end I cycled around 20 miles to the next water stop with one foot.

I got to the water stop and spoke to the Global mechanic who said I could not continue like that. They had no cleats and many others had the same problem. He decided to take me to the next town to see if we could get some cleats, we called in several shops who only had a different brand in stock (unfortunately the brand of the cleat only works with the same brand as the pedal). In the end to cut a story short I ended up riding in the van to Arras and missed out on 40 miles of cycling. I was far from happy about this and decided after the event I would do another 40 miles on French roads before returning to blighty.

The next challenge was to find some cleats in the city of Arras, I looked on-line and noticed they had a Decathlon in the city. I went to reception in the hotel and asked about walking to Decathlon, they said it would take around 30 minutes, not far but it had just hit 36 degrees in the afternoon sun. So, I asked them to get me a taxi. The taxi arrived and thank goodness it was air-conditioned, and the driver could not speak any English, but I managed enough to have a general conversation about Arras and found his daughter lived in Birmingham! We arrived and in I went, panic set in when I could not find them, everything seemed geared towards mountain biking to be fair. I ended up asking in broken French pointing to my feet followed by the word Velo. He showed me road racing section and true to his word they had cleats. Once again, my heart stopped no Shimano cleats on the shelves. I asked again and determined that Shimano cleats where order only. Ummm, but my new Decathlon French friend showed me some Look cleats together with pedals. Phewww complete relief, 40 Euros lighter but at least I knew I would be back on Charlie in the morning for day 3.

Back to the hotel, 25 euro lighter thanks to the taxi trip. During the trip the French taxis driver was very helpful showing me the sights of Arras like the police station, Marie office and then showing me facebook on his mobile phone showing me his family in Birmingham !

I got to Charlie and there were a couple of guys having a pint of liquid amber, it looked good in the 36 degrees of heat, but I promised I would not touch a drop until my challenge was complete. They helped me change my pedals, but I could not tighten them up as I did not have a 8mm allen key. But not to worry as the next morning I knew the mechanics would be here to save me yet again.  This ultimately could have started the next chain of disastrous events who knows!



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