Past Ride

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Sat Sep 7th 2019
D-Day 75 Tour Day 1 3*
Richard Pethybridge
Start Time:
9:00 am
Start Location:
Ouistreham, France
The ferry arrives in Ouistreham at 0645, which is early enough for the sun still to be below the horizon, so lights are essential. We will take breakfast on the ferry before disembarkation, as we will need to get going once we are off the boat.
The route heads what along the coast, starting along Sword Beach, before passing Juno and Gold and finishing up at Omaha. Along the way we will pause at Arromanches, the gun battery at Longues-sur-Mer, Port-en-Bessin (for coffee), and the US cemetery at Colleville (think Saving Private Ryan). We will then dip inland a bit en route to Pointe du Hoc, and then aim for lunch in Grandcamp-Maisy. After lunch we will head inland to the German cemetery at La Cambe, before heading east again through the Bocage country to our hotel in Bayeux. The recommended hotel is La Campanile. It is a chain type of hotel not dissimilar to a Travel Lodge. No frills but well priced - I have stayed there many times and the breakfast is good. We will aim to take a stroll into Bayeux itself for an evening meal together.

Total distance is 68 miles, with 2250ft of climbing. For Normandy trip veterans that is about 10 miles less than St Malo to Vire, and about 600ft less climbing.
Well, what great day this turned out to be. A very early start after disembarking at Ouistreham found us riding along the edge of Sword Beach just as the sun was rising spectacularly behind some patchy cloud. A stiff northerly breeze accompanied us as we rode westwards passing Juno Beach and then Gold Beach en route to the first stop at Arromanches. We did pause briefly at the site of the new British D-Day memorial, but as a building site up a steep hill decided the extra effort to see it at this time wasn't worth it. From the cliffs above Arromanches we admired the remains of Mulberry B harbour, also know as Port Winston, before swooping down and through the town past the D-Day museum.
Some very quiet roads followed as we made our way to Longues Battery, site of four German Kriegsmarine guns, before the coffee stop at Port-en-Bessin. Pain-au-chocolat and café crème were the backdrop for the thrilling story of 47 Commando's assault on this strong point, after which a very steep cobbled hill made everyone glad we were not having to fight our way up it against enemy fire.
Next stop was the American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, made famous by "Saving Private Ryan". A spectacular site, and very American, with superb views down to Omaha Beach. After a pause for remembrance we cycled on along the beach to the memorial to the 29th US Infantry, before enjoying a well-earned lunch at a café overlooking the beach.
Post lunch, and after another hill, we visited Pointe-du-Hoc, a rocky promontory assaulted by American Rangers against seemingly impossible odds. The memorial at the bunker gives prime views to both Omaha and Utah Beaches, and shows what a vital site this was to capture.
Having taken lunch early we missed out Grandcamp Maisy and headed to the German Cemetery at La Cambe. This was in major contrast to the American equivalent, and even in the sunshine it had a sombreness very different to the brightness of Collevile.
After La Cambe it was time to turn back eastwards and head of Bayeux and our hotel. The route followed some lovely roads in the quiet Norman countryside, with generally rolling but often tiring hills to keep us interested. Arrival at the hotel was very welcome, and was achieved with plenty of time to relax and recover before going into ton for dinner. We enjoyed a super meal at 'Le Domesday' restaurant, right next to the cathedral, accompanied by a number of appropriate alcoholic beverages. Everyone slept very well thereafter.
111.00 km (68.97 mi)
Ride Details:
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Start Locations
Wantage Market Place
Old Mill Hall, Grove
1* - Suitable for irregular, social, beginner or family riders, pace will match the slower riders. Not hilly or long. Expect rides up to 3 hours. Gentle exercise.
2* - Suitable for regular riders who prefer to cover some distance but at a more relaxed pace. Likely to be half-day rides. Solid exercise.
3* - Suitable for experienced riders, may be hilly, long, quick, or any combination! Likely to be half or full-day rides. Challenging exercise.
4* - Suitable for athletic riders who can ride safely above the 3* standard. Quick rides for the fit.
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