Velodyssey Day 2 Maël-Carhaix to Rohan

Distance cycled ……. 58.6 miles

So boys how would you sum up today in 3 words? ….. Tranquility, Breakdown, Genie!

Well after a really good first day’s cycle, with just a rather large music Festival adding interest to the day’s ride, the boys settled down and after putting the tent up, tell me that they spent a lovely evening on the nice little camp site they had found by the lake.

Perfect shady spot on a quiet site

During their evening chat, they decided that the biggest lesson they had learned after the first day, was to make sure that in future they always carry enough water with them. It would be ideal to know that there would be places where they could top up their bottles every few miles, but we hadn’t been able to find that sort of information during the planning.

So they started to chat about how best to carry the water they would need, espacially if it was as warm as it had been yesterday, and as ever some rather bizarre ideas were suggested & tried out

A novel idea, but for some reason I don’t think it will catch on!

In the end though, they settled for the normal approach of putting the ‘extra bottles on the rack’, which was undoubtedly much more sensible, but at the same time, much less fun too.

Happily they were quite some distance away from the Rock Festival so not only did they not sneak back, but they weren’t close enough to hear the distant thump of the bass either, so the only thing left to disturb them was the birds! Although I think after the excitement and occasional stress of the first day, they were so tired, that sleep wasn’t going to be a problem.

Although this would be the first time they would sleep together in the tent ….. 3 blokes, 1 tent, what could possibly go wrong? 

I must admit I had visions of fallings out over snoring, sleep-talking & all matter of other things, but apparently the only reported issue was one of the boys grumbling at the other two as he was gently pushed back into place, after stretching out across them during his deepest sleep. It could have been a lot worse.

The main thing was that they all woke this morning, after having had a good night’s sleep & set about packing the tent up & re-packing the bikes, getting underway and back out onto the cinder trail, running alongside the canal again by 9 am.

Cycling on again this morning

Having looked at the map before setting off again, they had noticed that the Canal takes a huge loop on its way to Rostronen, which could be avoided by taking a small lane, cutting across the loop to rejoin it further on. Sometimes it’s easy to just be blinkered, by following the signs, when there are easier routes or even landmarks to be found nearby. Even though the maps took up quite a bit of space in the panniers and added a bit of weight, the boys were already pleased that they had brought them along.

The beautifully natural paradise that is the Nantes-Brest canal

Before long, after this short diversion, they were back following the Canal, surrounded by just the sound of birds & enjoying the beauty & shade of cycling along the cycle route, passing pretty lock-keeper’s cottages as they rode. To be honest it was quite easy going, although the path was uneven, and they soon settled into a rhythm, which saw the kilometres tick by……

They made good progress during the morning and were at the Mur de Bretagne by midday, where although there was a bit of a hill on the way into the town, thankfully they didn’t have to do the nasty 2km climb that regularly features in the Tour de France – that certainly wouldn’t have been an easy end to the morning, especially carrying all the kit. 

As it was, they continued on, and found a peaceful & pretty spot for lunch just 10km from Pontivy, taking the chance to have a rest before they had to head on again into the heat of the afternoon. It was already starting to feel that they had left the rain clouds over England, as today was another day of blue skies and sunshine, really helping to show Brittany at its very best.

A perfect picnic spot for lunch

Unfortunately they were starting to enjoy the ride a little too much, and shortly after lunch a huge, and potentially trip-ending spanner got thrown in the works. As they set off again along the bumpy path, Tom noticed a strange noise coming from his back wheel, a strange ‘tinking’ sound that hadn’t been there before. Their first thought was that something had shifted on the pannier rack and was rubbing against it, but on closer inspection they found that the noise was a result of all the spokes having come loose, totally de-stabilising the wheel. On a quick check of the other bikes they found that Andy had a snapped spoke in his rear wheel too! 

