The past few weeks have slipped away quickly. My alarm clock still goes off at some (previously) unimaginable hour most mornings. The instructor still screams at us to go “harder/faster etc.”, except now that instructor happens to be my boyfriend. Much to my horror, he recently decided to come out of “retirement” to start teaching spin classes again.
I try to stare ahead at the wall and try not to glance in his direction during class. Still, I can see him thinking, “Can she really not pedal any faster?”
I’m pretty sure he’ll be thinking similar thoughts throughout our trip. Well, I probably won’t be able to avoid eye contact for the entire trip. There have been a lot of things going through my mind in the last few weeks too… Do I have everything I need? Am I going to be fit enough for those ‘upgradeable climbs’? Is my butt going to survive 6 weeks in the saddle??
Other than the spin classes, I have also been trying to get some miles under my wheels outside. Unfortunately for me – but not for the ski bunnies – we have just had the biggest snow fall in over 50 years. This really hasn’t helped my fitness, as riding on snow/ice while my fingers and toes turn into popsicles isn’t my idea of a fun ride. Even visualizing cycling through those little French cobblestone roads with my front panniers filled with baguettes and a bottle of wine hasn’t really worked to get me out there on my bike more.
Right, so where are we at with our cycle tour itinerary? Well… we do have a start place! After much discussion, we decided to start in Burgundy, the wine capital of France. This region is not only famous for its incredible wine, but also for its medieval history and castles, so I’m pretty happy about this. Besides bike touring surrounded by interesting scenery, my other favourite pastime is sipping a glass or two of vino. But other than starting in Burgundy and a few places that are on both our must-see lists – Corsica, Provence, Nice and of course those famous ‘upgradeable’ climbs – our itinerary is still a little blurry for my liking.
So I’ve been struggling to work out the train systems in France, as I’d heard only certain trains would take our bikes and we wouldn’t get far out of Burgundy if we just rode. After searching and more searching online, I finally conceded defeat and we popped in to see our local travel agent, who found a train, booked it, and sent us on our way in less than 5 minutes flat.
Despite the fact I organize hiking and cycling tours for Active New Zealand, I’ve never really considered taking one myself. But there happened to be a brochure on cycling in France among the colourful array of brochures for organized tours at the travel agents so I grabbed it and had a quick flick through. The photos looked amazing and for what the trip offered, not a bad price. The idea of having someone meeting me at the airport, popping my bike in a van and driving me off to one amazing place after another with great food and accommodations sorted so we could just ride and relax for 6 weeks was, let’s just say, pretty appealing at this stage! Hmm… I’m starting to get a new appreciation for why clients on our cycling trips are so grateful.
Don’t get me wrong, certainly bike touring independently could be challenging at times (in all sorts of ways I don’t know yet) and I’m not saying that it isn’t going to be fun, but if we manage to survive this one, I’m guessing an organized cycle tour will be high on the list for our next overseas adventure.
Now the countdown is nearly over. The bikes are ready to be dismantled and put into their bags for our journey and our list of what we will need to take is steadily being ticked off. Knowing that in a few days time we’ll be on our way to Paris is pretty awesome to say the least. So until my next blog upon return, au revoir!
Written by Ange West