Les Trois Escargots

A growing family of snails.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Riding to the festival at the end of the world

After a sunny afternoon on the beach with Solenn and David, who we last saw at Carnival in Recife, Albane dropped me in the Carrefour carpark on the outskirts of Dinan. Not the most auspicious start for a 330 km tour of Brittany! After the galettes and cider from the night before, I was feeling sluggish and not keen to start, but it was sunny and I had my pride (what little still remains) to think about.

It would mean nothing if I listed the towns that I passed through or tried to explain the pain in my legs as I spent ten hours on the bike fighting my way through 130 km of French countryside. With mountain bike tyres unsuited to road riding and a lack of fitness, it was simply a matter of endurance and stubborness. I reached a municipal campsite at eight in the evening and ate a huge pizza in the interests of carbohydrate-loading.

Despite the campsite being all but empty, a campervan still parked next to me and I woke in the morning to snoring. A good shake of the tent and a bit of clanking with the bike was my revenge! I left at eight and rode for another 10 hours stopping to check a couple of famous churches with incredible carved granite 'calvaires' depicting events from Christ's life. I overdid it at the end of the day with a couple of long loops out to the coast, but made it the Herveau household by half seven in the evening. A sign by the bell said 'Beware of the dog' and I was about to ignore it and step into the garden when a hound the size of a horse rounded the corner at speed. Jacques called him off and I was prompty introduced to the rest of the zoo - a donkey with a wonky ear, an antisocial horse and a decrepid terrier with white hair that had turned yellow.

After a shower, we ate supper and Jacques, who sailed the world as an engineer with a French marine research centre, told me his list of favourite countries - Norway for the scenery, Brazil for the women and Tonga for the friendly people. It was a warm night and my legs were twitching in bed after two days of riding.

I left at nine the next morning and rode to Brest and beyond. The 60 kilometres to Le Faou went quickly, despite my back aching, and I met Albane for lunch. We ate crispy galettes stuffed with ham, egg and cheese (a so-called 'complete') and we then drove towards the 'Festival at the end of the world'. A quick siesta to prepare ourselves and we met Bertrand, Karine and Marie-Lou in the carnage of the festival.

In its eighth year,the festival sprawls over fields with three stages, 17 car parks and a crazy campsite with 55,000 people enjoying a mix of music. We watched a singer from Cabo Verde, an Israeli-American beat box group, a Nigerian brass band, a Japanese drumming group and Jethro Tull. We drank organic cider and mixed with the old and young and drunk. It was a really good festival and I hope that it survives the inevitable commercial changes that take place as an event grows beyond its boundaries.

We slept in the car and left at 6 the next morning. The rain was starting to fall and I put the bike in the back of the car and drove back to Albane's parents' house with no sense of guilt.


Blogger Solenn said...

Well done Huw!!!
How was the "bout du monde"??

11:45 PM  

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