Velodyssey Day 1 – Roscoff to Maël-Carhaix

Distance cycled- 65 miles

So boys how would you sum up today in 3 words? ….. Thirsty, Concert, Laughing

Yesterday saw the boys complete the ‘prelude’ of their adventure with a successful ride across Dartmoor & apparently what was a rather good fish & chip supper in the Barbican. It was a great little test, and just gave them a while to get used to cycling the fully-loaded bikes on familiar territory, with plenty of time to sort out any niggles if they happened, which happily they didn’t.

So as the sun started to dip in the sky, the boys arrived at the Ferry Terminal & were at the front of the queue to roll their bikes onto the overnight ferry to Roscoff. The moment their wheels turned onto the ramp into the ferry the trip really got underway and there was no turning back.

Last moments of tyres on English soil – next stop France!

They had been sensible and had booked a cabin on board, so at least they had their own space to relax, once they were happy that the bikes were safely stowed and secure on the car deck.

Having put the huge array of electrical equipment on to charge, they then were able to get down to the serious business of recharging their legs with a healthy mix of tea & chocolate – I’m not sure if this is a well-researched, scientific approach to recovery – but it seemed to work for them & after a good night’s sleep they were ready to get back on the bikes & fulfil their dream of cycling off the ferry this morning.

After weeks of training in the rain, ending most of the rides dripping with water, drying the kit out above the aga, the boys seemed to have been blessed by the weather-gods this morning. They pulled out of the car-deck, and up the ramp into the glorious sunshine & warmth of a perfect summer morning in Brittany. All I can say is long may it last!

Beautiful first sunrise in France at the start of the VeloRoute

They cycled out through Roscoff, following the road that we used to take, when we holidayed nearby, when the boys were tiny, the only trraffic passing them being the other vehicles spilling off the ferry.

On the outskirts of the town they picked up the first Velodyssey signs, turning off the road and away from the traffic, along what seemed to be the bed of an old railway line. After following this track for a while, they crossed the river, before starting to cycle out along the beautiful road, that leads from Carantec, towards the pretty market town of Morlaix. This road runs along the edge of the river, all the way into the town, which is nestled at the head of the estuary, sitting below its dramatic viaduct.

The early morning cycling was beautiful, a quiet road, with great views and the soft light glinting on the river – the dawn chorus, adding a unique soundtrack to the ride. They couldn’t really have had a better start.

The stunning estuary views near Carantec

With the initial leg of the ride done, they had built up an appetite, and settled down to the first important activity of the day, enjoying breakfast in a café under the viaduct. The best thing about arriving on a Saturday morning is that Morlaix has a great market in the heart of the old town, so the boys were able to load up with provisions for lunch, meaning they wouldn’t need to worry about finding a café later, and could stop when they fancied it.  

Enjoying breakfast in Morlaix & Tom clearly happy to have found some tea!

So by mid-morning they really were well underway and after climbing out of Morlaix, soon found themselves cycling along lovely quiet trails through the pretty, green countryside of northern Brittany, finally feeling that the adventure had begun, and settling down to enjoy the ride​

Following the veloroute signs, they rode along delightful green lanes, and all went well as far as the small town of Carhaix Plouguer, about 50 km from Morlaix, where they were aiming to stop to get some water. Carhaix is a small town in mid Brittany, with a population of about 7,500, but as the boys cycled towards it, they realised that something was going on.

‘Oh look boys it’s something like the Okehampton Show’ said Andy. By way of explanation, the Okehampton Show is our local one-day agricultural show – a celebration of regional farming, just one of many such events that take place across Devon and the surrounding counties each summer, drawing visitors to enjoy all the attractions that are on offer.

When you think about it, it was a reasonable suggestion for what may be taking place in a rural town in the centre of an agricultural area, but in fact Andy couldn’t have been further from the truth.

This was not a small Agricultural Show, honoring local artichokes, but in fact France’s biggest music festival Les Vielles Charrues, a massive event that sees approximately 200,000 visitors crammed into the town for France’s equivalent of Glastonbury …….. and the boys had just cycled straight into the middle of it.

They had no idea of what was taking place, and in fact found themselves cycling so far into the middle of it that they had passed through the ticket barriers unchecked, and to be honest could have easily set up their tent and settled down to watch the sets that were scheduled that evening! 

All their ideas of stopping to top up with water went out of the window though when they cycled into the main street of the town. Rather than being the peacful little place, that they had expected, it was instead filled with very drunk revellers, who saw Andy and the boys on their bikes as a great target – As a result, as they tried to make their way through the hoardes, George had beer thrown over him, Tom was ‘touched’ and Andy had an empty crate of beer added to his already laden bike. 

How they managed to balance anything else on this amazes me …

This was clearly not the place to be & the intrepid 3 immediately beat a hasty retreat ……. well as hasty as they could manage as the Sat Nav decided (just at that moment) to stop working. It was a good job that they had packed all the maps they would need for the journey, so they could find their way out …..

I have to admit that one of the things that hadn’t been considered at all in the planning was whether any major events were taking place en route, but this one is well-worth avoiding!

Time to resort to a good old-fashioned map & Tom’s Ten Tors training!

The warm sunshine that had greeted them when they cycled off the ferry had continued, and by now (having missed their water stop) they were all slightly dehydrated, but thankfully still in one piece.

Once they had left Carhaix, they managed to make their way onto the cycle trail running alongside the Nantes-Brest Canal, and with that peace & tranquility returned to the ride- although Andy did the true ‘Daddy’ thing & left the boys in the shade, whilst he cycled off the trail to find water to stop them all becoming totally dehydrated – that’s love for you! 

After a few more miles they arrived at a camp site in the pretty village of Maël-Carhaix 

….. pitching their tent for the night under the shade of a tree near the lake. The fee for the 3 of them, tent & bikes a total of 6€ – incredible! 

Getting to grips with pitching the tent

So day 1 is done & tonight sees the boys having successfully pitched the tent for the first time, and they are now relaxing, sitting by the lake with a ‘snacky-tea’, chatting about what has turned out to be quite an eventful day. We always expected this to be a bit of an adventure, but I’m not sure I was expecting it to have quite such an interesting start…I’m just happy that they are able to find the funny side of this afternoon’s rather unexpected events……. 

On second thoughts though, they could just be telling me that & are in fact sneaking back to the festival as I type – in an effort to catch a glimpse of Pharrell Williams’ headline set later tonight! surely not?

For my part, I am just relieved the first day is done, that they and the bikes have survived their first big test and that they have arrived in sunshine, rather than having to set the tent up in the pouring rain. I may not be cycling, but I feel I am living this with them…. so off to bed now and let’s see what tomorrow will bring…

Surely it can’t be as eventful as today?

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