Having practiced packing suitcases and bikes into the car (see New tandem, part 5), we were confident that we’d be able to cram everything in.  We laid two suitcases, covered with an oil resistant sheet (we’d read that Rohloff hubs can leak oil when the bike’s placed on its side), placed the large tandem section (minus pedals and rear bars) on that, then the front section  and finally the Cervelo TT bike. All the bike parts were protected by large sheets to prevent clinking and chipping. We left the tandem wheels mounted in the frame sections, but had to remove the TT bike wheels, which travelled in wheel bags. Oddly, we had to unscrew the TT bike handlebars to fit the bike in. I was sufficiently nervous that we might have a struggle getting everything loaded that we started packing early, and were left sitting around twiddling our thumbs. Obviously one thing led to another, and we set off early – despite going by a longer route than recommended by Google Maps and taking a break at Chieveley Services, and the threatened roadworks delays on M27 and M275 (which Brittany Ferries texted me about) we arrived at Portsmouth International Ferry Port stupidly early).

We were booked on the Normandie Express fast crossing, which usually takes around 3h between Portsmouth and Cherbourg. Somewhat strangely, we were sent through to line up beyond the point where cars get searched (if selected), but there was no ferry – it was a little late arriving, but eventually we were all on board. The ferry wasn’t particularly busy, but we were treated to the spectacle of loads of small children walking and running round the ferry, with anxious parents following them.

Disembarking was straightforward, with no hold-ups getting through French customs. I have to confess, however, to sending The Stoker (who is the driver) in the wrong direction from the Ferry Port, and we had to turn round at a roundabout to get back onto the correct road. From that point on, there weren’t any major problems and, while it was dark by the time we reached the house we were staying at we knew the route so well we found our way easily.

The others had arrived earlier than us, and I gratefully quaffed some of the cool beer offered to me. And so to bed.