A Rapid Return to Brittany – A Review from the Rear

23 -26 May 2013


Cycling Team











Tempted 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 thing?’.


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!



...and finally.....


...pleased 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.