We have reached Bordeaux now and have been enjoying a couple of days ‘à pied’ rather than ‘en vélo’. Our bodies have been complaining a bit given that we have done 7 days cycling without a rest day. My knees are a bit grumbly and the Husbands back is still giving him problems … he’s in agony, apparently (but more so when he has an audience, I’ve noticed!). I’ve concluded that this is just one of the down sides of taking a gap year when you’re 50ish rather than 20ish. There is no option but to just ‘suck it up’ as they say … our 20-something knees and back are but a distant memory and we will have to make do with what we have left to work with.

We are staying in a beautiful little ground floor French apartment in the old part of the city and have been enjoying watching life go by outside our very French (inward-opening) windows. It also has a sweet little courtyard that we have been eating our meals in so it feels very luxurious and ‘tres’ European. A very nice find!



The Husband and I have discovered that we have entirely different (of course) things that we enjoy about having a proper roof over our heads. The Husband leaves the accommodation asap and races about the city trying hard to see everything at relatively high speed. In the evenings, he likes the ability to cook proper meals and sit in a proper chair. I, on the other hand, like to potter about observing life in the day … just watching people, taking photos/video and looking at the architecture. I also like to be inside (that’s rare these days!) so spend some time indoors – I do some knitting, write a blog post, Skype and call the family and get on top of my washing. Of course being female, I also like having a proper bathroom to use and so spend a bit of time doing the things that we ladies do in bathrooms. All terribly dull and slow according to the Husband. After a few failed attempts at cities together, we now do cities separately and we both have a thoroughly lovely time. It’s actually rather refreshing after having spent several days of togetherness on bikes. Being with your spouse 100% of the time is just plain unnatural!

Our ‘togetherness’ is getting better and we have a way of working that now pretty much works, but unfortunately, our ‘team work’ hasn’t, as yet, got any better. We encountered an all time low when we needed to cross a small river that had a hand operated floating pontoon to transport cyclists from one side to the other … it was terribly cool … you had to pull a chain to get the pontoon over to you, then load up your bicycles while holding the pontoon against the bank then pull the chain again to get to the other side and then once again hold the pontoon into the bank to unload the bicycles and trailers. I won’t go into the details but there was a lot of shouting and almost drowned bicycles and cyclopolitans! After a few km of stoney silence, we saw the funny side of it all and, having both participated in several ‘team building’ days at our respective companies, we decided that we had rarely seen anything as dysfunctional … god help any person that had to ‘whiteboard’ learnings from that debacle! We have officially named it ‘the pontoon debacle’. We also decided that we would make THE BEST Amazing Race contestants … we would be absolutely hilarious and make for addictive watching!



We have made a few additions to our gear. We tried for several weeks to drink wine out our tin mugs and it really wasn’t working for me. Then one evening we pressed a couple of glass yogurt pots in to service and they’ve been with us ever since. It feel that it doesn’t really go with the whole ultra-light ethos of bike touring, and definitely makes a mockery of our titanium stove and cutlery, but they are robust and fit inside the mugs very neatly so they just sort of work. we have also bought dry sacks for the food bag, the wet bag (all things wet such as shampoo, washing up sponge and liquid etc.), and the toilet roll bag. None of these things are good if they mix and plastic bags seem to constantly fall apart.

One of the things I am really enjoying about our gap year is having the time and mental space to think. I really like thinking and, truth be told, I’m a bit of a day dreamer so can spend hours happily frolicking in my own head. I thought that the Husband would similarly be thinking about stuff so asked him if he had any big ideas or thoughts knocking around … he took a moment, and thought quite deeply, and then said …. “I really like jam, and I think we should eat more of it when we get home”. Well you can’t argue with earth shattering moments of clarity and purpose like that so I’m going to start a list of big ideas for when we go home. ‘Eat more jam’ is now top of the list! We have since given the ‘big ideas’ list more thought and have decided to also add ‘have puddings’ to the list. At home, we generally just have a main course and haven’t had deserts since we were training the children to eat green things … you know the drill … “eat your greens otherwise you can’t have pudding”.

