A Rapid Return to Brittany – A Review from the Rear
23 -26 May 2013
by the promise of flat (or downhill) roads, tailwinds and sunny weather, short
distances, a gentle pace and a focus on refuelling and rehydration; in
celebration of the git’s bus pass and the graduation from MAMIL to OGIL (old
geezer in lycra), your reporter was coaxed out of retirement and tasked with
leading (from the rear) a short return tour of Brittany.
Day 1 – Roscoff to Le
Faou (47 miles)
In order fully to
appreciate a tailwind, you have to experience it as a headwind, as we did on the
final run-in to Le Faou. I was
putting our excellent progress down to the large amount of power we were
generating following months of hard and dedicated training – but sadly, as
always, it was just the wind. A
pretty standard day really, improved by cabins on the ferry – early coffees,
mid-morning ciders (as required), a good scoff in Sizun at lunchtime and gentle
progress to Le Faou where, contrary to the opinions of Booking.com, the hotel
was not bursting at the seams. A
pleasant enough evening in a good-looking village, but where is the post-meal
entertainment? A few quiet drinks in
the hotel bar (Logis le Relais de la Place) and an early night ensures a healthy
man for the following day’s efforts but...is that the idea?
Day 2 – Le Faou to Le
Faou (a day off – 60 miles)
The day off is, by
tradition, tough. In strong winds
and chilly weather, we made a 60 mile tour of the Crozon Peninsula, a highlight
being the crossing of a rather nice curved cable-stayed bridge – the Pont de
Terenez. We were extremely lucky in
avoiding the rain; that tended to fall when we were in the bar.
This was the nominated swimming day, but fortunately sanity prevailed and
trunks remained firmly tucked away. An
ascent of Menez Hom (alt 330m) would have been more enjoyable in warmer weather
and the crosswinds prevented a rapid descent.
On the return, Glenn (not his fault!) narrowly avoided an unsaddling with
some excellent bike-handling skills. I
believe this terrain is called ‘rolling’, in your reporter’s case too
‘rolling’ and I finished the day out of steam and suffering (day off!).
Again the hotel bar was the evening venue although the PMU next door was
exhibiting some life and consequent noise at 3am.
Much later we learn that Mike became a first-time granddad this day, a
good excuse for a liquid celebration, if only we had known!
Day 3 – Le Faou to
Huelgoat (40 miles)
Saturday and time
to move on, in Glenn’s case about 10 yards.
Gear problems were sorted out with the help of a nearby bike shop where
we discovered that the French for ‘cable’ is ‘cable’.
Your reporter was suffering a certain power cut in the legs department
– the bridge was calling for ‘full steam ahead’ but in the engine room,
the stokers were refusing to stoke. The
problem with Saturdays in France is that not much is open but, following some
sound advice from a local lunchtime drinker, we did find a place that was open
in Landeleau (although it didn’t really advertise the fact) and, as usual,
this place was excellent serving good beer and food.
We were advised that there was an internationally renowned beer outlet
just up the road in Plouye en route to Huelgoat – a natural venue for
afternoon tea. Huelgoat –
excellent scenic location, nice hotel (Hotel du Lac), really good meal and then
the Champions League final – two German teams eliciting little interest from
the locals. Again, there was a local
bar with some signs of life, but common sense prevailed and the early bed
beckoned – a problem of becoming an OGIL is that one starts to become a touch
more sensible and more aware of the unpleasant effects of excessive late night
drinking, but the question needs to be asked – ‘is this good sense a good
Day 4 – Huelgoat to
Roscoff (45 miles)
A recovery in the
leg department allows a quick leader’s perusal of the map for the first time,
just long enough to lead the team off in the wrong direction.
The sun is out and it’s pretty much all downhill for 20km, a chance to
roll gently along; however, that is much less fun than the downhill charge.
The morning coffee in Morlaix revealed the first and last ‘babyfoot’
of the tour – where was it in Le faou and Huelgoat?
Sunday in France – difficult to find a restaurant and when you do
they’re fully booked. However, you
only need to find one and the creperie in the Carantec village centre was the
dog’s – dinner, with local cider, outside in the sun.
And so, a final afternoon tea in St Pol, where K2 claimed the team’s
first and only puncture, and a ridiculous attempt at a crash on entering Roscoff
port when the big sign indicating ‘Le Port’ is ignored!
to be coaxed out of retirement again; slightly faster and fitter than expected
(must be the new bike) – thoroughly enjoyed the trip and may be back for
more...unless the word ‘mountain’ is overheard.