Bike Bayeux was a charity cycle ride organised by the Rotary Club of Poundbury starting in Poundbury and then on to Cherbourg where the ride started – or should have! The plan was to ride through the beautiful Normandy countryside to Bayeux; Dorchester’s twin town. Although a charity event in aid of the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, it was a ride for people wanting to take a leisurely time through the wonderful countryside, with the charm of the French buildings, and small villages on the way.
The event started on Thursday 20th June at 4pm with a gathering of the participants at the Café on the Green (Poundbury), with the bike riders being wished a good experience before going to the Ferry very early Friday (21st June). The ride started at Cherbourg and returned via Caen to Portsmouth. The route was planned to be mainly on country roads with little traffic.
They were seen off by the Mayor of Dorchester, Cllr. Richard Biggs, and the adventurer Stephen Howard, himself just back from running the Namib desert, and riding to Paris from London a couple of days later.
However, even the best paid plans have events that are outside the control of the organisers. The bikes were all collected in a hired van which was planned to travel with the riders on foot onto the ferry so that when everyone arrived in Cherbourg, they took their bikes and set off. The luggage stayed with the van to meet up at the hotel later in the day.
When everyone was at the ferry waiting to board, there was no sign of the van, and the driver (a Poundbury Rotarian, accompanied by another member acting as one of the marshals. The diver contacted the Rotary members traveling with the riders and the van (virtually new) had engine failure – something that could not have been dealt with at five in the morning.
As always, Rotarians are ever resourceful. And the riders and Rotary members boarded the ferry, and awaited arriving and working on plan B. Fortunately, another Club member was meeting the riders at the ferry port and had arranged to hire all the bikes they could find, but only two were available. A small group opted to go on an eight mile walk to the town they were planned to stay in, St Mere Eglise. And a few opted for a ride to the hotel and transport was available thanks to Rotarians who took cars and were already on site.
Everyone arrived at the intermediate hotel, about halfway to Bayeux, and enjoyed a good diner and exchange stories of their own experiences. Although not ideal, it was the best that could be done, and no-one complained. Meanwhile, back in England, the hire company had produced a replacement van, and the driver took the bikes to Portsmouth and caught the overnight ferry, and everyone was re-united with their trusty bikes and were able to take their planned course to Bayeux.
As one of the participants put it after the event, and safely back home in the UK:
“Could you please pass on my thanks to all those involved in organising the ride to Bayeux. Despite the problem at the start I thoroughly enjoyed the whole weekend. A slight limp was my souvenir to take home. I hope the scars of my crash remain for a long time to go along with the memories”
Apparently, he had a bit of a tumble, but just a scratch, hardly life threatening, but despite that he enjoyed the whole experience and, like most of the others, can’t wait for next year’s ride.
Having arrived in Bayeux after a great ride and scenery, everyone went to meet the Mayor of Bayeux for a civic reception, thus completing the link between Dorchester’s send off by the Mayor, to the Mayor of Bayeux, Patrick Gamont seen above with Member Keith Taylor and rider Andrew Grassby.
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Members of Dorchester Poundbury Rotary Club enjoyed a super breakfast before visiting the place that will become Gully's Place in the Children's Ward. A cheque from monies raised at the recent charter party was then presented.more