This should be brief, for a number of reasons. First, it’s currently a quarter to one in the morning, and I’m still not ready to sleep (although that’s more a state of mind rather than a state of physical fact), and I’m suffering from past meal stupor. Cycling does make you want to eat everything on the menu, including the desserts and the wine list, and not helped this evening by the jovial resturant owner wanting to help us on our way with an overly generous Calvados.
Today was likely to be tough, we knew that before we set out. Estimate of distance to St Nazaire was around 60 miles, but that seemed light. 75 seemed like a safe bet. Slightly hilly terrain, but in theory good roads. Well they might have been, but Google had other ideas. Relying on the GPS, I almost immediately steered us onto a poor quality road that deteriorated into farm track. Checking the maps suggested it was indeed a road and would join up with another village shortly, but it then deteriorated into a woodland trail. We jested as we stopped at a fork in the track, that there at least wasn’t a signposted with one way showing ‘immediate peril’ and the other showing ‘certain death’ (Jones even has a photo of me with iPhone in hand), but one lumping for the downhill route we were immediately presented with a gated bridge which was obviously the certain death option going by the delapidated state of it. Fortunately the gate was locked and that detered Jones from trying to cross. The other fork was obviously thte pil option, as it was steeply uphill and rutted, so that the bikes wouldn’t keep the front wheels on the deck so it was safer to walk. Fortunately it was soon on the flat and then back to a real, genuine road.
Jones the waxed lyrical over his ‘navigate by compass and sun’ technique being far superior to the technology, and immediately steered us down a road that came to a dead end. So a bit of backtracking, and then we were on our way again. We decided to stick with the slightly bigger roads after that – the locals obviously like having a joke with the cycle-tourists, mostly at our expense. We figured they wouldn’t have much change against all the vehicular traffic.
This was all well and good, but the day quickly turn into one of Tarmac watching as we got heads down to cover some miles. We got good speeds on many occasions, so much so that I can’t really tell you what the scenery was like. We did stop in Elven for lunch, partly because there was a street market and mostly because we were starving. We’d picked up provisions at the supermarket this morning, and had plenty of tucker to keep us going. That didn’t stop us buying a couple of mangos and what can best be described a gruel from the market. There was a stall (which means wide-boy selling from back of car) what was advertised as 100% beef to and authentic Bretagne recipe, but turned out to be mostly fat and what could best be described as bulls scrotum (but was probably other beef skin) all boiled up into a rather grey looking mess. This however looked particularly appetising to this particular hungry cyclist, so a portion was duely purchased and consumed. The mangos were particularly good, but with only a penknife and no plates of chopping boards, an especially messy experience worthy of a 3 year old with a choc ice.
The afternoon was a blur of roads and occasional stops for a second or third lunch, before we finally got to the seaside at 6pm. We found water at a place called Pornichet (no sniggering at the back) and lovely sandy beach and obligatory concrete jungle of hotels. We were too tired for a bit of totty watching, so slowly peddled in the direction of St Nazaire in the hope of a beer, water and accommodation. Jones was loosing the plot by this time due to lack of water, and I was getting fractious due to his inexplicable (at the time) failure to read any of the signs to ‘the beach’ where there was plenty of water, even if a little salty. A failed trip ino Lidl didn’t help matters, but once I was fully aware of his predicament I steered us successfully to a pleasant beach side bar who were happy to provide us with fresh, cool water and equally cool beers.
Next step was to find a place to sleep, and the first attempt was a failure, due to it being fully booked. Not helped by the owner telling us that everywhere in town would be booked, it being a public holiday. So we forlornly set off into the dock area of St Nazaire, and the first identifiable hotel was a Holiday Inn, which was pretty oasis like at this point. Jones went into reception and came back quickly with the same story, but fortunately the receptionist was making phone calls for us to find something. After half a dozen such calls, a night in the ditch was looking quite likely, but Mr Jones turned on the charm and suggested we’d look like, or in fact be, roadkill by the morning, and she said she’d let us have a room that was booked but not yet paid for. Godsend!
Washed and dressed, we set off in search of food, and found the jovial restauranteur who plied us with several courses with great satisfaction. And now to sleep, thanks very much!
Miles covered today: 82
About 205 overall, so at least satisfying to get past the double century. And now we are at the start of what we came here to do, Eurovelo 6 all the way to Switzerland.