Tacos, Angels and the Nantes to Brest Canal

Taco? No, not Mexican food. On a bicycle, to “taco” a wheel is to fold it like a tortilla. I did that with my rear wheel- not quite like a taco, but bent it so it would never be a bicycle wheel again. Liz told me my words upon looking at it were, “We’re Done!” I’ll get to that in just a moment.

Canal mapLiz and I left Porspoder and all the family, Anne, Andre, Lilly and the rest, but before we left my cousin Anne asked if we’d heard about the Nantes to Brest Canal. Why, no! We hadn’t. What a lucky comment. Anne was spot on! The Nantes to Brest Canal is an incredible cycle path. Over 300km long, no cars, flat, and away from urban areas. We are able to ride without attending to normal road concerns. All one has to do is pedal and talk and enjoy! The first day on the canal seemed a little monotonous, but as we got into the rhythm of pedaling, we’ve come to love it.

VillageCanalIts character seems to change from day to day- one day wild, the next cultivated fields, the next- many small towns or a city.  Ducks, dove, an occasional hawk or heron show themselves. We’ve seen fish, muskrats, lots of forest, and other cyclists. And “eclusses” or locks. To make the canal go over hill and dale, the French have connected several rivers, dug canals and use a series of locks to raise boats up. the inclines that we’re seeing are mild and easily overcome with a gear shift or two.

Lock KeeperCanals aren’t the latest thing in moving goods, so the tow paths next to them have been converted to cycle paths. All I can do is say- “Thank You!” This is incredible cycling.  We ride, stop and picnic a snack or lunch, stop and check out a small village, ride some more and enjoy. At the end of the day there is a campsite somewhere nearby and we set up house there. The pace is easy and relaxing, the weather is remarkably good say the locals, and we are enjoying the countryside.

Back to tacos. So during day three on the canal, we set to stop at a canal-side museum, when, as I dismount, my bike leans, I pull back to hold it up, and my rear wheel bends in a way that still makes me a little sick to my stomach. Think pretzel. Deep inside I tend to worry about things that might happen. Now it happened- a mechanical issue that I can’t fix on the trail. There’s no cobbling a fix on this one and limping into the next town for the repair. We’re 10 miles away from any towns, with a wheel that’s no longer a wheel, in fact it can’t even roll, and AAA doesn’t service the canal. What to do?

Flats are an easy fix. Not so a complete wheel failure.

Flats are an easy fix. Not so a complete wheel failure.

The canal-side exhibit was in an “Eclusse House,” the homes where the lock keeper lived to open and close the water gates for the boats. People still live in many of them. Liz knocked on the door and it just so happened that the son, Eric, was driving to town, and, his vehicle was a big European panel truck that could hold all our gear, and, he offered to take us to a bike shop or two to handle the problem. Three hours later we’re back pedaling on the canal toward our planned campsite for the night. Thank you Eric.

Angels exist, and each of us is one when the time arises.

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One Response to “Tacos, Angels and the Nantes to Brest Canal”

  1. What a beautiful story and pictures. I just got this from Mitch. I remember meeting you when you lived next to Jim and Diane. Your trip makes me want to run off to the airport.

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