Mini Cycle Tour in November
As you may have seen in my previous post, I have headed off France this week for a few days cycling. With the weather being unusually pleasant for this time of year, it was a perfect opportunity to clear away the cobwebs and chill out.
Arriving in the Port of St Malo late Sunday evening, I headed off to my hotel. I do normally like to camp (even in colder months), but some of the deals at this time of year, make hotels a good choice. At the end of a hard days riding, who doesn't like hot showers and comfy beds?!
Once checked in, I got my kit for the ride ready to go in the morning. Some final route planning before bed and I was ready.
Although only one hour difference in time, it still amazes me how tired you can feel in the morning! Pitch black at 7am, I dragged myself out of the comfort of my bed (maybe I should have camped - that always helps me to get up!). A quick walk down to the patisserie to pick up some great French pastries. My breakfast was set. A quick filter coffee using my new Jet Boil filter attachment, makes by far better coffee than the rubbish they leave in the room.
I left the hotel and headed for the train station, which was conveniently across the road from the hotel. Having cycled extensively in the St Malo area before, I had pre-booked a train ticket to take me to Rennes. A 40 minute journey through the beautiful Brittany countryside. I have to say the local French railways really cater for cyclists, with bicycle racks built into the carriages. It does frustrate me that the French SNCF (fast trains) don't offer such services. Forcing you to either take apart your bike and placing in a box, or only having a very limited number of bike spaces to book. Does frustrate me!
Rolling off the train in Rennes, I switched on my Garmin Touring to help navigate my way through this city. It was doing really well until just outside the city. I ended up on some muddy trails through a forest. As I was on my road bike, I was a little mindful of the terrain. I had some wider tyres with some tread, so I decided not to worry and just get on with it. It worked out really well. The paths were mostly well maintained and I was really getting into this mountain biking on a road bike. I had a good 5-10 miles like this and it brought back memories of my mountain biking days back in the UK. I did have a near death experience with a unruly dog that wanted to eat my leg, but I live to tell the tale!
Following on from my mountain biking, I headed back onto the roads, turned off the Garmin Navigation and went towards the town of Fougeres. Didn't quite make it to Fougeres and kind of bypassed it in the country lanes, which have me some awesome sights in what was amazing weather. I was riding in shorts and cycling top in November!
Next stop was the outskirts of Domfront. The area surrounding this town is miles and miles of forests, with absolutely no one around. It is always a joy to feel like the roads are there just for you. No cars near your back wheel. No aggressive drivers. Just great roads to cycle along and forget about the world for a few hours.
One of the best discovery's of the day, was after getting lost (again!), I found some old ruins. Closer inspection and I found it was an old Abbey from centuries ago. During the middle of summer, I guess this place would have been full of tourists. But today it was for me to wander around and enjoy. It was a great place to take a break and chill out. Shame I didn't have any beer!
With it starting to get dark, I pulled over and set up my lights. Was very glad to have my powerful Ay-Up lights with me. The back roads I rode on were so dark at times and I was pleased to have the comfort of being able to see everything, especially when you hear dogs running and barking at you! If ever there was a way to speed most cyclists up, it is the sound of a dog running and barking at you!
The final section of the ride was to take me past Mont-Saint-Michel. This beautiful Island is a maze of great buildings and history. Check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mont_Saint-Michel if you want to know more. I wanted to see what it look like by night and planned to cycle past. I didn't get as near as I wanted, but I still got to enjoy it's beauty for the few miles I was riding past. The distant lights made it shine brightly and made it worth the extra effort to cycle in this very windy area.
By this point, I was getting rather tired, so I stopped and stocked up on chocolate and some other remaining goodies. With about 30-35 miles back to St Malo and the comfort of my hotel, I switched on the Garmin navigation and got my head down for a good two hours or so cycling. The last 5 miles were just painful! But it was all worth it. I had a great day out, with brilliant weather and I had discovered so many new places that I'm sure I'll pass through again.
I write this post from my hotel room before I pop out for day 2 of my mini tour. I certainly won't be riding over 100 miles again, but it will be just as much fun.
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