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Last week, I took a quick, two day, one night trip from Paris to Normandy to see the D-Day Beaches. Although I did not plan any significant riding, my bike was with me (naturally), and I did do two short rides (in addition to a lot of driving in the car). I stayed in Arromanches, which is between Omaha Beach and Gold Beach. On the first day, I rode west and visited the batteries at Longues and Port-en-Bessin. On the morning of the second day, I rode east and toured Gold and Juno Beaches. I had too little time to visit the area fully and my rides only whetted my appetite for more. But, being on the bike gave me a very good feel for the beaches and the terrain above them. If anyone has toured the area by bike, I would be interested in hearing how much time you spent in the area and where you went -- I definitely would like to return again and spend more time touring on the bike.

When I was leaving Paris, a friend remarked that I was in for an emotional two days. I kind of shrugged this off -- I have visited battlefields such as those at Gettysburg and Antietam and military cemeteries such as Arlington and I have seen all of the major D-Day related movies (e.g., The Longest Day, Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers) without shedding any tears. I was fine until I was at the American Military Cemetery at Colville-sur-Mer. I was walking among the thousands of crosses and stars of david that are familiar to anyone who has seen photos of the place. But, I had expected the graves to face the water; they did not. Then it hit me, all of the graves were facing West -- to the United States -- to the homes to which the 9,387 soldiers never returned. Yes, it was quite an emotional moment for me.

When you see the beaches, the cliffs that had to be surmounted, the uneven terrain and treacherous hedgerows, the immense sacrifice that both the dead and the living made in Normandy in 1944 cones into clear focus. I thought of Private Ryan's initial words when he is located: "What have I done to earn this?" and Captain Miller's (Tom Hanks') final words in the film: "Earn this."
 

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MarkS said:
Last week, I took a quick, two day, one night trip from Paris to Normandy to see the D-Day Beaches. Although I did not plan any significant riding, my bike was with me (naturally), and I did do two short rides (in addition to a lot of driving in the car). I stayed in Arromanches, which is between Omaha Beach and Gold Beach. On the first day, I rode west and visited the batteries at Longues and Port-en-Bessin. On the morning of the second day, I rode east and toured Gold and Juno Beaches. I had too little time to visit the area fully and my rides only whetted my appetite for more. But, being on the bike gave me a very good feel for the beaches and the terrain above them. If anyone has toured the area by bike, I would be interested in hearing how much time you spent in the area and where you went -- I definitely would like to return again and spend more time touring on the bike.

When I was leaving Paris, a friend remarked that I was in for an emotional two days. I kind of shrugged this off -- I have visited battlefields such as those at Gettysburg and Antietam and military cemeteries such as Arlington and I have seen all of the major D-Day related movies (e.g., The Longest Day, Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers) without shedding any tears. I was fine until I was at the American Military Cemetery at Colville-sur-Mer. I was walking among the thousands of crosses and stars of david that are familiar to anyone who has seen photos of the place. But, I had expected the graves to face the water; they did not. Then it hit me, all of the graves were facing West -- to the United States -- to the homes to which the 9,387 soldiers never returned. Yes, it was quite an emotional moment for me.

When you see the beaches, the cliffs that had to be surmounted, the uneven terrain and treacherous hedgerows, the immense sacrifice that both the dead and the living made in Normandy in 1944 cones into clear focus. I thought of Private Ryan's initial words when he is located: "What have I done to earn this?" and Captain Miller's (Tom Hanks') final words in the film: "Earn this."
I've done a short 2 day 160 mile tour through there - it's great cycling (with some difficult winds off the sea) and lots to do off the bike too - ours was a weekend trip leaving from Portsmouth on the ferry Friday night, arriving Cherbourg on Saturday morning - we rode due south with a good map and no reservations other than the return ferry on late Sunday afternoon - we ended up in St Lo for the night on Saturday - on Sunday morning we road up through Bayeux to Arromanche then east to Ouistreham for the return ferry - every town, every hotel every restauraunt has an overt thanks to the Allied veterans and their sacrifices - in that sense it is very unlike the rest of France - for me it was / is alot more moving than Arlington National Cemetary - I've also sailed along the coast around there a couple of times - my main memory of that is that it was cold!

I'm planning another weekend jaunt through there in the summer - would like to start in St Malo - this time there'll be pictures
 

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You should have come along.

MB1 said:
We don't do no pix.
I am camera challenged. I rely upon people like you and Arby and Philippe to document my rides. But, I really do need to get a camera for my solo rides.
 

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I must have missed the invitation.

MarkS said:
I am camera challenged. I rely upon people like you and Arby and Philippe to document my rides. But, I really do need to get a camera for my solo rides.
Miss M really wants to ride in France but something always comes up. This time it was the USPS forgetting to deliver our mail once again.....:(
 

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I'll hand-deliver it the next time.

MB1 said:
Miss M really wants to ride in France but something always comes up. This time it was the USPS forgetting to deliver our mail once again.....:(
As Marshall Field, the legendary Chicago retailer, is reported to have said: "Give the lady what she wants." With the resources around here (philippe, teo, etc.), we should be able to come up with riding and touring ideas that would even satisfy Miss M. After my weekend in Belgium for the Tour of Flanders, I also would recommend some time "north of the border." Miss M strikes me as the kind of person that would like to ride on cobbles.
 

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I visited the Normandy area in October of 2004 while taking a 2 weeks leave from being over in Iraq. The weather was beautiful that time of year, plus it was out of season for most of the tourists. I rented a car in Caen and stayed in Bayeax for five days. Because of my circumstances, I didn't have a bike, but I enjoyed it immensely. I put over 800 km's on the car I rented! I took a lot of pictures, the Norman countryside is gorgeous (unlike Baghdad). Here is a link to the American Cemetery in Normandy: http://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries/cemeteries/no.php . There are (only) just over 9,000 buried there another 18,000 or so were reinterred back to the United States at the request of their families. If you get the chance to go, do it!
 
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