A sombre start on the Somme battlefields but then sunshine...
By Andrew Croker | Wednesday, February 24, 2010 6.52pm
Lawrence, Rafa Ibanez and Major Sally Orange lay a wreath at the Lutyens Memorial, Thiepval Andrew Croker
Wednesday 24th February. Albert - Montreuil. 96km. Done: 1513 km. To go: 1375km. Weather: Good. Sunny even.
We started the day at Thiepval, the Lutyens memorial to the 72,000 British and South African officers and men who died in the Somme sector and have no known grave. It sits atop a hill that was fiercely fought for throughout the great war, with over 62,000 allies lost on the very first day. Lawrence and Rafa Ibanez laid a wreath with Major Sally Orange, of the RAMC, who is with us on the trip. Lawrence read Binyon's poem the Fallen (.....the going down of the sun). It is impossible to be anywhere among those battlefields and not be moved.
It then magically stopped raining and we rode an uneventful 90 odd km to Montreuil. Bruce from Prologue and Lee Dixon kindly took my group - and had eleven punctures. I won the lottery with just one in the rain yesterday.
Early on we dropped Harlequins Chairman Malcolm Wall. He got a second wind and decided to chase and get back on. On he drove for an hour. A huge effort, but sadly in completely the wrong direction. The taxi fare back to the course was 70euros.
Calais, le Tunnel, England tomorrow. Can't wait. We are over half way in 12 days on the bike. 17 to go.
Major Sally Orange is, by the way, in the Guinness Book of Records for the fastest London Marathon time dressed as a fruit. Guess which?
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