Let the cycling begin!

Saturday 13th May

Day One

Roscoff to Morlaix


2hr 20min

The plan was to wake at 0700 for a prompt depart from Roscoff Ferry Terminal at 0900. I was wide-awake at 0530 going through the preparations I needed to make when I got up. This proved so stimulating that the next thing I noticed was that it was 0740 and that cuckoo had followed us from Le MSM!

As a result (and because of lots of little procrastinations I managed to make along the way) our gallant hero (me) brushed a small tear from his wife’s cheek and pushed off up the hill heading south at 1020.

Roscoff Ferry Terminal was as uninspiring as it had been yesterday, no marching bands, no crowds of well wishers, not even any waiting passengers as the next ferry was not due to leave until this evening. What we did see was that there was a regular sailing to Bilbao. Perhaps I could cut out all the hard work by taking the ferry to Bilbao and then cycling back to Hendaye Wendy suggested. I was wise to this one! I had a read an account of a couple who had taken the ferry from Plymouth to Bilbao and cycled from there to Hendaye and then completed the Velodyssee in reverse. They said that the hills from Bilbao to Hendaye were the worst part of the trip – and they were proper cyclists.

One of the many facets of cycle touring I had carefully avoided practicing was cycling with any load. The last time I cycled seriously in 2012 I used to put everything in a rucksack; now I was equipped with a proper rack bag and pannier. As I pedalled off from our tender farewell, I elegantly pushed down with my left foot as I swung my right leg over the saddle pretty much in the same effortless manner as Clint Eastwood mounts his horse in a Fistful of Dollars. I had forgotten about the rack bag. I couldn’t get my leg over! My right foot hit the bag and the unaccustomed weight of two litres of water in the right pannier almost brought me crashing to the ground – more Frank Spencer than Clint. Following a hasty reorganisation of my spares, tools and supplies and gingerly stepping over the frame first I finally made my way out of the port.

The Velodyssee, apart from being France’s longest cycle route, prides itself on being well signposted along its whole length. It’s true the route was clearly marked everywhere, apart from when it wasn’t. These black spots also seemed to coincide with my GPS recalculating and the screen going blank with the effort. I also had not considered taking a map. As a result the 30kms planned for became 34 and that included finishing a little short of the town centre to meet up with Wendy. Some of you who are sadly lacking a classical education, or access to Google Translate will have wondered why this blog is called semper deinceps. Semper deinceps is roughly always onward or ever forward. As well as being a great motto for our retirement it also reflects my attitude to navigation. Like most men, I have a pathological hatred of having to retrace my steps. If I have taken a wrong turning well keep going and see if we can put it right later. Maximum points to Lisa Burman who spotted the meaning. After today’s outing it is clear that the Garmin Edge 1000 was made by a man as it takes a similar attitude to navigation. When I strayed off route, rather than taking me back to my mistake the little black box went blank while it took six or seven minutes to replot the entire route from Roscoff to Nantes. Leaving me with no option but to carry on regardless! As a result the track of my journey looks as if I have tacked from Roscoff to Morlaix.

Careful readers of this blog will remember that yesterday we made a quick visit to Morlaix Decathlon en route to Roscoff. This was because there are no campsites in Morlaix and Wendy wanted a place to meet me that she would be able to find easily. I had spotted that Decathlon lay fairly close to the Velodyssee route and they usually have big car parks and the Morlaix branch was an excellent example of its type. It was even programmed into the sat nav just in case Wendy could not spot the big blue logos from the Roscoff Road.

Anyway, enough about that; what you really want to hear about is the cycling. The countryside around here is as hilly as Cornwall with lots of steep sided valleys, the wind was fresh and from the south so it was always on the nose. 34kms is the furthest I have cycled in five years. As a result, when I arrived at Decathlon, if my tongue had not been glued to the roof of my mouth, I would have told Wendy she was the most beautiful woman in the world! After five minutes rest, a drink and an energy bar I was back to normal.

Meeting at Decathlon was fortuitous as I could pop in and buy some more bidons (what us cyclists call our water bottles), a map and some anti frottement cream – Google it, this is a family blog!

One thing we have focussed on in preparing for this trip is where to camp, we have got books, websites and apps of campsites coming out of our ears. However for all of them Morlaix is a hopeless blank, a desert of hospitality of the camping kind. The best suggestion they had was to return to Roscoff. Semper deinceps! Remember Silves Lisa? There had to be a better solution and so a big shout out to Google Maps (other search engines are available) who came up with La Ferme de Croas Men. This is a charming campsite east of Morlaix that looks as if it was the prototype for the ‘Yummy Mummies Book of Glamping’. Wendy has kindly given the owner a few tips for improving his bunting. It’s very laid back too – as we arrived the owner strolled past and said just find somewhere and call into reception this evening.

So just under 1/40th  of the journey completed. We are off to Carhaix in the morning (well by mid afternoon).

2 thoughts on “Let the cycling begin!

  1. In the words of the old Scottish singer “There’s a long trail a winding to the land of my dreams” or should I say “Keep right on to the end of the road”
    Following you all the way and reminding us of many times spent in northern France. A printed copy handed to our member in Clive..


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