Reflections …

Back home in Auchterarder, and time to reflect on what was an incredible holiday, and an even more amazing sense of achievement in completing the route.

Although it was hectic, and very full-on, the “old git” and the “old gal” are already missing their days  of togetherness in the saddle while on the road in beautiful Burgundy. The scenery was fabulously eye-catching and a real joy to experience.

Before we set out we always said that “the journey” was going to be the holiday, and sticking to that agenda we enjoyed long sunny days on the road giving us a fantastic in-depth experience of the Villages and Vineyards of Burgundy – and its friendly people.

That journey was so much more satisfying for us being self-propelled at the slow pace of a tandem. Every view (and every hill!) lasted so much longer.

Travelling in the relatively fragile mode of transport that a tandem is certainly exposed us not only to the warm sunshine, but to the physically demanding exertions of progressing from place to place.

It also brought us into close interaction with the local people, many of whom tooted their support and issued friendly “bonjours” as they passed Team Tandem Ecosse in their vehicles. And of course the other cyclists we met along the way – with whom we shared a special bond.

But perhaps the most important thing is that the “old gal” (aka Diane) and the “old git” (aka Colin) did it as a team – through thick and thin, up (yet another) hill and down dale, and reversing our pedalling to the last junction to take the “correct” turning.

They resolutely supported each other every pedal of the way – and emerged from the experience even more together, and in love!

And even after nearly 200 gruelling miles they tell me it really was a fantastic adventure – and they wouldn’t have missed it for the world!

Now where is that brochure to start planning next year’s trip …..

Sat - vineyards just grapes

Finally, here is the review we posted with the holiday company Exodus.

Fantastic experience – even with a few unexpected hills!

5 Stars
Overview:
We cycled The Vineyards and Villages of Burgundy trip with our classic tandem – which really did prove to be double the fun on a bicycle made for two! The scenery was spectacular – switching from pedalling through some of the most famous vineyards in the world to scenic villages where each one was prettier than the previous one, to beautiful canal paths and magnificent chateaux. It was made all the more spectacular by the warmth of the sunshine – and the friendliness of the locals we met en route, many of whom enjoyed the spectacle of our tandeming efforts! With most of the route along designated cycling paths, it felt very safe and the area is perfectly set up for cyclists – with the paths mainly being of a much higher quality than experienced in the UK. The organisation was brilliant – particularly the ease of the luggage transfer – which allowed us to enjoy the cycling and the quaint individual hotels which all offered a warm welcome and were fully geared up for cyclists.
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
Several:
Cycling through the vineyard paths – with the grapes ready for harvest literally a few paces away;
The caves in the villages eager to offer wine tastings – with the wine in each village seemingly better than the one before!;
The spectacular chateau at the medieval village of Chateauneuf en Auxois – even if it required a huge effort to get up the hill to it!;
The beautiful tree-lined canal paths and the scenic lock-keeper’s houses along the way;
Thur - canal to chataneuf
The historic architecture of the two main towns of Dijon and Beaune;
and the feeling of personal satisfaction and achievement of reaching journey’s end!!!
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
The route notes contained several good suggestions for lunch and picnic stops – follow these and you will have wonderful venues for picnics. Suggest stopping at a local boulangerie en route before lunch (as most close at lunchtime) for baguette and local shops for cheese, cold meats, fruit, and of course a bottle of Cremant fizz to wash it all down! The suggested lunch stop at the small bridge at Lusigny-sur-Ouche on the trip from Nolay to Chateauneuf is truly halcyon.
We would recommend a thorough read-over of the day’s route before leaving – including double checking it on the provided large scale map – as some of the directions can be open to interpretation … and result in “discussions” between couples!
Sat - Vineyards Tig mapr cropped
Beware the “surprise” hills. This was billed as an ‘easy to moderate’ trip across ‘mildly undulating’ countryside. To the most part it is – but there are a few killer hills and long steep gradients which we felt it would have been fairer to be warned about. The fact that they cropped up without warning sapped energy and threw the planned timings of the schedule out of kilter.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Doing a trip like this really is a fantastic experience and will provide a well of great memories!
You owe it to yourself to do it!
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Day six – journey’s end!

