DaTorbay2007TripToBrittany

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A Shopping Trip to Brittany - March 2007

I answered a small ad in the Highwayman which offered a cheap shopping trip to Brittany combined with a leisurely 20 mile bike ride. In due course I arrived in Plymouth on a wet Friday evening in March to find the city being buffeted by gale force winds and torrential rain. Ken Addicott had said that he wouldn’t go if was too rough - so when he actually turned up I took this as a good sign. Unfortunately Ken was wrong about the weather - it was a rough crossing and many cyclists couldn’t face even a croissant for breakfast.

... click on images for larger picture ...

Around 40 cyclists emerged blinking and somewhat dazed to find dawn breaking on Roscoff Quay. I positioned myself at the back as the 150 km riders set off at an alarming pace - the 100 km group set off soon after and I hung around and latched onto the shopping group.

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We wound our way along the coast road out of Roscoff through Santec before turning inland towards Plougoulm. The roads were almost completely empty as we crossed fields still saturated from the overnight rain. This area of Brittany is predominately agricultural and we tried to identify the variety of crops. Puzzlingly we passed the 100 kilometre riders several times in the next hour - twice they were headed in the opposite direction - I can only assume that they were hopelessly lost.
After 20 kilometres we arrived at Le Madness Bar Tabac in Berven. After peering through the cigarette smoke I could see that the walls were decorated with 1960’s posters of English pop groups. The party of nine cyclists seemed to stretch the resources of the café on what would normally have been a quiet Saturday morning.
I assumed that we would soon be arriving at the shops but we were led even further west through Lanhouarneau and Plounéventer. Between the two we had a long freewheel down to the Fleche Rau where there was an elegant mill overlooking a large pond. After climbing out of the valley we dropped down to Lanneuffret where we turned east to follow the l’Elorn Fleuve past the ruined castle at lá Roche-Maurice. With a strong mild wind behind us the gentle climb up the valley was almost effortless.
After a further 20 kilometres we arrived in the small town of Landivisiau where I spotted Le Patio Restaurant Crêperie Pizzéria – shopping would have to wait! We were escorted to a back room where we spread ourselves out and enjoyed a leisurely two hour lunch accompanied by many carafes of wine. As we were leaving we met the 100 kilometre group who were turned away as the restaurant was closing (I’m glad I wasn’t with them).
After lunch we headed off towards the shops. We passed through St Thégonnec and then descended into Morlaix where we piled into Le Grande Café de la Terrasse which overlooks the market in the main square.
After drinks we set off under the viaduct and along the coastal road through Locquenole towards Carantec. Soon after leaving Morlaix the heavens opened and for the first time we had to don waterproof clothing. For 20 minutes the rain was torrential and the run-off from the fields streamed down and across the roads. We cautiously crossed the Pont de la Corde and arrived at St Pol-de-Leon at six o’clock as the rain began to ease.
Before shopping we decamped into La Petit Brocante for a quick bite to eat - this took two and a half hours – only interrupted by the arrival of the 150 and 100 kilometre riders – I’m glad I didn’t have to ride that far.
After filling ourselves we emerged into the darkness to fix our lights to our bikes and set off back towards the ferry.
Many thanks to Geoff Sharp for arranging such an enjoyable trip, to John Beesley our leader and to David, Chris, Brian, Wendy, Fred, Nicole and Don for their pleasurable company on the ride - just a shame we didn’t find the shops.

Kirby James