On the night of the 8th September Greg, Simon, Chris and I took the over night ferry to Caen for this year’s mountain biking road trip, back to Suisse Normande.
Day 1, Friday 9th September, Grimbosq.
After a hearty breakfast we rolled of the ferry and we decided to head straight to the house where we stay in Le Billot to drop of our non-riding kit and grab a decent cup of coffee. As its day one we head to Grimbosq forest for a fun day of riding and to ease ourselves in to it.
Grimbosq forest is at the most northern point of Suisse Normade with the closest major town being Thury-Harcourt just south to it. We unload the van and head of in to the forest; it is at this point Simon has the first crash of the tour riding on something not even remotely gnarly! We ride to the trail head and there are loads French school children everywhere all on their bikes, this is our kind off school!
On the first singletrack run down Greg takes the lead with me tucking in behind, we have both forward and rear facing cameras running, or at least we think we did…. We cross over the gully to ride the top single track with a fast run then a 2nd filming run ending by dropping down to the old train bridge for photo’s and to take in the scenery.
From here we pick up the RED route 7 and follow it on the west side of the Orne with a couple of lovely decants and not so lovely climbs. We cross back over the river at Goupillieres and we stop on the bridge, I notice a poppy wreath on the bridge so I stop to read the plaque. It reads, “In memory of Ernie Blincow and his companions who liberated this bridge on 8th August 1944”, I love finding things like this and then looking up the story behind it, read about Ernie Blincow here.
|click to link|
Each trip we like to do a big ride, here we don’t follow just one route, but we link several together and ride between to major towns. We have actually done the Thury-Harcout to Clecy and back to Thury before, but it’s a great ride and I pretty much do it map free.
Starting in Thury-Harcout we park under the trees by the Ruine Du Chateau De Thury-Harcourt and join RED 4 heading south, this starts with a ride through town and a gentle climb to get some elevation. As you drop back down in to the next valley you have the choice of Black 11 or Red 10, Greg was in the lead and completely missed the black so RED 10 it was. Still a complete killer of a climb and it keeps going to you are back on top of the gorge, from here it’s a fast, flat-ish track all the way to the paraglider launch area. We stop for some photo’s and Greg has to exercise some demons and jump of the raised area and this time he even stays on!
In the afternoon we have a gentle start following GREEN 17. We bump in to a couple of French kids whom tell us about a 'barrage' on the trail, we carry on and the path is covered with an old tree blocking the trail. Invoking the spirit of Ernie we ride straight over it and liberate the path! We also spot an old disused mill on the river near Saint-Remy and dream up several uses for it, i'll just leave that there.
|Old disused Mill near Saint-Remy, Craft Beer anyone?|
Day 3, Sunday 11th September, Clecy and home.
It was our last day but we didn’t have to be on the ferry until the afternoon, so we cleaned the house, packed the van and headed to Clecy to ride over the gorge. Clecy is the capitol of the region and an amazing hub for an outdoor life, offering hiking, cycling, kayaking, paragliding and via ferrata.
We park by the river and head of on RED 16, this crosses the river at Le Bo and climbs up to the top of the gorge, however we should of jumped on the black halfway up the climb but carried on climbing on the red. At this point it looked like we were going away from the gorge and with no map to check we thought we would participate in some off-piste hike-a-bike to get back to where we should have been, once back on the track we get on the top of the gorge. This route is just brilliant and takes you along the top via a swopping trail embedded with rocks and roots with a final decent through a boulder strewn path that even includes a decent jump!
|Greg and Simon|
We head back to Ouisterham to catch the ferry all in great spirits after a great weekend away, we even won the Brittany Ferries pub quiz on the way!