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Craig's Musings

Benidorm 24 Day 2-4

Coffee in St Malo

I was hoping to post once a day, but the time each day is zooming past. I can’t believe I’ve already done three days in France!

They were also long ones. The trip from St. Malo began how I’d expected, trundling off the ferry and turning left instead of right to check out the town and grab un café.

I’m not sure why, but I expected this was how the trip would go. At the end of Day Four, it’s not quite worked out that way. Food has been an issue. Strava has delivered me some lovely routes, but very few that go through busy towns. Not that anything was open on Sunday. It seems that every small town or village doesn’t have a shop, just a church the size of St. Paul’s Cathedral!

My first French day to Rennes was uneventful after the coffee, apart from a new twinge to my left knee (welcome aboard my friend) and a worrying noise from Terence’s undercarriage. By lunch, and disillusioned with road trudging of the morning, I pondered what Google might think over a baguette at a small Tabac in Tinténiac. It’s suggestion, translated, was bugger those roads, Craigy-boy, let’s go down the canal.

It was 14km longer but so much more enjoyable and led me to the edge of Rennes. The evening was cool but okay, and setting up the tent for the first time went well; much better than the woman next to me who spent around an hour trying, before I offered to help. Perhaps it was our lack of a common language, but she’d didn’t get annoyed with me trying to Mansplain – she was genuinely just happy for the help. 

The only problem with a campsite is, it tends not to be near to anything so I ended up walking around a mile and a half to a small shop to get some supplies for the evening. At around eight, it was starting to get a bit cold so I snuggled up in my tent, stuck the football on my phone radio and dozed. It was heaven.

But, by ten, I was starting to get cold. I tried to sleep but it was a very restless night where it just seemed to get colder and colder. I had to put my trousers and coat on, along with more socks, but I was glad when the morning came and it was all over. When I opened the tent, it actually had ice on it. It had apparently been -3ºc.

What made matters worse, was when I set up my gas cooker to make a coffee and I realised I’d brought everything but the dripper. I couldn’t even wake myself up with caffeine.

It took me a lot longer that I expected to pack up and leave and I didn’t head off until 9.30. The tent was wet and heavy as I headed off around the outskirts of Rennes, my legs stiff and my knee reminding me that I’m not used to doing this kind of thing.

The whole day would end up feeling like this. Day three was my Nemesis last time on a ride like this, and this one didn’t disappoint. It was a bit shit. It was hard, and it went on for ever, not helped by the fact it was Sunday and nowhere was open. Eventually I arrived in Châteaubriant and headed for the massive church, because of course there was one. Ah ha! A brasserie! Thank god for that!

I parked Terence up and got over my English shyness and went in. Now you know when you see a building and it looks like a nice restaurant from the outside but when you open the door it’s not quite the same. Well Bonjour to that!

In my broken French if they had any ‘mangé’. He caught my drift by replying, non. Great. Five hours cycling and no food. “Anywhere near to eat? Get food?” I asked. He understood and started thinking. I think that’s what he was doing. Perhaps he was a one-trick-pony, but his response was, you’ve guessed it, non.

I’d have to make it another 30 miles with no food. I stayed for a coffee and munched another tracker bar from my stash ready for the tortuous next leg.

Five minutes later, heading out of the town, I passed a huge Burger King and McDonalds. I say passed, of course I didn’t. I stopped for a Burger Provencale (which turned out to be goat), fries and coke. A hungry cyclists dream meal.

This helped me along the rest of the way, but I was not feeling great. Three bad nights of sleep and I decided a hotel was in order. The hours and kilometres dragged but I eventually landed in Ancenis and booked into the IBIS to enjoy a hot shower and a nice bed, with a walk down to the river for a beer and saucisson to finish the day.

I slept like a dog and woke up really tired for day four. But after a big breakfast (and some smuggled lunch) I set off.

I’d adjusted my route the night before so would be heading in a different direction, down the banks of the Loire towards Nantes before heading south to La Roche-sur-Yon.

I’d opted for another hotel that night and this seemed a good option, closer to my destination the following day and flatter if I were to believe Strava and Google. 425m climbing, which turned into 1000m when I put it on my Garmin. Thank the Lord, Garmin was wrong.

After the misery of Day Three, Day Four was a joy. The sun started shining, the ride was flat and pretty and the roads and cycle paths were the stuff of an English peddlars dreams.

I took a small detour to a Hyper Market to look for a dripper, but couldn’t find one. I bought a small, cheap funnel to improvise when then time came. Then it was back on the road. Bit of a bugger that I forgot to restart my bike computer, so it didn’t track 20km, but there was not a cat’s chance in hell I was going back to record it.

But I was loving the ride and stopped for a spot of lunch around 2. I say lunch, I downed the coke and biscuits I have bought from the hypermarket because I’d not passed one shop.

It was then I thought to book a hotel. Two locations had not come back to me about my question of if they could house the bike. Stuff like that worries me and I like to be prepared. 

I found one hotel I liked the look of and decided to phone. The ring was foreign and then a man answered to welcome me. In the best French I could muster I said, “Bonjour. Excusez-moi. Parlez vous Anglaise?” Pretty good I thought.

“No. Au Revoir”.

Wow.

So I headed for an IBIS again. Although tonight’s one is a IBIS budget (I didn’t realise they had different classes of hotels). The room is big enough for me and Terence and the lady at the reception was lovely and put me in a room near the entrance.

It’s okay, and will do the job, but it feels a little like a prison cell and there is a dog barking away in the room a few doors down. Beats an ice cold tent though.

 

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