10 July – Happy Birthday Kris, here is a flat tire (or two) for you to fix

We did some sight seeing around Pontivy before starting out on our canal ride again. Pontivy used to be called Napoleonville, as it was chosen by Napoleon as a military intelligence center. There is a square in the middle of the town large enough for 10,000 soldiers to parade on. Today it is a car park, which spoils the romance slightly. It is surrounded by old civic buildings of the time including the old military barracks.  We also rode around the Pontivy chateau. Built at the end of the 15th century by Jean II of Rohan (known as the Grand Viscount), it has military reinforcements such as a thick wall and a moat (now dry).

We had not gone far on the canal when my bike developed a puncture from a shard of glass. Kris fixed it with one of our old tubes, which only lasted a few kilometers before the tire was flat again. This time we fixed it with a fancy self-repairing tube, which lasted.

Later in the morning we reached the Guerlédan, a dam built on the canal. This dam flooded part of the canal, including several locks, causing some anger among canal lovers, as it is no longer navigable past this point.

We veered inland at this point and had some hill climbs for the first time in days. We found our way through some very pretty small villages with stone cottages and garden gnomes. At times there was a proper off road bike route (green way) surrounded by trees, at other times Kris navigated through the countryside. We had some good views over the dam from above. We met a friendly British lady walking a dog who lives here for the life style (she rides horses). She mentioned that you can’t get rich here because of low employment opportunities.

We were running later than expected at this point and getting tired. When we re-joined the canal the bike track was not quite as good as before, being unsealed and muddy in places. The canal climbed slowly through many locks, until we finally reached the top point. We passed a group of children out on their bikes in the holidays.

It was nice and relaxing when the canal began to descend quickly through a few dozen locks and we could free-wheel at times. We passed an elderly couple done up in cycling gear and ala Tour de France style bikes just before we turned off for Carhaix. We commented on their gear being non- ideal for the canal track. They passed us again at the turn off. Little did we know that we would later be staying in their home (bed and breakfast).

This bed and breakfast is in self contained rooms on the side of the house, with its own entrance through the garage, where we can store the bikes. The house is immaculately clean and neat and the hosts friendly, though they don’t speak any English.

In all we did 95km.

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