Sunday, May 18, 2014

Brittany Rain Tour 2014: Day -6

I recently found myself required to take some days off.  With the Ascension holiday in France on May 29, a company holiday on May 30, and three extra days I had to take off, I found myself with a full week off at the end of this month.   With the weekends before and after, I saw that that left me with nine days.

What else to do during nine days but another bike trip?

I figured I could ride about 300 km in seven days, plus two days for transportation.  After checking on which trains in France I could take my bike (without unassembling it),  I decided to do a trip in Brittany: from Brest to Mont Saint-Michel.  This region is not particularly known for its sunny skies, hence the title of my tour: the "Brittany Rain Tour 2014".

This weekend I did some preparation. I took my bike to the "bike doctor" around the corner.  The normal price for a checkup at this place is 32€.  I told the guy that I had done about 8000 km on the bike.  He looked at my bike and said there was not much work to be done, so it would probably be less.  In the end it was 28€.  He fixed the gears a bit so changing gears is smoother now, he replaced the rear break pads, and he actually cleaned my bike.  I was surprised he went to the trouble to clean it.  It was so filthy.   Just before leaving, I discovered the bike doctor had thought I was planning to do a bike trip of 8000 km.  He seemed disappointed to discover that I was just planning on riding 300 km, in Bretagne.

I then went shopping for some supplies.  Today (Sunday) I realized that I didn't have any paper maps of the region.   Google maps and my Garmin GPS are great tools for navigation and calculating distances, but I've always found paper maps to be useful as well: for their "high resolution" detail, as well as seeing which streets are major highways versus small departmental roads.

In France, most businesses are closed on Sundays, with some exceptions including grocery stores, restaurants, and stores in tourist areas.  So, I went to the Fnac store at the Champs Elysées, which sells some books, in the hopes of finding some road maps.  Unfortunately they didn't have any maps there, so I had to go farther, to La Défense, to the Quatre Temps mall.  I found what I was looking for there, in the Cultura store.

It was a beautiful day today, so I stopped to take a few pictures at La Défense.  This brought back some memories, as I used to work there a few years ago.   I think I generally prefer these "modern shiny" buildings rather than the architecture with more "historical value" that you see around most of Europe.  So sue me.

La Défense

La Défense 
The Arc de Triomphe seen (in a few small pixels in the center of the image) from La Défense

When I got home, I gathered my supplies to snap a photo to share with you, and to make sure I had everything on my list for my trip next week.

Voilà :

My list of supplies for the upcoming trip:

  • Bike supplies: 
    • Lube: Since this is the "Brittany Rain Tour 2014", I need to combat rust.  I know you're thinking of dirty jokes.  Shame on you.
    • Bike pump
    • Spare inner tube
    • Levers to help remove the tires if needed
    • Alan keys
    • Screw driver
  • Gadgets:
    • Garmin GPS
    • GoPro camera
    • Sony Xperia Go (waterproof phone)
    • Batteries for the GPS
    • Charger
  • Toiletries:
    • Makeup (lipstick, eye shadow, mascara).  Gotta look good out there!
    • Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda).  This looks like a suspicious white power in a baggy.  But I've found it works better than normal deodorant.  TMI?  I wouldn't try to take this on an airplane: I'd probably end up at least having it confiscated by security and possibly being interrogated at the airport.  Can we end the f***ing drug war already so I can use my deodorant of choice when travelling?  Thank you.
    • Sunscreen
    • Toothpaste, toothbrush (not pictured)
    • Kleenex
  • Papers:
    • Train tickets
    • Passport.  Just in case I need to show ID at any hotel.  This happens very rarely.
    • Pen, paper
  • Clothes:
    • Biking pants
    • Biking shirt
    • Biking gloves
    • Socks, underwear (not pictured: you think I'd post photos of my undergarments on the internet?)
    • Light rain coat and rain pants
    • Yellow security vest
    • Support sock in case one of my feet needs it.
  • Other:
    • Water pouch with a tube, to go into my backpack so that I can drink while cycling.
    • Laundry detergent in the form of sheets
  • The bags this crap will all go into:
    • Panniers (how do English-speaking people pronounce this? pan-ee-YAY?)
    • Backpack
    • Handlebar bag
So these are most of my supplies.  I've left a couple of things out.  Surprisingly, most of all of this fits just into the panniers.  It seems lighter than the supplies I've taken on previous trips: probably because the weather is warmer this year, requiring fewer clothes.

Tune in to hear about the trip when it starts!


  1. I pronounce panniers "pan-yers." Not very French of me, I know. This still could be 8,000 km trip if you want. When you get to 300 km, just keep going. My longest trip was only about 7,000 km.

    1. Good to know it's pan-yers. I'll keep that in mind in case I go to the US some day, so I don't come off as a snobby wannabe Frenchie. It was bad enough when I went into a radio shack and asked for a USB key: they looked at me blankly until they understood I meant a "flash drive".

      Somehow I don't think my company would appreciate my 300km vacation becoming an 8000km vacation :-) Haha you "only" did 7000km. That's seven megameters! 7Mm.

      You know you've cycled a lot when you start measuring your distances in Mm. Have you done a Gigameter in your lifetime so far?

    2. Not a chance. I'd have to ride around the Earth 25 times to equal 1 gigameter.

  2. Just now getting around to reading about your recent GF and I were just talking about how she wants to move to France because of how much vacation time sucks in the U.S.

    1. Haha the number of vacation days is definitely a plus in France.

  3. By the way...I think I know where my GF's name came from now....

    "I decided to do a trip in Brittany: from Brest to Mont Saint-Michel."

    Her name is Brittany Michael haa haa!!! I'm going to have to ask her if she is named after these places.