No downhills in Brittany - Of Jones-the-Bones, Mrs Bones and the Welsh-speaking tribes of Brittany - CycleBlaze

May 20, 2022

No downhills in Brittany

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THERE ARE NO downhills in Brittany, a laughing roly-poly man chuckled as I waddled by. He gave Steph a push, because she was riding, but not me; I'd climbed off and started walking.

Had he spoken Breton, which I wouldn't have understood anyway, he'd have said "Breizh". That's the local word for Brittany and now and then you see cars bearing not the letter F on their registration but BzH and the black stripes of the regional flag.

Small boats dominate here and sail to retrieve oysters - but only when there's an R in the month, of course
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The Eurovélo route in these parts is the Maritime. Being in Breizh, and because it keeps off the busier roads, it goes up and down. We dived down from the train station last night in leg-pimpling cold and we started this morning in rain.

It could be Scotland here. There's the same dark grey stone for houses that portray a resigned shrug in the face of the weather. I don't know how much more it rains in Brittany or how often the wind blows more violently but buy a postcard with a sea scene and it's bound to show a white lighthouse pounded by piled grey water.

Breton cyclists have won the Tour de France an uncommon number of times. Louison Bobet comes to mind, and Bernard Hinault, who lives in a small town near here of no greater achievement than that it's still there. Countless other riders have made the grade. There is something morale-forming in knowing that if you ride out against the wind in the morning, you'll probably ride home against it again in the afternoon, and in the rain.

Gentle trails beside gentle rivers
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Today, though, the sky blesses us. It is sunny, it is warm and the wind has pushed us along as the day has ticked on. We have followed arrows along quiet lanes and often on unsurfaced trails in leafy canyons shared only with singing birds or bordered by rivers. I write to you now from the sea's edge, on a shallow grass ridge at the top of a gentle arc of sandy beach.

Life is good.

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