A cycle ride with the Seavets. It was always going to be fun. The plan; "We took the train to Auray but got horribly lost last year trying to cycle back, so we’ll cycle there, have lunch then get the train back. It's about 14 miles”
We set off at 10am and arrived back just before 6pm! 8 hours, for much of which we were either lost or had lost someone. We did the most technical bit of single track that I have ever ridden, which was interesting since at least half of the party were on electric rather than mountain bikes. And we nearly had a fight with a Frenchman…!
Joe set off and there was no stopping him. Here you can see him already trying to lose us - and we hadn't even left the campsite! We did speculate as to whether he had a battery in that saddlebag!
Before we got to Plouharnel, we had lost Keith, who had waited for Joe when he stopped to take photos, but then somehow managed to sneak past and get ahead.
A map check on a narrow road in some welcome shade did nothing for Anglo French relations. A Frenchman stopped his car behind us, switched off his engine and started gesticulating. “I think he is saying he can’t get past.” We moved even further off the road and he moved his car right up to us and switched off his engine again, still gesticulating furiously. By this time Maurice was on the corner indicating that it was clear for him to pass. Joe strolled over for a chat with him in perfect French “I can’t pass, you need to get to the side!” “We are at the side.”
At this point, a young lady in a land rover sailed past, overtaking car and bikes to round the corner in a rather carefree, laissez-faire manner. Being overtaken by a girl rather weakened his “I can’t get past” position.
Undeterred, the Frenchman crawled past us, just millimetres from our handlebars, just to make a point. The point being that he was a grumpy, old devil trying to create something to complain about.
You gotta laugh. This is the little chapel at Hahon.
The route we took to Auray bore little resemblance to any route I remember taking before. I explained it to Mark, who had been dog sitting, when I got back. “You know that huge roundabout that you come round on the main road from Vannes? We cycled round that!” It is all but a motorway!”
As we regrouped on the outskirts of Auray, Joe told us to follow the signs to the port of St Goustin if we got separated. We got separated. Somehow, we managed to arrive at our lunch stop from 3 different directions – Joe and I from the direction of Vannes after taking a wrong turn, which I wouldn't have minded but it was UP A HILL!
Here is a view of Auray and the Bar commemorating Benjamin Franklin, who arrived at the port of Saint-Goustan on 3 December 1776 at the beginning of the US War of Independence to seek military aid from Louis XVI.
It was over lunch that we discovered that we had been looking at the wrong day on the train timetable. It was 12.30 and the next train that would take bikes was not until 4pm.
“We’ll cycle back!” went up the cry from the table; I don’t know if it was bravado or just the fact that most of us had by now put away a boule de cidre. As the more junior member of the group, I felt honour bound not to wimp out…!
Powered by pancakes, cidre and caffeine, we set off. In entirely the wrong direction. “We should have the sun on our right shoulder,” said Barry. His bike was not going to let us get away with it, however and raised its own directional objection in puncture form. Puncture duly repaired, we set off back, the sun now scorching satisfyingly on our right shoulders.
We took a turn and followed a cycle track. This took us along the most technical piece of single track that I have ever ridden – a steep, narrow downhill, through trees, with protruding stones and roots and a sharp left hander at the end. Those of us on mountain bikes were alright, but the shopping bikes split off and said that they would go home on the road. The real beauty of our cycle track, however, was that it took us in a perfect circle and we ended up right where we had started. The splinter group looked rather surprised when they rejoined us!
“We can go and see the ‘A-lee-na-ments‘ Joe said. “The what?” “The Alignements’”. I have to say I never tire of seeing the amazing standing stones at Carnac. I also saw a silvery-gold Breton foal with a beautiful star in the centre of his forehead, but the camera had jammed and Joe was off before I could take a photo of him.
Joe shot ahead at Plouharnel. “They all know the way back from here!” We arrived back at the campsite in dribs and drabs between 6 and 6.30, having cycled about 40 miles in 27 degree heat. Not quite the 3pm return we had planned, but then, there was no wind anyway.
Thank you, Joe, for a wonderful day out. It is always such a pleasure and an inspiration to spend time in the company of such positive, can-do people!