Sunday 27 June – Not the Snore de France and other sport

Having begun my last blog 2 week’s ago saying that it was never my intention to blog fortnightly, another 2 weeks has passed!  I promise this is not a routine I meant to get into and I will endeavour to write weekly again going forward.

That of course is dependent on having lots to share and having made huge progress on my various projects …

This week, I am going to focus on a number of the different activities that have occurred in our part of the world in the last few weeks and highlight why it is an amazing place to come on holiday.

On the day of my last blog, while we hadn’t realised at the time, the Nautical Centre on the Lac du Drennec was hosting a major regatta for the Finistère windsurf and dinghy championships.  It had attracted hundreds of people to our local lake and looks like it was a huge success helped by the perfect sunny weather.

Having been closed for the 2020 season due to coronavirus, the Nautical Centre has reopened for this year (until the middle of September).  It is a great facility for those who want to learn how to sail, paddleboard or windsurf or, if you’re already proficient but don’t want to bring your own kit, there is lots to hire to enable you to make the most of this fantastic freshwater lake.

Something else that made a comeback on the lake after a 2020 hiatus, was the TriBreizh triathlon.  This was an annual event previously that was good to watch, not one I intend to participate in, with some serious athletes swimming, cycling and running in and around the lake.

Usually we try and arrive early to get to see the swim start but this year it began a little earlier and we were tied up with breakfasts in the gîtes so some of these images are of the event in previous years.

However, so as not to miss it completely, we went, as previous years, to Au Lac for lunch to watch the runners for the last part of the race.  Lunch ran on a little and became a fun afternoon with Mercedes hence no blog last week!

During the week we did achieve something that we’d been waiting on for a while when we had our first COVID jab.  The French were initially slow to give their vaccine programme any momentum and, for a number of reasons, we have the impression that there are significant percentage of vaccine refuseniks, but we have at least managed to have our first and are booked in for jab 2 towards the end of July.

The biggest event of the past week has been the Tour de France whose first stage took place yesterday between Brest and Landerneau and passed through the middle of our village of Saint Cadou – for only the second time in the Tour’s history.  One positive of coronavirus as they had to move the ‘Grand Depart’ of the race from Copehagen and Brest stepped in to host its fourth depart.

The last time the Tour was close by was in 2018 when, while it didn’t get to St. Cadou, passed through our commune town of Sizun and the neighbouring commune of Commana.  As novices to spectating the event, we hadn’t prepared then perhaps as well as should and it was a lot of sitting about for a few seconds activity.

I was a little dismissive of the entire event with its huge fleet of polluting vehicles accompanying the riders and tonnes and tonnes (and tonnes) of plastic marketing rubbish thrown from the caravanne preceding the bikes, 90% of which I suspected ended up in the rubbish if not before the end of the stage, then certainly before the end of the Tour.

I felt that if I wanted to watch lots of MAMILs on illegal substances peddling fast on bikes I would just watch a live-streamed spin class in Stockwell.

However, as this year was soooo close it seemed the done thing to watch.  Our gîtes are located effectively on a little ‘island’ created by 2 small tracks so while the bikes didn’t literally pass by our front door, they passed the end of one of these tracks and were as close as they could possibly ever get.  We were invited up the road to our neighbours to watch from their drive and had the advantage of being able to be out for the caravanne and then watching on telly until the cyclists pass through.

When we arrived at our neighbours it seems that while we were the only ones invited, we weren’t the only people making use of their drive (aside from the many camping cars and picnic tables that had appeared up on his neatly tended grass verge!)

Evidently the logistics around the Tour is huge and they have many corporate sponsors.  As in 2018, the main car provider is not one of the proud French marques, but Skoda.  Skoda use the event to host their corporate VIPs and each day they ferry them around the stage by car and helicopter and provide a professionally catered picnic for them somewhere.

Now, I’d have thought that the location of these picnics would be carefully researched and chosen well in advance of the race to ensure there actually is something suitable and all is agreed in advance.  Apparently not.  The team of 2 who are based in the camping car (Scott their Scottish professional chef and Anna, their Spanish waitress / publicist / everything) which is their mobile kitchen is given a rough area where to be and, on the day, they then have to go and find a suitable spot to set up!  Yesterday, that suitable spot turned out to be our neighbour’s drive.

Skoda Tour de France corporate hospitality camped in Guidellou

While we weren’t invited to the Skoda picnic our neighbours (he a keen cyclist, she a cycling enthusiast), were delighted to meet Andy Schleck, winner of the 2010 Tour, who was part of the Skoda team and dined on their drive with the Skoda European bigwigs and had a brief tour of their garden.

The riders were again preceded by the caravanne of tat with the motorised strawberries, chickens and shopping baskets (you will see some who made an appearance on my 2018 blog) and we were all excited to have the chance to see little Saint Cadou on the television.

David and I hoped our large ‘Kergudon’ sign by the side of the road would get some airtime or some aerial shots of the gites however, a few kilometres before the village was the first of 2 large crashes that wiped out most of the peloton.

This first crash was caused by spectator wanting to get their equivalent of a ‘Hello Mum’ sign on TV and so was facing away from the cyclists, towards the camera, at a particularly narrow point of the road between Saint Cadou and Saint Rivoal.

Being on public roads spectators can get very close and are generally self-policing so as not to cause a problem but on this occasion the need for publicity caused a massive crash which was what the TV director focused on rather than any footage as the bikes, somewhat more spread out and bloodied, passed through the village at impressive speed.

As soon as the last bike had passed through the crowds dispersed. The camping cars and picnic tables lining the road disappeared and Saint Cadou returned to the quiet rural village it was before!  I suspect Le Tour won’t pass through the village again while we’re here.

Next week I will show you what we have been getting up to with our projects – honest – and, if I manage to start, it might become clear what our project in kit form is that I showed at the end of the last blog.