At this point the boys were on the canal path, effectively in the middle of nowhere, certainly some distance from either the previous, or next big town, where they may find something that could help them repair the bikes, even if they could make it that far. But what could they do?

They couldn’t just sit where they were and hope for the ‘magic fairies’ to appear from thin air, and mend the spokes. They had no choice but to press on, keeping literally everything crossed that they could make it to somewhere, where they would be able to get assistance, all the time knowing that there was a really good chance that the wheel could fail totally, so as you can imagine Andy was really very worried. 

But, just as the weather-gods were smiling on them yesterday, the bike-maintenance gods were smiling on them today and literally just around the next corner (and they reinforced to me that it was literally the next corner), they came across a chap running a bike repair  business from a trailer at the side of the trail!

Sometimes someone just happens to be in the right place at the right time!

To say the boys couldn’t believe their luck is an understatement- I think at first they thought it could have been a mirage, the equivalent of an oasis of water shimmering in the sands of the desert, seen by someone parched after losing their way in the dunes.

Or perhaps an apparition brought on by something they had eaten at lunch, in the way that Scrooge considers the ghosts that appear to him, as being induced by eating a morsel of cheese.

I like to think he is like the man who always used to appear ‘As if by magic!’ in the 1970s children’s TV series, ‘Mr Benn’. Or perhaps that the ‘magic fairies’ do exist and felt sorry for the boys, wanting to do what they could to make sure that their adventure continued.

Tom though is convinced he’s a Genie, who simply appears from the kettle he had by his stall, whenever there is someone in need –

The Genie at work on Tom’s wheel

Whatever the case, it doesn’t really matter, as the timing of his appearance just couldn’t have been better, and he immediately got to work on the bikes, carrying out the repairs, using old bits he managed to reclaim from rusted wheels and bikes he had in a trailer nearby.

Two and a half hours later, after also having also made the boys drinks, he handed the mended bikes back, reassuring them as much as he could, that the bikes were very capable of doing the trip , carrying the load that had been packed. He couldn’t explain why the spokes had broken as they had, but the main thing was that he had fixed them and a potential disaster had been averted.

Apparently there all summer – worth remembering if your bike has a niggle or a nightmare

From the conversation they had with him during that time, they found out that he isn’t an apparition, but just sets his workshop up at the side of the trail by the village of Saint-Gerand for the entire summer, dealing with any problems that people may have. He really couldn’t have been better placed today & made sure that the boys were able to get back on their bikes and cycling again – the total cost a paltry 45€ ! 

Tom relaxing & watching the Genie at work!

After that, although now a little more nervous than they had been, and quieter too, with their ears straining to hear anything out of the ordinary, they cycled on again. After stopping for well over 2 hours they rearranged their plans and continued along the trail, as far as the pretty village of Rohan, pulling onto the Camping Le Val D’Oust, paying just €13.90 for the night

I think it would be fair to say that they have never been more relieved to reach the end of the day’s ride, and we’re only really 2 days in. So after catching their breath, and pitching the tent, they headed just up the road for a much needed Pizza! 

To be honest, if you had told me beforehand that they would have had such a range of problems in the first the two days, I would have told you to stop being so pessimistic…….. But as Tom says ‘It’s an adventure and these things happen’ .

I suppose the big thing to take from today is that they have had a major problem and have managed to deal with it, albeit with the help of a ‘Bike Genie’. Their bikes are still rolling, and the old, reclaimed spokes seem to be doing their job at the moment, which has to be positive.

I think though that it will have really knocked their confidence, especially Andy who feels responsible for getting the boys through this adventure, and I know he will be really worried now about the days to come, and it will undoubtedly take him some time to be able to relax into the ride again.

As the boys tuck into their pizza tonight, I suppose all I can say is that I hope tomorrow is just a nice cycle along the canal, where they can just enjoy the peace, quiet and pretty views….

But the way things are going we’ll just have to wait & see! 

Tomorrow I’m hoping just to write a but if a travelogue with lots of nice photos like this one!

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