The wrong cowboys

After the night well spent in Saint Brieuc, all I wanted was to meet a lovely old French couple and have a glass of wine while I try and comprehend their life story told in French.  It’s become a game. Stories are what make an adventure, and hearing what some of these people have to say is unreal, and for me, understanding it in French makes it just that much sweeter.

We left in the rain, only to ride a short distance, until we were forced to wait it out until the sun shone the next day.  After Mont Saint Michel, the ride was stunning.  The floating castle peaked at us through the clouds as we popped in and out of rolling hills and fading forests letting fall take over.

The brick and stone chateaus lined every quiet road we would happen upon.  Thanks to google, the route was a gamble if we ended up on something bike-able or not.  For this day, the ride was simple, just straight to the beaches of Normandy.

After Portugal and Spain, what we encountered as “hills” in France, made us toss our heads back in laughter as we casually ride over the mosquito bite.  I guess we mocked France’s capability for a challenging landscape, because hill after hill we exclaimed how “that was the biggest one we have ridden in France,” over 10 times.

Trying to fight the cold with a good attitude.

That morning both of us were quietly hiding the fact that we were freezing.  We had to put on our rain gear which was just too much and making us sweat.  For the first 2 days in the north we fought this, trying to see what we could find to combat the chill.  a little too easily, we found a discount sports store, scored a long bib and riding jacket, and a pair of gloves, tossed them on and rode on to the historical coast of Normandy.

Making it within 40 miles of the coast, drained from the constant fight against the deceivingly undulating route, a small restaurant with a cheap “plat du jour” catches our attention.  Now, we are always in our riding gear which for us seems normal, but when we are in the middle of the French countryside walking into a small town’s local watering hole, things get weird.  It is like the scenes in western movies where the “guy who doesn’t belong” kicks open the saloon doors and everyone becomes silent and stares at him.  Except in our case, Keagan is smiling bright and I’m smiling trying not to look uncomfortable, while the place goes immediately silent as everyone tries to figure out why we were wearing tights.

After a few minutes, things settle down so we go through our routine of eating everything in front of us and keeping some “pocket bread” for the coming ride.  The restaurant was packed, and everyone knew each other.  Covered in paint, or in work overalls, they are they to eat, talk, and drink, but a man sits next to me, pours himself a glass of cidre then reaches over to pour a glass for Keagan and I.  With that we have made a new friend in the midst of cowboys shunning the outsiders who came to the wrong saloon.

It’s become pretty funny, everyone reaction, but everyday we sit just with each other amidst some glaring eyes wondering but not asking any questions.  There is always someone curious enough and brave enough to break that cultural barrier and talk to us.  Sometimes it leads to having a place to stay that night, or a phone call to a friend to house us in the next town.  Everything happens for some reason and we just go where ever the bike carries us to see what will happen.