Monday, 25 March 2013

Tandem tour 3

Days 4, 5 and 6. The cold Gite was real cold. It felt as if the heating had been off all winter, but we didn't mind a bit. The water heated up overnight so we could have a hot shower in the morning. I tuned up the bike a bit and we returned the keys as promised.

Marie invited us in for coffee, which was welcome indeed, and we had a good chat. This made for a late start on the road, but it was nice. We headed for Nantes direct, rather than follow the coastal route all the way round. Doubtless it would have been nice, but it would also have added a day. With the weather as changeable as it is, delay could be lethal.

It was a good run anyhow, at least until we reached the nether parts of Nantes, where navigation became trickier. We had a lucky break and grabbed a ferry across the Loire, cutting out a good bit of industrial wasteland to reach the city centre direct.

Joining the Loire path

Ferry shortcut to Nantes
 Unfortunately, it was the busiest day of the year in Nantes. Piloting the fully laden tandem through thronging crowds was no joke and it took some time to find our way through and out, having lost the Velodissey route signs somewhere along the way.

War graves in Nantes

Once clear of the city we started looking for digs but it took another 20km to track something down. This time it was a farm family who pointed us in the right direction.

Dinner in our lovely little holiday apartment for the night

The next morning we finally joined the Brest-Nantes canal and had almost a full day of off-road riding, which was superb. Nearly all of it was unpaved though, making a tougher ride and we were well worn by the time we reached Redon.

Picknick spot along the Nantes-Brest canal
There was a bizarre encounter along the way with a group of maybe 30 'pilgrims', complete with pack mules, who stopped us on the trail to talk about their march against female circumcision in Mali.

We'd hoped to find a bed in Redon, but alas, the carnival was in town so we got out as fast as we could. There was a bit of a signage failure here but we eventually found our way back onto the canal and away from town. A dog walker in the next village directed us to a farm where she thought we could stop the night. It was up a long, steep hill. They only had a camping place, but the woman very kindly phoned a nearby gite d'etape (a Pilgrim's hostel), who agreed to put us up. He doesn't normally open for just one couple in winter, due to the heating costs, but with us it's no heating, no problem.

The friendly Gite du Menaret
The gite was very cool and not just by the thermometer. We even secured a bottle of delicious home-made cidre from the kind host. That helped to warm the cockles. We hit the hay early, after quite a sapping day.

This morning we were on the road at 9 sharp. It was grey and cold, but the trail surface was better and the riding was freer without the weekend walkers and cyclists. It being Sunday the day before, provisioning had been difficult and we went without cheese for a day. The calorie deficit was acutely felt this morning. We won't be making that mistake again.

The beautiful Nantes-Brest canal

Pretty Malestroit
We treated ourselves to a shorter ride of about 60km today and found a classic chambre d'hote (run by a clairvoyant, no less), right next to the trail in the stunnungly mediaevil village of Josselin.

Josselin town centre
We dumped our gear, found an amazing looking bar and enjoyed some superb Breton beer. Now, to complete the spoiling of ourselves, we're going out for steak and chips. Protein!!

Lancelot beers

And to bed


pj lawson said...

You're obviously younger than I am but surely now you're just showing off ?
Your graphic posts are much enjoyed thank you - even without Fettler.
Perhaps you could find a return load to transport ? A ride on lawnmower would 'up' the challenge and I am sure you would make it.

Victoria Martin said...

Sounds great fun! Keep up the blogging! It's lovely to hear how it's going! Vic x

Jim Brodie said...

Thanks folks. PJ - I'll consider the lawnmower idea. As yet we've no idea how we're going to get back to Fettler. She's in a bit of a public transport blackspot...