Mini tour of Brittany day 1 – Roscoff to Camaret-sûr-Mer

I am writing this blog from the road! This weekend I am over in France, doing my own little solo cycling tour.

I’ve done a couple of trips with Graeme in previous years, cycling the Petit Tour de Manche from Cherbourg to Roscoff. We’ve always had absolutely awesome weather so it was a bit of a grim surprise when I woke up on the ferry this morning to find the land smothered in fog. How am I going to get these tan-lines sharp if the sun doesn’t come out?

At the Chateau de Kerjean

Still, with a hotel booked over 100km away, there wasn’t much I could do but get on with it. To be honest, the first 20 km or so were fairly non-descript, on busy stretches of road through unremarkable countryside and the skies not being able to quite decide whether to rain or not. Things got a bit more interesting when I passed the Château de Kerjean and then found myself being serenaded by fighter jets from the nearby Air Force base. I was making really good time and I was soon enjoying the climb up to La Roche Maurice, which Graeme and I visited a couple of years ago. None of the cafés around the little square had their tables and chairs out, so I pushed on and instead sat in the sun a bit further on in the medieval town of Landerneau. All was well with the world; I was making excellent time, my legs felt good and even the weather seemed to be improving. At last, at Le Faou, I found some cafes with tables outside, and sat in the sun for a well-earned first beer of the trip.

In the rain at Pont de Terenez

A few miles on I was approaching the Pont de Terenez, which is the bridge that connects the Crozon Peninsula to the rest of Brittany. There had been a couple of little patches of drizzle on the way but nothing major. I stopped to take a couple of photos of the bridge and as I did it started to properly come down. Not just drizzle but proper big lumps of stinging rain, rain that feels like it’s out to get you. I scurried over the bridge and started to climb up through the woods on the other side, but it didn’t relent. It had hit me at the worst possible point, on a stretch of road where the were no towns or villages or even isolated cafes to take shelter in. It was just me and the bike and the bloody weather. Eventually I found a little local cider producer who had a bar, so I hid away in there for a little while. But outside the weather didn’t improve, and I was shivering as soon as I got outside again.

At this point I had about 50 km to do on my planned route, but being unsure of my fitness I had worked out a shortcut it would reduce that to 20. It was tempting to cut my losses and just head straight to the hotel.I stuck my bottom jaw out and decided I was all in, I was doing the full route. The grey gloom and drizzle took the edge off most of the views; the islands that this part of the coast is famous for were ethereal shadows are best. I definitely wasn’t seeing the best of it. But the cycling itself is fantastic, rolling road on good tarmac, the climb was just about challenging enough, the descents full of bends and twists. It was a lot of fun, and eventually the road rose one final time to take me to the Pointe des Espagnols, the northernmost point of the peninsula.

Looking towards Brest through the gloom.

Here, looking out into the Rade de Brest, I felt the weather subtly change. It wasn’t raining any more and looking to the south there seemed to be an end to the cloud. Was that a patch of dappled sunlight? Prematurely perhaps I packed away my waterproof jacket, dosed up on sweets, got my sunnies out and told myself I was going to enjoy this.

Oh and I did. As I went along, so the Sun tried harder and harder to come out until I started to actually feel it’s warmth on my skin as I tore along. I rode the last few kilometres in a weird sense of exaltation: I had done 130 km without any major problems, I was nearly in sight of a beer and at least the Sun was properly shining! What more could I want from the world?

I rode into Camaret feeling like I’d just won a stage of the Tour. Amazing what a bit of sunshine can do!

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