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French Cycle Trip 2014 Fougeres to Beauvoir (Mont-St-Michel) and then on to St-Malo

FOUGERES TO BEAUVOIR (MONT-ST-MICHEL)

FOUGERES TO BEAUVOIR (MONT-ST-MICHEL)

Elevation FOUGERES TO BEAUVOIR (MONT-ST-MICHEL)

Elevation FOUGERES TO BEAUVOIR (MONT-ST-MICHEL)

After eventually finding our way out of Fougeres – that always seems to be the hardest part, finding your way out of big towns or cities – the ride to Mont St Michel was fairly uneventful.

The Pedalling Photographer on his way to Mont St Michel!

The Pedalling Photographer on his way to Mont St Michel!

However, at the end of the day, due to it being the height of the holiday season, trying to find a campsite that wasn’t full in this tourist hotspot by the coast proved difficult. Eventually, we struck it lucky at a campsite that was full but we were allowed to camp on a handkerchief-size spot of lawn next to a children’s play area. The only trouble was that there were already half a dozen tents on there anyway! Still, beggars can’t be choosers and it was only for the one night.

Mont-St-Michel

Mont-St-Michel

The following morning we woke to heavy rain. We packed up and then sat in the campsite cafe drinking coffee and waiting for the rain to ease. Unfortunately, we weren’t that lucky, so had to set off fully togged up in our waterproofs. And to add to the rain, the wind was beginning to build up. Little did we know that we were about to catch the tail end of Hurricane Bertha!

BEAUVOIR (MONT-ST-MICHEL) TO ST-MALO

BEAUVOIR (MONT-ST-MICHEL) TO ST-MALO

Elevation BEAUVOIR (MONT-ST-MICHEL) TO ST-MALO

Elevation BEAUVOIR (MONT-ST-MICHEL) TO ST-MALO

We battled on, sweating it out in our waterproofs. Eventually, the rain stopped, but by now the wind was gusting strongly and blowing us about on our bikes. It was a head-on wind most of the time, making progress very slow, but at least the sun was shining! We made our way around the Baie du Mont St Michel and came across some land yachts  at Hirel making the most of the strong winds and scooting across the sand of the bay.

Land Yachting, just off the D155 at Hirel on the Brittany Coast

Land Yachting, just off the D155 at Hirel on the Brittany Coast

We spent our final evening at the campsite in St Malo, watching the sun set on the horizon before getting up early to catch the ferry back to Poole and home.

Setting sun Saint-Malo

Setting sun Saint-Malo

Saint-Malo old town

Saint-Malo old town

 

 


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A mini adventure to test out our Brompton bikes

We spent a few weeks trying to decide where to go to test out the Bromptons for cycle touring. A seed had been sown when I was following Nick Crane’s tweets about his cycle trip with his son along the NCN 4 out of London, along the Kennet and Avon Canal to Bath and onwards to Devon. ‘Sounds like a good idea’, I said to Chris, ‘why don’t we give it a try but avoid the London bit?’ So a plan was hatched.

Being of a certain age, we were able to apply for a Senior Railcard – I suppose there are one or two perks to being over 60 :o( – and purchasing them with our double-value Tesco rewards made them even more of a bargain. We booked a ticket from Poole to Reading and set about revising our packing routine for travelling with the Bromptons.

We had bought a T bag for the front of each bike – these bags take approx. 31 litres and are equivalent to about 1.5 panniers – but were not quite sure what to do about rear bags. The Brompton rack sack has a capacity of 16 litres and is purpose built to fit the rear rack, but we weren’t sure if it was going to be big enough. As far as we could see, the only alternatives were to lay a pannier flat on the rack and attach it securely to the rack (see http://www.shanecycles.com/the-genius-of-brompton-touring/) or fix a rucksack in an upright position by attaching it to the saddle and securing it to the rear rack to prevent movement (see Pathlesspedaled http://youtu.be/4c76T3g5wwY). Our pannier seemed to have quite a bit of overhang off the back of the rack, which concerned us a little, and we weren’t too sure that a rucksack would remain securely fixed to the bike. In the end, we decided to go for the Brompton rack sack, as it would make us try to lighten our load, which is never a bad thing! The weight limit for luggage on a Brompton bike is 10 kg each on the front and rear. By the time we had added two bottles of water, we were both about at the limit on the front. On the back, I had a couple of kg to spare, while Chris had about 5 kg spare.

We managed to get all of the essentials in, but it was a squeeze! Of the three items of luxury we allow ourselves – a Thermarest pillow (essential for a good night’s sleep, light but bulky), our Helinox lightweight chairs (the old bones start to creak when sitting on the ground) and a book to read (it is supposed to be a holiday, after all!) – we could only manage to fit in the pillows. Then a moment of inspiration! Usually not one for attaching things to the outside of bags, it occurred to me that the Helinox chairs could be easily bungeed to the rear rack on top of the rack sack. Brilliant! Chris had to forgo her book (I have a Kindle but she doesn’t yet – says she loves the feel of a book in her hands), but said, wryly, that she was looking forward to some scintillating conversation instead! I detected a hint of sarcasm here!

The only other items that space would not permit were our sandals (and boy did we need them as we caught the start of the heatwave weather halfway through our trip!) and food provisions. Chris is only happy if she has a couple of days’ supply of food with her. I’m trying to break her of this habit by telling her that there’s always a little shop somewhere nearby and, failing that, a pub offering some sort of food (oh, and the obligatory pint or two of real ale!).

We may look again at the packing options for the rear of the bikes but, for now, we were ready for the off!

More posts on the trip to follow…

Train tickets and National Cycle Network (NCN) map

Train tickets and National Cycle Network (NCN) map

Early start at Poole train station

Early start at Poole train station

Gear and bikes loaded on to train

Gear and bikes loaded on to train