The Zen of Cycletouring, or Cycling for that matter
It was September 21st last and I had breakfast in Le Croix d’Or, as I remember the name of the hotel in Chateauneuf du Faou in Brittany. This was the last day of a six-day solo tour I made, my first solo one for about 10 years. The previous night I had eaten in the hotel. This is the only hotel in this inland town and very good value but the food while nice was scanty. Not cycle-touring stuff at all. I’d gone out to a creperie across the road after dinner but the crepes were particularly poor and I love crepes. Breakfast was, well, breakfast only in name. This is a difficulty in France as many hotels give you a very poor one. Before leaving town I visited the patisserie around the corner and got two big nourishing cakes, one with almond and the other a kind of chewy cakey looking confection and put them in my bags.
Off I went. I followed a route of small roads I’d done previously, though Langonnet, Groas-Loas, Toul-Dous and Plevin. It was a dull-still day, there was almost no traffic and the scenery was moderate. Then I descended towards the Nantes-Brest Canal. This is only navigable by canoe but has a bike/walking path along it of varied composition. I’d cycled stretches of it in the past and loved it, but my cycling companions, Mick once and Mary several times found it a bit tedious. As I crossed the canal there was a path to both sides but I rode about 100 yards along it to the left and came to a picnic table. Out with my Chinese TK111 stove in which I burn white spirit (turpentine substitute, a kind of paraffin). I pumped the stove, opened the valve until about a teaspoon poured out, ran it around the wick material under the burner, turned the stove upside down and lit this with a lighter. This does not ignite as readily as petrol. Then I left it for two minutes to prime while I poured two packets of Kenko 2 in 1 (coffee plus whitener) into my mug. When primed, I turned the valve on and gradually opened until I’d a roaring blue flame. 500cc of water in the stainless steel pot I use and three minutes later I had my cup of coffee.
I then sat down and slowly munched my gorgeous cakes and sipped coffee before this marvellous view. I love stillness and the sound of running water.
It was THE moment of a fine tour…