Sophie Gateau returns to bikepacking adventures up North
- LA MAISON
- LA VIE
Back To Brittany
There’s nothing like riding a few stages of the Love Tour to gradually get the legs turning after confinement. The Love Tour is a convivial event invented by the excellent bicycle magazine “200”. Every summer, at the beginning of July, cyclists are invited to ride one or more stages of the Tour, the route of which changes every year according to an often-crazy theme. A starting and finishing point, as well as a route connecting them, are provided to the participants who form a motley peloton on the roads of France. The theme for the 2020 edition was ‘Moderation’, going from one craft brewery to another.
The start of the first stage is in Saint-Méloir-des-Ondes, a small French town located in the department of Ille-et-Vilaine in Brittany. I arrive in Cancale after a 150-kilometer journey in Normandy which allows me to admire Mont Saint-Michel in all its splendor, freed from its hordes of tourists. The strong headwind from the bay is still there though. After having found Mathias, my cyclist "partner in crime", we head for the seaside campsite, the point of convergence of the merry troop.
We are definitely in Brittany. The drizzle and the headwind accompany us on the first 185 km stage which takes us to Trède-Locquémeau, where almost all the names indicated on the road signs begin with ‘Ker’. The peloton disintegrates and regroups over the course of the day, according to the different states of form, the pressing desires for a ‘Far Breton’ cake, and other cyclists’ follies. We finish the first stage surrounded by music at the Kerempont brasserie in Lannion, which had organized a little party for the passage of the Moderation Tour. We still have to reach the campsite, and we hit the road after a (few) beer(s). The typical coasts of Brittany at 36% pass more easily thanks to the drinks. We set up the tents as quickly as possible to discover that the only restaurant in the village is full and that the other eating option is located at the top of a "mountain". With high hearts and with a few companions in the same boat, we pool our remaining provisions to enjoy an improvised picnic accompanied by fries that the manager of the campsite was kind enough to prepare for us.
The second stage crosses the Monts d'Arrée and is constantly windy and rainy. We climb in the middle of forests worthy of fairy tales. The brewery at the end of the stage is unfortunately closed. My traveling companions make a beeline for the Châteaulin campsite and miss the small Ar Vu Vihan brewery which was unexpectedly on the way. I find other cyclists there already drinking beers with the brewer in her garden, surrounded by acrobatic hens. After a demonstration of our host's talents as a metal singer, I hit the road with beers in the bag for the friends already installed at the campsite.
The third day takes us through never-ending rolling fields to reach the south of Brittany. After robbing the village bakery, we finally leave under the sun. 160 kilometers later, in Theix, I find Robin, a cycling friend who comes to ride a stage with us. The fourth stage is my last day of riding and we form a group of 4 with Nathan and Bruno, our traveling companions for the day. The sun has finally arrived, we take advantage of it, we ride at an easy pace while chatting, we stop to eat pancakes and drink beers to stay in the theme of the Tour. In Couëron on the banks of the Loire, we have to separate. Half of the team continues while I branch off for Nantes to take a train. See you next year and thank you 200 for this great idea!
Text & Photos by Sophie Gateau