For several years now a number of people from the cycling group Rye Wheelers have travelled to Ardres, south of Calais, to take part in the sportive “Le Carre de Vallees” organised by their sister club “Amis Cyclos de L’Ardresis”. It suits all participants and has family friendly routes and a range of others up to a very testing 140K route. As well as a sporting week-end it is a chance for members of both clubs to socialise with each other.
On Saturday May 7 several of the Wheelers set off from Rye. Paul Simpson organized the trip and was kind enough to take my friend Margaret and I in his car with our bikes fastened safely on his car roof. On the way to Dover we met up with the other members of the Wheelers who were joining us for the Sunday participation in Le Carre de Vallees. Every year the French sister club arrange a day at a beautiful lake in Ardres and signpost different routes with 140km, 100km, 60km and 25km distances. Individuals chose their preferences and while it is not a race everyone tries to do the best time possible. Many of the French cyclists and all the nine male Wheelers did the 100km while Margaret and myself chose the 25km and experienced the beautiful country side riding along a canal and through several villages. We found a cafe and decided to stop, sat in the sun and chatted to the French people in the bar.
Suddenly several American jeeps passed us and a brass band started playing so we were of course curious and found the church where they were celebrating the liberation from Nazi Germany. The act of military surrender by Nazi Germany was signed on May 7 in Reims, France and May 8 in Berlin, Germany. So the end of WWII on May 8 was dedicated as a day of remembrance and reconciliation. It was very moving.
We made our way back to the lake mingling with the French lycra clad cyclists waiting for our group to return. We could not have asked for a more beautiful day and place to sit around, have a glass of wine and chatter until it was time to get our things together and make the 6:50pm shuttle back to Dover.
I must just go back to our Saturday arrival at the designated hotel for the 11 Wheelers. Calamity, no rooms were booked. Somehow, between the accommodation reservation site Booking.com and the hotel there was obviously a misunderstanding. The manager of the hotel said she had three double rooms and could add a single bed in each room which meant the nine guys had to share three to a room. She was also kind enough to phone around and with great difficulty was able to find one double room in another hotel which Margaret and I bagged for ourselves. There were a few jokes but at least we got a bed each though it was touch and go. To make up for it we had a lovely meal in the hotel all together, and a free breakfast Sunday morning before making our way to Ardres, Le Carre de Vallees.
A great weekend, thank you Paul.
Photos: Heidi Foster