DaTorbay2008TripToBrittany

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Torbay's 11th Spring Trip to Brittany

Saturday 15th March 2008

Geoff Sharp organising transport

Last year three members of CTC Exeter joined Geoff Sharp’s trip to Brittany. This year our team was bolstered by Debbie - who brought along her school-girl French and a large supply of jelly babies - which were crammed into every spare corner of her bags.

Milling around the car park at Plymouth were dozens of cyclists. We latched onto one group only to find that they were an exuberant party from the Axe Valley Peddallers whose motto is Beer, Bikes and Chips (do we have a motto?). They were also taking a trip to Brittany but planned to consume twice as much alcohol as us whilst travelling half the distance.

Once we’d worked out which party we were in we were marshalled by Geoff onto the ferry.
click images to enlarge

Roscoff

Emerging into the pre-dawn light we joined John Beesley's group heading south to Huelgoat. We paused briefly in St-Pol-de-Léon to don wet weather gear and followed the Penze River inland towards Guiclan where those of us who'd missed breakfast gleefully descended on the local Boulanger-Patisserie. By now the rain had eased and, contrary to expectations, we stayed dry for the rest of the day. Whilst we were stopped Geoff's fast group shot past, only to pull-up 50 metres further on at the next cafe.

Crowds of cyclists stopping at the Boulanger-Patisserie in Guiclan.


St-Thégonnec

We pressed on to St-Thégonnec where the draw of the Bar des Sports proved irresistible. Coffee was supplemented by a round of fresh pain-au-chocolat from the Boulangerie-Patisserie Nicol served up by Debbie who had recovered her appetite after the lumpy crossing.

Sculptures on the calvary in St-Thégonnec

Refreshed we indulged in a modest amount of culture by strolling around the far side of the church to view the Calvary adorned with hundreds of sculptures - one of which features Henry IV.

Brains and stomachs refreshed we set off up the gradual climb towards Roc'h Trévezel. Ahead the red and white TV mast appeared periodically through the mist.

Near the top we turned off the main D 785 and, fortified by Debbie's jelly babies, we reached the Col de Tredudon at 361 metres. At the top we could see down to the Réservoir de St-Michel spread out below. The scenery near the summit reminded us of Dartmoor.

Turning off the D 764 for Huelgoat.


Huelgoat

The lake at Huelgoat.


From the Col we descended rapidly alongside the River Fao - and in no time arrived in Huelgoat. The town sits on the edge of a placid lake, the outflow from which tumbles through a giant field of granite boulders.

Before lunch we explored the boulders which hide the Grotte du Diable (the Devil's Cave - I wonder if he's related to the Dartmoor Devil?). Unwisely our leader John visited the cave - little did he realise what consequences this foolish act would have.

After this little adventure we settled into the Restaurant du Lac for lunch. While we were perusing the menu Simon received a mobile phone call. Listening to one side of the conversation it was clear that the caller was in trouble - I wondered how long it would take Simon to return to the UK to help.

This wasn't necessary as the call was from John who was stuck five metres away in the restaurant toilet. Meanwhile Don - who had been in the adjacent cubicle - was trying unsuccessfully, using his three words of French (café, franc and Paris), to persuade the lady proprietoress to visit the toilet to help (aide memoir: la toilette, un homme, piégés).

Eventually six of us assembled in the toilet to assess the crisis. After dismantling the lock from the inside, removing the door surround and using some brute force a relieved (in more ways than one) John was extracted. A bilingual couple in the restaurant were keeping everyone informed of progress - and a cheer erupted when the release was effected.

After all this excitement we had a leisurely lunch.

From Huelgoat we turned north to begin the amazing descent to Morlaix. The road descends 250 metres in 18 km at an almost constant gradient. During the descent the speed crept up-and-up as a private battle was fought between the Torbay riders.

Morlaix

Le Grand Cafe de la Terrasse in Morlaix.


Martin Patissiir.

Soon we reached Morlaix where we encountered our first traffic lights and wound our way down to the Place des Otages. Now we were faced by a dilemma - was it to be Le Grand Café de la Terrasse or the Martin Patissier? The latter got the vote and we all ordered drinks and cakes - except Roy who displayed massive self control.

All the cakes except Debbie's disappeared in no time - we latter realised that she had over-dosed on jelly babies. At this point Roy cracked and helped Debbie finish her cake.

After this break for tea we followed the river downstream, crossed the Pont de la Corde, and then attempted to follow some cycle tracks which were surfaced with egg-sized pebbles. The wimps among us retreated to the main road were we continued to St-Pol-de-Léon.

Following the river to the sea.


St-Pol-de-Léon

St Pol public toilets.

Entering St-Pol Simon (why is it always Simon?) heard a lady calling for help. I turned round to find a French lady (Mme Pillon) trapped in the public toilets by the cleaner who had locked the grill across the entrance at six o'clock.

Mme Pillon demonstrated admirable sang-froid as a crowd of English cyclists assembled. Fortunately the commotion attracted a French lady who seemed to know the number to call to release people locked in toilets and with a shout of Bon Courage we left.

All three groups arrived at the Restaurant La Petit Bricante at much the same time and we tucked into a range of dishes. Proceedings were interrupted by the power failing several times which required to owner to dash across the restaurant in darkness to re-set the fuses. I soon realised that the best tactic was to make sure you had something on your fork while it was light so you could eat while it was dark.

After the meal we returned to the ferry in darkness for an uneventful return crossing.

Many thanks to Geoff Sharpe for organising the trip and to our leader John Beessley, and Simon, Warren, Fred, Debbie, Roy and Don for their excellent company.

Kirby James

Track of Route

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