Yesterday night I was a bit afraid of not being able to recover, I did a number of steep hills (probably more than 10) and overall I had the impression of having done intervals… However, today I was feeling very well and I managed to cycle easily for the all day.
The route starts flat and follows a canal for nearly 20 km .
Then it starts going up and down very gently in the middle of North French countryside, until km 38, where I climbed to the mill of Watten. This was steep (10-15%) but expected. Great views from the top.
The road then rolls up and down until km 60, where it climbs to Cassel: 170 m over less than 2 km, so approx avg 10% gradient with a couple of steeper parts and some pave’ at the end. The town is definitely worth a visit (lots of bicycles and motorbikes around).
As I said, the last part of the ascent and 1.5 km of descent were on pave’. I always thought that I could easily cycle on pave’: I’m Italian and we have plenty of roads that are made with cobbles and this is where I learned to cycle. Well, before today I had no idea of what French pave’ is: it breaks everything when you cycle uphill, your bike, bones, joints and muscles. And it is even worse downhill. The cobbles are round, semi spherical, and there is a big gap between them for your wheel to get trapped. I cannot even think how you could race on this stuff, maybe under the rain…
After Cassel and until km 80 the road keeps going gently up and down. I stopped in Bailleul for lunch and I found signs of the recent Tour de France stage to Lille.
After this, the road flattens and I managed to keep 25 km/h avg for a good hour and a half. I then crossed Lille with a few traffic lights and then in the last 20 km there was rain, quite strong in the end. I kind of liked it, after hitting 33 C in some villages. Luckily no wind today.
Overall, 132 km I 6h20min taking things very easy. This is the route, if you are curious: