Day 3: Tuesday. Dieppe to Rouen

64.8km, av. 14.1km/hr, max 39.4km/hr.
Calories: 659, CO2 offset: 9.71kg, time: 4hr 34mins.

So, this is the day it rains, and then rains some more. And then, just for luck, a little bit more. It starts just before we set off which at least means this time we’re all prepared for it: waterproof trousers, ponchos and a few plastic bags around shoes.

It’s kind of a shame, as the route itself is pretty lush. It follows the D3 pretty much all the way, which winds its way alongside La Scie river for a good part, through farmland and sleepy French towns and villages.

The ride isn’t hugely challenging either for navigation or hills, although at the one point where we do take a wrong turn (after lunch) we are rewarded with the sight of a small flock of flamingos in the back garden of a chateaux, presumably owned by a brilliantly eccentric aristocrat.

Towards the end, there’s a nice descent followed by a steep rise through quiet woods and at this point the rain finally begins to ease off. We celebrate / reward ourselves by eating Most Of The Snacks.

By the time we hit the long downhill into Rouen we’re rewarded with a spectacular mixture of sunshine and rain. The hostel which is our accommodation for the night is a great place with comfortable and super-well designed beds (loads of cubby holes!), hot showers and bats flying past outside. Dinner is expertly made by Steve and Skippy and somehow they manage to satisfy the hunger of more than 120 hungry cyclists. There are photos hung on the wall of a nearby active and ongoing protest against a new runway. We’re among friends here.

There’s a crazy, moving moment when the last bunch of riders arrive at the hostel, it must be past 7pm. Everyone rushes out to meet them and suddenly there are whistles, applause, cheering and spontaneous chanting of ‘Justice, climatique’. This is the scene:

If I hadn’t already, I’m starting to realise that there’s something really special about this group of people.

In the evening we break into different groups for navigation, ‘spokes’ people and craft meetings, and we also have a chat about the Climate Games and how we might get involved.

There’s also beer and cider from the local off-license. I have activist guilt for accepting a plastic bag to carry it home in – the shop is all of 5 minutes walk away. I tell myself another plastic bag will be useful to keep things dry…

It’s a not particularly early night but I think everyone sleeps really soundly, again. Clearly the secret to sleeping well is to cycle loads!

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