Distance cycled …… 69.2 miles
So boys how would you sum up today in 3 words?…… Heat, Mileage, Flowers!
So yesterday certainly wasn’t the easiest of days for the boys, in fact it’s probably best to say that they’ve had a rather eventful first couple of days in France.
Yesterday’s major wheel-failure meant they had to spend two and a half hours waiting for the repair to be done, so they didn’t do as many miles as they were hoping for, but at least the bikes are still rolling today.
As ever they spent the evening chatting over the day’s events, whilst munching their well-earned Pizzas, and they had plenty to chat about.
They always say that hindsight is the perfect science, and after talking it through, they felt that if they were to do the same ride again they wouldn’t use the canal path unless they had mountain bikes as it was rutted and uneven in places, and they felt this had been a huge factor in the damage to the wheels.
They decided that, in future they would instead use the multi-use trail that runs from just outside Morlaix through to Mur de Bretagne – perhaps slightly better for bikes than the canal path itself, although if they had a problem on the multi-use trail, the canal-side bike repair Genie wouldn’t have been on hand to help!
Today started with more blue skies & after packing the tent up & reloading the bikes the boys headed back onto the trail along the Canal.
They have already got into a really good morning routine, with each having their own job, which means that they’re able to break camp, do the necessary shopping and repack the bikes much faster than they had thought possible.
After the bumps and jolts of yesterday, today started on a much more substantial & tarmaced trail, giving them a smoother ride, which was just what they needed. In fact Andy said the change happened almost exactly on the Departmental border between Finistere and Morbihan and the difference was dramatic.
They were soon passing pretty villages and settling back into their stride, managing a good 4mph faster than yesterday even though there was quite a headwind.
By late morning they had already cycled 30 miles, so took a break for a drink overlooking a particularly beautiful part of the Canal.
Whereas for a good part of yesterday’s ride the Canal was overgrown, today saw them cycling along open stretches of water, with passing boats to keep them entertained.
The lock-keeper’s cottages, which were dotted at regular intervals along the route, were beautifully-kept, with pretty gardens and their residents were readily on hand to help the boats navigate the locks.
The gardens at each of the cottages they passed were stunning, full of flowers, almost to the point that they wondered if there was a ‘Lock-Keeper’s Cottage in Bloom’ Competition!
As the day went on the heat increased, eventually hitting 38 degrees (according to the Garmin)! Certainly very different to the weather they had experienced during their training, and although they were enjoying riding in the sunshine, it was very draining, especially when they lost the shade of the trees.
At one point they thought Tom’s neck was starting to catch in the sun, despite the sun-cream that had been applied before leaving, and the last thing they needed was for one of them to get burnt. The only thing they could lay their hands in a hurry was the Factor 30 lip salve, they had in one of the front-carriers, so Tom was duly plastered with it, turning his neck white. It was only then that they realised he wasn’t actually burning, it was just the tinted lenses in their glasses that made it look that way!
With these high temperatures, I’m so relieved that they have sorted out how much water they need each day, and after the first day’s detour to find additional bottles, they are making sure they always carry enough with them. This means that they’re now starting each day carrying a total of 9 litres across the three bikes. It’s a lot of additional weight, on the bikes that are already heavily laden, but at least they are no longer getting dehydrated!
Because they are on the canal path, they don’t always pass through villages and towns, and have found that can’t be certain of finding cafés or restaurants to eat in at lunchtime, so have made sure that they’ve stocked up with food before they set off each morning. Carrying the extra food has needed some thought & again Tom has been practising with a variety of methods – although I’m not sure today’s gave the best results, as they ended up with a very flat and squashed baguette. Although it still tasted the same & I think at lunchtime they were almost too hungry to notice!
After lunch the lovely Tarmac trail continued for a while, before reverting to a rutted, rough dirt track, more akin to a Mountain Bike trail than a multi-purpose route, so the last 16 miles of the day was bone-shaking & teeth-rattling to say the least, increasing the anxiety that the wheels may not survive the day. It was such a shame after they had enjoyed such a great riding surface in the morning.
The rough tracks are certainly taking their toll on the bikes and the boys, both mentally & physically – especially Tom whose ‘repairing’ dislocated shoulder was slightly sore this evening, which is rather a worry. As such they’ve decided to look at the maps over supper tonight to see if they can find a quiet road route for tomorrow, just to give them all a break from the pot-holes.
So after 69.2 miles today they have pitched up at the Camping St Clair in Guenrouët 22€ for the night and have managed to string up a rudimentary washing line to dry their kit, which certainly needed a wash!
So after 3 and a half days in the saddle they have already cycled 375 kilometres, which to be honest, is quite a feat considering the weather, the trail conditions and the mechanical problems that they’ve been having.
So they’re relaxing tonight, with a glass of Breton cider & a nice meal out- deservedly so I think too!