It rained over night and so the first job of the day was shaking out the tent and left to dry a bit which was fine. A breakfast fit for a king makes a BIG difference to mood and stamina! Croissant, chocolate twist, banana and strong coffee (drunk from a saucepan as I realised I had no cup – oops!) set me up for the day really well.
A lovely chap from the previous evening was chatting with Pablo as I surveyed the loose bike stand that had been driving me mad the previous day. It had begun clunking against the left pedal as I went along the path. The bumpy paths probably loosened it and I didn’t have the correct tool to tighten it (Note to self – make sure you have all the tools you’ll need on your trip). I asked him if he had the correct tool and if I might borrow it. To my amazement, he did! He tightened it up good and proper. Pablo suggested just taking it off but I found it easier to get the panniers on with the bike resting on the stand when I was on my own and so was pleased I managed to keep it in place.
We said a quick ‘au revoir’ to our friends from the previous evening and headed off. I knew today that Pablo needed to cover some serious miles today (at least 100kms probably) and that I could not sustain that pace so I was aiming for a camping at a place I saw online at Josselin.
THE VELODYSEE WEBSITE – very good resource for the route maps, GPX files for your GPS and also for distances between places and camping, hostels, hotels etc.
Josselin was 50km away and so I headed off with Pablo for the first 10km or so. One of the experienced cyclists from the previous evening also set off around this time and told me ‘doucement’ (slowly) for the first 10km until I warmed up. My legs were beginning to feel the strain after 170km in 2 days. Pablo gave me some extra invaluable tips and told me of his own first journeys and pushing himself on to do the extra kilometres so to get stronger and be able to go the longer distances. All great advice and I felt sad that our little journey together was coming to an end but we said bye on the path and he pushed on. He needed to get to Barcelona, over the Pyrenees, and I wasn’t really on a tight schedule. I’d planned 40km per day minimum but was easily doing 60km to 80km per day by the end of my trip.
I continued at a good pace along the Brest/Nantes canal path. A very straight forward route which I was pleased about. I often asked people for guidance along the way – just to double check. I had some great discussions with french locals and other cyclists who were always happy to stop and chat. When I did get to Josselin it was time for lunch. I had made excellent progress. I found a little cafe near to a rather impressive little castle near to the canal. I locked the bike to the railings and went in. The staff were very welcoming (even though I probably looked like a right state!) and I ordered omelette, chips and salad. Delicious (even though I had to pick the ham out of it)! I’d managed to ask for no cheese (I am dairy free) but had neglected to notice that the omelette I had ordered contained ham! It looked so tasty and the staff were so nice that I decided to just eat around the ham – probably better for my digestion to eat it a bit more slowly anyway. All this was washed down with an Orangina and a small coffee.
As I was tucking into my massive plate of food, the cyclist who had helped me with my bike stand wandered in. I explained that Pablo had to push on and now I really was going solo. He seemed very impressed :-). We had a good chat with my terrible french and his broken english but it’s amazing how you can converse with people even when there are language challenges. He was a great chap. We looked through some maps and the routes for the next couple of days and then went our separate ways.
I ventured up to the tourist information (my new favourite destination!). I now was relying, almost entirely, on my GPS and that wasn’t ideal so I managed to get a map for the route to Nantes here and also asked about taking a bus from Redon to St Nazaire (where the bus across the peninsula was). I had planned to cycle all the way to St Nazaire, going cross country from Redon and through some little villages, but would check about a bus – just in case. Pablo and I did not want to go into Nantes with it’s bigger roads and extra kilometres so needed to get to St Nazaire by a different route.
The Tourist Information people were really helpful, although the bus didn’t really seem like a good option. I continued on and found the camping around 3pm – ‘Camping de Cerise’ just outside Josselin (less than 5km away). A really great campsite. I got the tent up, gave my appliances to reception as they said they could charge them (there hadn’t been much sun that day), got washed and had supper (more avocado). I also bought some organic vegetables at a little stall that came to the camping every evening – fantastic. Up in northern France there were lots of smaller farms and often I saw people weeding by hand – some quite big fields (not massive ones which are becoming more and more prevalent everywhere it seems). Fields of artichoke, greens, all sorts of things. I had a quick walk around the camping which also had some small sheep and goats in a mini farm and then went to the bar had a seat and began reading one of my books. I began with Chris Froome’s ‘The Climb’ which would provide some inspiration for any large hills I may come across in the coming days I hoped! It’s all about the suffering :-).
More cycling tomorrow along the Brest/Nantes canal path. Rain was forecast but I cycled everyday in January in Wiltshire as a challenge and so was unfazed by the inclement weather prediction! It was cozy in my tent and I zonked out quickly that night,