Cycling from Lloyd's of London to the Rendez Vous Reinsurance Conference: Day 2 - bunk beds and Normandy hills: harder than today's (re)insurance market (which used to run in cycles)


    Like the professional cyclists we are, Steve Rowan and I are sharing twin bedded rooms on our ride from Lloyd's to Monte Carlo. Snoring allegations aside, you'd expect that to be easy: arm wrestle to work out who gets the best bed (best of 3, if I don't win first time, best of 5 if I'm still not in the lead). Shower and fall into a deep, deep sleep.

    But things weren't quite so easy on the cross-channel ferry last night. The cabin was tiny. There was a sofa to lie on - which was so narrow that, if you turned over, you'd fall off; and then there was the floor. So, the arm wrestle was for the floor until Steve noticed the handle on the ceiling - turn it and a bunk bed pulls down; and I tugged the back of the sofa, and turned it into a bed.

    It was gone midnight by the time we'd resolved our local difficulties. All we had to do then, was listen to the crew's announcements; and sleep. Unfortunately, the gist of the last announcement was: "If we start to sink, the captain will sound the horn 3 times. Abandon ship!" Combine that with throbbing engines and sore knees, and it makes for a poor night's kip.

    But that's behind us, and today's ride was great.

    For the first 2 miles, we followed a cycle-lane along a canal to Pegasus Bridge, where one of the first D-day battles took place. We stopped for coffee and photos, before hooking up with some guys form Barclays Corporate Bank and heading off for the first 25 mile tranche of the day.

    10 miles in, and the road was closed. But we found a short detour, and were back on the route quite soon.

    The second 25 miles were brutal. The day was advertised as "flat", but the hills were long and hard.

    We had a puncture at 45 miles, and a little old lady came out to help. I repaired the wheel, while Steve (and his shoes) stood casually by, chatting to our host in fluent french.

    The third 25 miles was marred by a long stretch of recently gravelled road, which was slippy and dangerous. But not nearly as bad as the deep sand that had washed onto yesterday's lanes and took a couple of our riders out.

    The last 25 miles included a long straight section of "roman road", which stretched across a series of valleys for miles. The route profile for that section was like some parts of the (re)insurance market of recent times: it went up and down in cycles, but thankfully - at least on this occasion - it was mainly down.

    All 40 riders finished again today, with times of between 8 and 11 hours. We spent the last couple of hours in a restaurant chatting - and relaxing - over steak frites and beer. A perfect end to the day.

    Today's ride: 101.16 miles
    Mileage so far: 188.13 miles
    Today's climbing: 1,541 meters
    Climbing so far: 2,776 meters

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