Day 2: St Malo to Heric

After a day on the Brittany ferry dinner was devoured, and it was excellent. A quiet crossing was then rudely interrupted by a 6:45am (5:45am in UK time) know I at the door when breakfast was delivered to our cabin.

The start from St Malo was slow. Under leaden skies, we searched for an ATM and then a coffee, both searches taking longer than they should, and we finally got to edge to the city around 10am. Then the confusion started. Navigating by Google Maps took us straight toward a main road with a no-entry sign for bicycles despite the fact that we were on the recommended route for bikes. Richard had the Michelin map guide on his iPhone, so we switched to that and used it most of the time but throughout the day were sent down blind alleys and lost a fair amount of time.

As we headed south in the general direction of Nantes, it remained chilly and cloudy but most of the roads were reasonably quiet. We stopped at a roadside bar where four excellent coffees and a large bottle of water cost 6.70 Euro. I thought back to San Francisco where that would probably have been the tip. Rural France still offers great value, even after the pound’s recent devaluation.

Once again birdsong accompanied the journey. Chaffinches are everywhere, as are buzzards, I also spotted a wren, a kestrel and most cheering of all, a solitary swallow, a sure sign that summer is not so far away.

We cycled through the city of Rennes where, at least on our route, there was nothing to recommend the place. It’s an architectural desert full of concrete blocks of apartments and walls covered in graffiti. Both navigation systems seemed to want to take us onto a motorway and in the end we gave up, ingnored the no-entry sign and within about 400 metres joined a cycle lane.

The terrain considered of long, straight Roman roads and rolling hills. By the 60 mile point, we were both tired and Richard questioned the sanity of our 100 miles-per-day target. Then he had a puncture. We fixed it quickly and pushed on.

Coffee time – our first break of the day about 25 miles into the ride

Despite a weather forecast of rain, we didn’t get any. That was relief and we started to make better progress on quiet roads where we’d sometimes not see a car for miles. The sun came out and we were treated to a beautiful spring evening. Our pace quickened and as we approached our 100-mile target at around 6:45pm, we stopped and used our phones to find somewhere to stay. Due to a bit of finger trouble with booking.com, I booked a hotel that I thought was two miles away but turned out to be 14 miles south. At least is was on our route.

Richard getting into his stride – traffic not posing much of a problem

After only a few more misdirections from the navigation system, we rolled up to the Logis L’Abreuvoir hotel in Heric, to the east of Nantes, at 8:40pm. It was quiet, with two couples in the restaurant. We had a great dinner accompanied by copious drinks, and slept like babies, with the exception of the snoring!

A just reward after our first century ride of the trip

With 108.5 miles under our belts, we had eaten into our target deficit of 13 miles from the first day – it was only 87 miles to Portsmouth. Our third day’s riding should see us back on track.

About Bob Jones

Cycling enthusiast living in Wiltshire, England.
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