Shirkers Day (and night!) Out

dave_lobley
As I'm sure you are aware, getting to see the TdF this year presents a significant challenge for true Shirkers as rather frustratingly the route does not come within 100kms of Calais. Despite repeated requests to the organisers ASO I've been unable top get the it changed so we are stuck with what we race.
I think the best option to see the race is the start of stage 5 on July 8 in Arras - A major fair town in the Middle Age which is today part of the UNESCO World Heritage, probably most famous for Johnny Hallyday performing there in 2002.

The traditional shirkers "Out and back" in a day doesn't work - the 0606 train from Sevenoaks gets us to the 0825 ferry arriving Calais 1055 just 10 minutes after the Tour caravan leaves Arras, so proposed alternative (sticking to "no more than 1 day off work" criterium) is an ovenight in Calais, morning train to Arras to hang around the signing on parade and see of the Caravan, ride 10kms north to watch the race at its most northerly point at 1310, then ride 100kms back to Calais to catch 1955 ferry back to Dover. That gives us about 6 hours for the ride, plenty of time to stop for dinner at the rather salubrious campsite we stopped at last year.

Outline itinerary -
Tuesday 7 July
1746 train from Sevenoaks, arrive Dover 1915
2015 ferry, arrive Calais 2245 (dinner on board)
overnight Hotel Balladins (basic, but cheap and close to ferry and station)

Wednesday 8 July
0734 train from Calais, arrive Arras 0938
hang out in Arras, maybe watch sign on and depart of Caravan at 1045
ride 10kms to junction D341 / D58, watch race at 1310
1330 set off north, ride 80kms to Ardres - Auberge du Lac "Le Fregate", arrive 1730 for dinner
1830 depart Ardres ride 15kms to Calais
1955 ferry arrives 2025
2103 train gets back at 2220
2203 train if we miss the 2103.

As is usual, this is my best effort done from comfort of my desk, no guarantees offered and things could go wrong. In particular, booking bikes on the train is not possible and they won't guarantee to fit us on - if that happens we'll just have to do a circular tour of the Nord Pas de Calais and watch the race from a bar (life could be worse!). Also, this is quite a bit tougher than last year - a reasonable level of fitness is needed and toilet stops will be strictly limited to 1 per hour!

Cost-wise, its obviously going to be more than last year because of the hotel and the fact you cant get day return tickets. I reckon -

UK Train - £28
Ferry - £40 (not sure if combined Train - ferry ticket is available with overnight stay)
Hotel - £40, less if you want to share, (and can find someone prepared to share with you)
France Train - £20

plus money for food, tacky souvenirs and plenty of cheap red wine!

Let me know if interested and I'll get things sorted

Dave L - dplobley@yahoo.co.uk