Sunday, 5 June 2016

French Raid 3

Huelgoat Aller et Retour

Today was reserved for a quick dash down the voie vert to Huelgoat, the favoured destination of SBCC (other clubs are available) excursions across la Manche from Plymouth. At this time of year, the cycle track is a pleasant ride through verdant countryside, with birds and bees filling the air with their humming and singing. Being a disused railway line, the track has a constant gradient, mostly downhill from Morlaix, which avoids the undulations of the road. It is not a route for skinny tyres, but our trusty HEVANSCCs (other brands are NOT available) were equipped with 32s and 38s - so not a problem. We were hoping to repeat our experience of last year and stop at the old station at Scrignac for a café and mini Far Breton, but alas, it has now been converted to a 16 bed gîte d'etape so will forever remain a Brigadoon moment in our cycling history.

The track was the busiest we've seen it, awash with cyclists and walkers, plus a gypsy caravan to negotiate . . .

. . . and clearly S should have bought the sprig of lavendar proffered by the old crone in the back, and so avoided the curse of the most complete chainring imprint I have ever seen . . .

. . . though in her defence please note the co-ordinated socks. Talking of which, the fashion this year in bike apparel seems to be matt black. We passed many earnest-looking cyclotourists kitted out with matt black bikes, matt black panniers, matt black shorts-shirts-helmets, and pretty much matt black expressions on their faces; like squadrons of cycling terminators autonomically determined to 'get there' according to an inviolate timetable. As regular readers will know, I am a keen advocate of scientific methods, applied to rigorous training for a cyclotouring life, not least of which is the necessity of frequent stops for rehydration with isotonic beverages bought at great expense from specialist sports . . . erm . . . bars . . .

So, having escaped the cycling sentinels of doom, we arrived at Huelgoat to find the sun glinting off the lake, le champignon in full bloom and the chaos in full flood (see previous Huelgoat blog re. interesting granite formations) - so we made straight for Le Brittany Pub . . .

. . . where we had the ususal omlette et frites; a first for S, but she declared it to be 'the finest omlette I've ever had' - praise indeed. Such was her joyous mood that she even bought me a celebratory (slightly dodgy looking I have to say, but I leave that to your imagination) ice-cream . . .

Ça va


Saturday, 4 June 2016

French Raid 2

Tour de Manche Reprise

Stoked up with the best that La Dolce Vita could provide (refer to any blog post from Morlaix of the previous 5 years for an explanation of our 'go-to' restaurant) we were off for a repeat of the first section of our Tour de Manche of two years ago, this time sans panniers and trailer. Weather was again Baltic for the time of year, so arm and leg warmers remained firmly in place for most of the ride.

Now, regular readers will know how S loves to go 'off the beaten path', and this ride was no disappointment for her . . .

Subsequently, there were several turns off piste which S forbade me to explore . . . I suppose it worked out well in the end because, as we rounded a corner two old hulks hove into view . .

' . . . that makes four of us', I said to S

The destination of the day was Locquirec, where we had camped two summers ago, and the route was as I remembered it; frilly and hilly - hilly in the way you know it to be if you live in Devon or Cornwall and similarly, frilly in the sense that the signposted way insisted in taking us up and down every creek and inlet, so that 1 km = 20 km.

The more astute of you will have observed over the years that S has the sort of engine which doesn't go far on 'vapour' - one minute the needle is on the quarter tank mark, and the next . . . complete shut down. So it was imperative that we reach our destination p.d.q. or I would be endlessly circling back with cajolements and offers of scraps of three-day old baguette from my back pocket for the last 10 k. Luckily, we arrived in time to refuel and enjoyed tha harbour view as we munched our poulet complet et saumon et crevettes, washed down with the customary demi-bouteille.



Typically, having enjoyed a hearty lunch, it becomes necessary to avail oneself of the local conveniences, but, having convinced myself there were some on the harbour, could I find them?. . . of course not. This, despite sending S out on a reconnaissance in a vague direction, dimly remembered (guessed) from past years? So, at odds with my natural predeliction to skinflintyness, we resorted to buying a café solely to avail ourselves. Normally in these situations I send S off to test the ground - not difficult, she being invariably being the most needy - but on this ocasion, having subjected her to one wild goose chase, I went to investigate myself . . . alas, they were occupied, so I returned to report back; after a suitable delay S sallied forth . . . still occupied; third time lucky I thought and, emboldened by my swelling bladder, I used a firm hand on the door . . . still occupied. It was at this point that I decided to do what no paid-up member of the male sex ever wants to, I asked . . . and received the reply 'Oui monsieur, it is over there, it is free . . . it is a sliding door'

I put it down to some sort of drug in the coffee because, on our return, I swear that I rode past a succession of tractors driven by the cast of the Wizard of Oz, and then to top it off, Andy from last year's SBCC club tour cycled past - well in fact it was Andy, so I stopped for a bit of a chat.

Returning to a foot-tapping S, I treated her to a Perrier (glass of water to you) at the Café du Port just to show that I know how to show a girl good time . . .


Ça va


Friday, 3 June 2016

French Raid 1

And so, it's that time of year again when the Evans' take leave for their summer residence en France. Well not quite; three days in Morlaix can hardly be construed as a grand degustation, but it will do as an hors d'oeuvres for the main course to come later - right, that's got some reference to food into the blog while under strict orders from S to steer clear of anything a manger.

The last few days in Plymouth have been, how shall I say it quietly . . . warm. Given that the wind has yet to properly swing round to its accustomed Westerly direction, and bring summer with it, this was worth a mention. And I was feeling lucky, having booked a weekend sortie across the channel à vélo, the weather had picked up with perfect timing. To celebrate, S had bought a bumber bottle of sun block which took up half the space in her panniers . . .
So, on arrivving in Roscoff at the crack of dawn, and smearing on the 50+ liberally, imagine our dismay to find that the typical British summer had taken up residence across la manche. No sooner had we cleared Border Control - whatever happend to 'Customs' - than the arm warmers were donned . . . then we got no further than St Pol when the jacket and knee warmers made an appearance . . .

Neverthless, being true Brits (albeit REMAINers - had to get that in) forged in the furnace (ironic metaphor intended) of childhood summers, spent shivering under a light drizzle on a 1970s Cornish beach, under a towel the texture of rhinocerous hide . . . we headed for the café.

Ça va