Lobster Run

25th-28th September 2014

Normally, we’d leave on a Thursday evening to begin our long Lobster Run weekend in Northern France - this year, Brittany Ferries had other ideas.

Lobster Run 2014

Early evening arrival in sunny Portsmouth allows us time to refresh in our cabins while booking our big table in the a la carte restaurant. As a starter to le weekend, Brittany Ferries put on a fine spread, a stunning buffet starter and excellent food and service.

So, given the refitting of some health and safety equipment cancelling our Thursday evening habit, there was nothing for it but to make the weekend longer and commence it all the day before. A quick phone call to our host awaiting us in the 14th century stone manoir confirmed all was set for a longer weekend, and why not, it would be rude not to.

Can this be... the weather was set fair for the whole duration - not just sunny, but very mild too - hmm, maybe we don’t need the heated jackets.

Following a good nights sleep and a previous evening of fine wine, food, conversation and company, it was time to dive into the beckoning French coastal scenery and hunt down a good breakfast. Our usual port of call would likely be closed in this out of season escape from Blighty, the hunt truly was on. When it comes to food, France rarely disappoints, so a quick recce of the delightful Cancale seafront produced a magnificent continental buffet - quayside table, full sunshine. Pas mal.

Lobster Run 2014

No pressure, no hard yards, and an easy jaunt to lunch, we took our time and gently potato-potatoed through country lanes to Port de Dinan. Call it laziness, call it delightful habit - call it what you like - we call into this delightful inland port on every trip for the first lunch. A stroll into the delightful historic centre and shopping lanes of Dinan soon sharpens the appetite for the next occasion de table... and there’s nothing quite like t-shirt weather, local moules marinere and cider in late September.

Despite having been just a few times before, the verdant and leafy arrival at the manoir is always such a delight. Alerted by the approaching throb of V-twins, our ever cheerful host, Even O’Neil, springs forth from the cool stoney calm to greet our leather clad posse.

To the ticking of cooling chrome, we’re introduced to Even’s son, Michael, who proves in very short time his adept technique of pouring a froth-less glass of the guest beer - so utterly necessary after such a long and arduous journey since lunch.

Lobster Run 2014

That day and the next, yet further Lobsterees arrive to swell the ranks and join in the gastronomic fun. Friday’s ride-out, at the brilliant suggestion of our host, took us north towards the Cap Frehel Lighthouse and the surprisingly spectacular coastal scenery before turning inland again at the Mediterranean-like beach of Sables d’Or les Pins an hypnotic stretch of golden white sands surreally inhabited by only a single tractor and not one single soul... ah, the delights of tourist free travel!

Not to be deterred from a serious requirement to forage for the troops, we headed for the picturesque port of Dahouet. Yet further delights of out of season sunshine awaited with the most accommodating staff at Petit Navire brasserie, pulling together a big table at a moments notice to sooth such destitute and travel weary guests in another stunning seaside location.

Following our long and languorous lunch, the ride back to our sojourn headquarters proved to be a simple yet stunning country lane rumble between acres of dense unspoilt forest and through cool dark leafy lined tunnels with leaf mould aromas. And, what do you know, but there to greet and slake our thirst with trayfulls of chilled amber liquid, was the smiling Michael. Later that afternoon saw our numbers rise to full compliment as the two sun-kissed cheery smiles of Colin and Karen arrived.

The fading rays of another afternoon spent in the manoir’s sun drenched bower heralded time for ‘just one more’ before retiring to prepare for another round of convivial wood-panelled chats, camaraderie and Even’s culinary masterpieces.

Lobster Run 2014

Saturday heralded a most troubled and difficult decision ahead - where to enjoy yet more sun-drenched miles..? Following much deliberation and soul searching angst, it would have been utter folly and so selfish to deny Colin and Karen the spectacle of the people-less expanse of shimmering white sands amidst scenes of turquoise blue waters punctuated by grass-tufted picture-postcard outcrops of coastal rocky wonders. Outcry and dissent from the troops - not a word, all happy to relive the ride once more.

Having one or possibly two days of sun on this trip would have been delight enough, so imagine the joy that each and every day brought with warm and blue skied pleasure. And so it was again on Saturday - as relaxed and easy as it can become. Retracing our steps northwards to the coast, following the sea and being greeted once more at the brasserie was, simply, a double treat. Did we steal ourselves at lunchtime knowing what was coming that evening... no, hardly. Why pass on the opportunity of having two delightful seafood meals in one day.

Like a re-run of the previous day, we rode once more through the Brittany countryside to waiting beers and bonhomie.

Lobster Run 2014

The Lobster Run it’s called, and keeping true to its name, there is much to look forward to. Lobsters, crab, crevettes and prawns abound, set amongst beds of oysters and molluscs atop a base of crushed ice... all washed down with yet another succulent white chosen by Even for the occasion. A seafood fest fit for royalty, we get spoilt, spoilt rotten.

The cacophony of excited chatter slowly dwindles to the chink of coffee cups and the glug of the calvados bottle... how else to draw a delightful day and glorious feast to a fitting close.

Hung-over, headaches, gippy tums - no, none of it. Our merry band assembles for a slightly earlier breakfast than usual. We pack our bags and say our goodbyes to Even & Michael. What a pleasure it’s been. With sun rising and steamy roads, we fill up in Plancoet before heading off along surprisingly pleasant motorways to the ferry port of Oistrehem.

I don’t know, but this just felt like an absolute dream of a biking weekend - great weather, great food, great camaraderie - the best I can recall, and all atop our wonderful steeds.

Ride Leader: Paul Wiggins - C&F Road Captain


Lobster Run 2014

Photographs by Steve Graham & Paul Wiggins.