Saturday, June 7, 2014

Brittany Rain Tour 2014 - Recap

Last week, I cycled about 340 km in Brittany France, starting from Brest in the west, and ending in the border between Brittany and Lower Normandy, visiting the Mont Saint-Michel.  I anticipated and prepared for a week full of rain, hence the tour name "Brittany Rain Tour 2014", but throughout the week, I only received a few drops.  I guess the Celtic sun god Belenos was with me.

As with previous tours, it was enjoyable to be out in the countryside and forget my e-mails for a week!



This is the path I took, as recorded by my GPS:

Brittany Rain Tour 2014 - Entire trip

You can see an interactive map of the entire trip here.

These are the daily steps of the tour.  Click on each map to see the the track in an interactive map with stats:

Day 1: Brest - Landerneau
Day 2: Landerneau - Morlaix
Day 3: Morlaix - Lannion
Day 4: Lannion - Guingamp
Day 5: Guingamp - Saint-Brieuc
Day 6: Saint-Brieuc - Pléven
Day 7: Pléven - Saint-Malo
Day 8: Saint-Malo - Pontorson


Blog posts

If you missed the daily commentaries and photos, you can catch up by following these links:


None of my blogs would be complete without a table or charts.

The following table shows the distance traveled each day, the time I was outside each day, the average speed (includes breaks) and average moving speed (only includes when I was cycling or walking).

Day Tour step Distance (km) Time Average speed (km/h) Average moving speed (km/h)
Day 1 Brest – Landerneau 26.49 03:01:20 8.8 11.7
Day 2 Landerneau – Morlaix 44.10 05:50:36 7.5 12
Day 3 Morlaix – Lannion 42.34 04:39:46 9.1 13
Day 4 Lannion – Guingamp 44.82 04:48:58 9.3 14.4
Day 5 Guingamp – Saint-Brieuc 45.69 04:53:38 9.3 14.3
Day 6 Saint-Brieuc – Pléven 39.12 03:13:31 12.1 16.3
Day 7 Pléven – Saint-Malo 49.84 04:25:17 11.3 14.8
Day 8 Saint-Malo – Pontorson 50.06 05:56:20 8.4 14.6

42.81 04:36:11 9.3 13.9

Since I traveled more lightly on this tour than previous tours,  perhaps because I had a real bike pump to inflate my tires to maximum recommended pressure, and probably because I paced myself better this time, compared to other tours, my average moving speed was about 14 km/h.

My previous tours, in comparison:
After I accumulate a few more tours, I'll include a graph of this data.

As for this trip, I took it easy this time, only cycling about 45 km per day, compared to 60 or 65 on previous trips.

Fun stats

  • This tour was:
    • about the distance walked by backpackers to create this HD time-lapse video of Yosemite National Park.
    • a bit longer than the distance of the "Total 200", a route covered by crazy cyclists in one day (miles version), which will take place next weekend.
    • just longer than the distance of the "Tahoe 200", a running race around lake Tahoe this fall which must be completed in 100 hours (just over 4 days).
    • about the distance from Long Beach to San Diego and back.
    • the distance Indian man Mani Manithan walked backwards, naked, to promote peace.
    • the distance blind Australian Liam Haven walked from Sydney to Canberra, for which he was awarded the Guide Dogs Victoria's Freedom Award.
  • The tour was about 24 hours and 43 minutes of cycling time.  Depending on the source, this corresponds to between 5100 - 8000 calories burned during cycling.  This equals:
    • 10 to 15.7 French Big Macs (or 9.2 to 14.5 American Big Macs).
    • 108 to 170 McNuggets
    • 453 to 711 Life Saver candies
    • almost my body weight in celery


When I was on the road, I couldn't include videos in this blog.  Now that I'm at home, with a real computer, I can finally edit this blog normally.  Here's a video of some cows eating (very exciting!):

And the sun and clouds each day of the trip:


That's it!  Thanks to the people who followed along and commented.  Where will the next tour be.....?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Brittany Rain Tour 2014 - Day 9

This morning, during breakfast at the hotel, I took a picture of my orange juice. Why? Well, I've noticed that in all the hotels where I've had breakfast, it's always a self serve buffet, and the plates and glasses are abnormally small, in some cases ridiculously small. I'm sure it's a psychological trick to make you take less food. It doesn't work on me though. If I know I'm going to be cycling for 4 or 6 hours, I eat accordingly. :-) But today,the glass for the orange juice was almost as small as a shot glass,so I had to take a picture. I think I got up to refill it five times. 

