Eleven club members braved a day of heavy downpours on the Saturday to visit the French-Belgian border and World War I sites in Flanders. Luckily the weather steadily improved and we finished in sunshine on Monday at Dunkirk.
We came together (bar one accident) at the Dover ferry on Saturday morning. Three members had stayed overnight in Dover, one having cycled the idyllic NCN16 in blazing sun. The others caught early trains from London. The heavens opened at Dunkirk and our ride to our hotel at Bailleul was soggy, buoyed by coffee and crepes at Cassel.
On Sunday the weather failed to live up to the BBC's forebodings and it got steadily brighter. We crossed into Belgium where we were told in no uncertain terms not to speak French. We found one member's great-uncle in a war cemetery then continued to Ieper (definitely NOT Ypres!!) for a superb lunch that we had ordered in advance. After visiting the Menin Gate, most of us went to Tyne Cot, the single largest war cemetery near the site of Passendale. It was sobering to see how much younger than us most of the fallen were.
Sunday was a lovely day for another ride through the undulating Flemish countryside on the French side of the border. This time we went through Bergues where we had lunch outside in the sun and saw the ruins of the great crusading monastery of St Winoc. Our ride to Dunkirk ended with a long and difficult ride to the ferry but we all made it safely.
Many thanks to Gerard for organising a great weekend.