In July and August 1980, Mark and I (having been thrown together at university by dint of the alphabet) decided on a cycling tour in the north of France.
Having taken the ferry from Southampton to Cherbourg, we rode south in search of wine and ... (cheese). Against a steady head-wind, we made the whole length of the Cherbourg peninsula on the first day.
Thereafter, our daily distances reduced. Our route has faded into the furthest recesses of my memory. Fortunately, a few photographs remain and I can only assume, therefore, that we did indeed visit Lac de Guerlédan near Mûr-De-Bretagne and the Forêt de Paimpont.
We were navigating using the IGN 1:100,000 Carte Touristique maps. These were quite good in many ways, but one thing we didn’t at first appreciate was the difference between the the “regularly maintained” and the “irregularly maintained” minor roads. We therefore found ourselves riding on rough tracks from time to time. On one such occasion, a small branch thrown up by my front wheel caught in the mudguard, sending me flying over the front of the bike, much to Mark’s amusement.
On occasions, we would come across groups of tanned, lycra-clad French cyclists on expensive-looking lightweight bikes. There was a marked contrast between them and us, on our heavy touring bikes with flapping panniers, dressed in ordinary clothes and, in my case, very white legs. Nevertheless, we delighted in overtaking them comfortably and leaving them for dust!
We ate and drank well during the trip and I actually put on about a stone in weight (having been a bit of a stick insect up to that point).
After a fortnight or so, we returned on the Saint Malo to Portsmouth ferry, stocking up on duty-free French wine. Somehow, I managed to squeeze twelve bottles into my panniers, in addition to my clothes and camping gear. I could hardly lift the bike, and hill-climbing was a bit of a strain, but I managed to ride from Portsmouth to my parents’ house in Winchester, where I offloaded about half my hall, making the (train) journey back to Chelmsford a little easier.
Thank you, Mark, for going with me and for thinking of bringing a camera; otherwise I’m not sure I would have remembered very many of the places that we visited.