I’ve just returned from a brief and idyllic week at a farmhouse in  Brittany with family. This involved lots of croissants, bread, wine and beach visits. I also took my bike (started early) and managed to squeak in a few rides, both with Penny and also with the father-in-law. Riding a bike in France is the single most elemental thing you can do on a bicycle. Even when the terrain isn’t that affecting, the experience is fantastic. I think it’s to do with the way that I have elevated France as the cultural and geographical embodiment of cycling. To others, it might seem more like a slightly dull ride through endless fields of artichaut.

Penny had a few rites of passage moments, the first of which was riding her islabike in France, the second of which was pedalling furiously away from an angerly chien Francais.

We didn’t do any ‘epic’ rides. It was more sedate, a couple of 25 mile loops (not with Penny). The north coast of Brittany is largely flat with a few ups and downs. There wasn’t anything to trouble my choice of 68″ gear, aside from one stinky climb near a Zoo Parc, but with a bit of forcing and a hand held on my stomach to prevent double hernias from erupting forth, I made it in one piece.

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