Today I visited the Mont Saint Michel. I was able to bike up to a parking lot which is about a 40 minute walk to the island, and leave my bags in a locker while I visited the site.

My first impression was that there wasn't much there besides restaurants and cheap souvenir shops. I had lunch in one of the restaurants there: I ordered moules frites. Afterwards, I bought a galette Bretonne from one of the shops: a huge cookie. I also bought a pin of the Breton flag, which I've put on my backpack to remind me of this trip.

On the road today, I saw:

* sheep

* horses

* tour bikes parked with all their gear left on the bike (I think we're still not in Paris anymore, Toto) 

* A family cycling on the same path as I. 

* A group of bike tourists at the train station

* cow sculptures which were not scary at all

* road signs warning about cyclists

* absolutely no grocery store open when I had two hours to wait for the train and wanted to buy a snack to munch on. 

So, while today has been a sad end to my trip, the rest of the trip was a perfect cycling trip: beautiful scenery, great cycling weather, conversations with cows, a visit with co-workers, not too difficult routes and distances. On my paper map (which is now "done"), I see there are some long distance cycling routes running North /South. Maybe I'll come back to Brittany for another "Rain Tour" some day!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Brittany Rain Tour 2014 - Day 8

Today I cycled 50km from Saint Malo to Pontorson. Only sun and blue skies today.

This morning I cycled on a bike path along the beach, passing through Saint Benoît des Ondes. I sent a message to Benoît to tell him I was in his city. He told me I had just unlocked the achievement of chatting with Benoît while in Benoît. At noon, I headed on to Mont Dol and Dol de Bretagne, following the advice of the hotel owner at Pléven. I had lunch at Dol de Bretagne: tagliatelle bolognaise and a crêpe for desert. I'm starting to get used to having crêpes every day now.

This afternoon was a cow afternoon. Because of a blocked road about 10km from Pontorson, I had to take a detour. In part of this detour, I had to go on a road next to a farm with some cows. These cows seemed agitated: a few of them were making noise (meeeeuuuuhhh) and running around. As I approached, they looked at me and started heading in my direction. I wasn't sure if they were pissed off for some reason. I waited until a car came by and stopped it to ask the driver. She reassured me that there was nothing to worry about, and I cycled on through. She will probably be telling her friends about the crazy tourist on a bike who was afraid of cows.

Just around the corner, I saw some more cows who were just chilling out. I got as close as I could to them to take a few pictures. A little boy across the street was calling out to me "Madame Vache! Madame Vache!" I'm going to have a reputation in this region...

For dinner, I went to a brasserie where I ordered a salad for a change. At a table near me were seated four older people, I think all Americans. A French lady was chatting with them. One of the guys said he was from California. A second guy introduced a third guy as his boyfriend. The introduction was amusing:

American man: this is my boyfriend. 

French lady: ton ami ? 

American man: yes, my ami. 

French lady: ton "ami" ami, ou...? 

American man: my "ou la la" ami. (Laughter) 

French lady: Oh,  c'est bien ! 

I thought about introducing myself, a fellow American, to them, but shyness got the better of me, as well as the thought that it would be obvious I had been eavesdropping on them:-)  

A couple of the photos below are from last night's hotel: I watched the sun set from the yard of the manor. I also snapped a photo of a dog who seems to live there. This must be a happy dog, with so much space to run around. There's also a photo of the guestbook inside the gypsy wagon. I signed it:

"Had a lovely stay in this gypsy wagon during my bike tour across Brittany.


-Carmen, the American from Paris."

Tomorrow, I plan to visit Le Mont Saint Michel, before taking the train home. I have to change trains at Rennes, and I'll probably get home after midnight. I have a feeling Monday is going to be difficult. When is the next holiday?!