That’s the thing about working all the time … you never have the time to come up with the really important decisions in life, like eat more jam and pudding.

Video update

I’m a bit behind with videos, as you know, but I’ve just posted the Paris video over on YouTube.

Journey update

Just to keep you updated … in the proper cycle-touring blog style …
(note: I have added 122km to the Total Distance numbers to correct for the computer problem I told you about)

8th June, 2014
Les Sables d’olonne to La Rochelle
Distance: 10Km
(We took the local train so it was a very light peddling day)

10th June, 2014
La Rochelle to Marennes
Distance: 74Km
Average speed: 14Km/h
Max speed: 32km/h
Time: 5:15 mins
Total Distance: 968km

11th June, 2014
Marennes to Royan
Distance: 43Km
Average speed: 13.9Km/h
Max speed: 34.3km/h
Time: 3:04 mins
Total Distance: 1011km (we cracked our first 1000km!!!)

12th June, 2014
Royan to Saintes
Distance: 51.4Km
Average speed: 13.9Km/h
Max speed: 43.5km/h
Time: 3:40 mins
Total Distance: 1062km
(a very hot day [30 degrees] and a strong head wind … hard day!!!)

13th June, 2014
Saintes to Cognac
Distance: 25Km
Average speed: 14Km/h
Max speed: 39km/h
Time: 2:03 mins
Total Distance: 1091km
(very easy day due to total knackeredness from the day before)

14th June, 2014
Cognac to Les Églisottes-et-Chalaures
Distance: 92Km
Average speed: 15Km/h
Max speed: 41km/h
Time: 6:07 mins
Total Distance: 1183km

15th June, 2014
Les Églisottes-et-Chalaures to Saint Emilion
Distance: 34Km
Average speed: 13Km/h
Max speed: 38km/h
Time: 2:36 mins
Total Distance: 1217km

16th June, 2014
Saint Emilion to Bordeaux
Distance: 54Km
Average speed: 13Km/h
Max speed: 37km/h
Time: 3:50 mins
Total Distance: 1270km

Join the conversation! 7 Comments

  1. What about adding – eat more good cheese and drink wine (or bubble water if you have a day off) everyday….
    These are my passions since arriving in France three years ago…
    Love your cycling stories – know all about the very very useful yoghurt jars!


  2. More for your must do list…..
    Eat good cheese and drink wine everyday (but if you need a day off wine – try bubble water)
    Love reading about your adventure – let me know if you are passing through the Savoie or Geneve – I can offer the cyclists a bed, bathroom and a few days respite from the Velo…

    • Yes, good point Melita. I totally agree with the good cheese and wine addition. Consider it added! Thanks for the offer and we will definitely be in touch if we head that way 🙂

  3. That was a cheery way to start my day today. Showed Melina the Paris video – it’s the one place in the world she wants to go. Its been a few years since I actually made some jam. Maybe I should add ‘make jam’ to my list.I mostly like the way the rows of home made jam jars look lined up on the shelf, rather than actually eating it. Maybe we could do a trade…

    • Sounds great! Melina would love Paris … how could you not! We are going back there in a few days as we plan to take the train from Toulouse to Paris on our way north. There’s so much to do and look at, I could spend at least 6 months there.

  4. Love that Paris video. Especially the young woman who after a smoke, wobbles off into the traffic and all is well. When you get back you may have to organise the helmet free revolution. Jam today I say!

    • I know!! What I noticed is that Parisians just take their space and everyone just works it out. Just fabulous. I think in NZ we need to stop yelling at each other and just take our space. French people seem to shrug (in a ‘whatever’ sort of way) more than they yell, from what I’ve seen.


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2014/15 bike tour (Bromptons), All posts, Equipment


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