Having returned to Beaune last night, the schedule for day six set out a short 16 mile “warm down” tandem ride back into the vineyards – with opportunities for even more wine tastings! Oh well, if you insist!

And there was also some free time to enjoy the area! So the “old git” and the “old gal” decided on a morning trip by car back to the Imaginarium at nearby Nuit-St-George to make some wine purchases.

After a good look around yesterday, the dynamic duo had a lengthy shopping list – and soon had a trolley full with a half case of rose Cremant, and a half case of white Cremant.

Then there was the joy of filling a mix-and-match case – with some of the best red and white labels from around the Burgundy villages.

I was a bit worried where all the wine boxes were going to go in the Tandem Transporter as I take up a substantial amount of room. But the “old git” had it worked out – with the half case boxes being relatively thin and flat and argued that I could sit on top of them!

So buoyed by some retail therapy – and a brief Cremant tasting – they headed back to the hotel in Beaune and changed into cycling gear to tackle the third set of spoke repairs on my back wheel.

The “old gal” really had this off pat  by now – and operating without any fear within minutes my tyre was off and the spokes were being fitted. The “old git” was soon pumping up my rear tyre again – but there was a new problem. It wasn’t inflating. Zut alors!

After some examination and head scratching they decided my inner tube must have got a nick in it with all the prizing on and off – so effectively I had a puncture.

Fortunately the “old gal” had decided to invest in one of the new aerosol sealer puncture repair things which pumps sealer into the tube to seal the hole. And it worked a treat and my wheel and tyre were restored to being as good as new.

I have to say the “old gal” has really surpassed herself with her bike repair skills – and the “old git” has been immensely impressed – saying that she had more than earned her colours as Chief Engineer!

So after a celebratory soft drink – to mark the latest repairs – we headed off in lovely warm sunshine back into the vineyards for our last sojourn of the trip.

A lovely flat route over the paths which criss-cross  the vineyards and into the pretty wine village of Aloxe-Corton. As the self-guide “bible” said there were lost of tastings on offer in the village caves, but we headed to the magnificent Chateau Corton-Andre – with its glazed-tile roof – on the outskirts of the village.

The “old git” and the “old gal” parked me under a cool, leafy tree and headed into the cellar of the château for a tasting of the finest wines Aloxe-Corton could offer.

sun - wine tasting

The “old git” in the cellar at Chateau Corton-Andre – vintage wines everywhere!

Next they had a very educational tasting – with the differences being clearly highlighted as they climbed up from the village label, to the premier cur, to the grand cru.

Two things of note here – the person describing the tasting pointed out that the price of a bottle wasn’t what was important – it was the taste in the bottle. Basically, if you liked the wine, you would buy it – whatever the price. Not sure the “old git” agreed with him, especially when the grand cru bottles were usually priced around the 100 euro mark!

The second thing was that as we switched from tasting red to white – the taster “washed” out the remnants of the red wine in their glasses with what he called cheap white wine. “Its the only thing it is good for – washing up!” he said. The “old gal’s” ears pricked up and she promised to do all the washing up from now on – but only if she could use white wine to do it!

Back out into the sunshine and the “old gal” decided she had to pose on the steps of the château, so she could show everyone “her new house!” It really was a magnificent building – with ornate plaster work and paintwork.

Sun - Dis new house Alex Cortone

The “old gal” shows off her “new house”!

After a lovely restful stop, we pedalled off again back into the vineyards – and after a few miles we stopped for our last picnic. This time it was a mini-picnic involving some bruschetta bread and some left over fromage. And some fantastic quarter bottles of Cremant that the “old git” had procured at the tasting – which they had to classily sook through straws!

Sun - selfie cremant vineyards

Cheers – The “old git” and the “old gal” showing their class sooking Cremant through straws!

The “old farts” t-shirts were on full view today – and again were receiving a lot of laughs from locals who were enjoying the joke.

A quick check to see my rear wheel was still in one piece – and it was – and we headed back for the final run, tandeming back into the hotel in Beaune for journey’s end.

After 180 gruelling miles over six days, up and down hills, all three of us were pleased to see the hotel – which meant the journey was finally at an end.

Euphoria was the overwhelming feeling of the “old git” and the “old gal” – mixed with a general knackerdness.

But also a tremendous satisfaction that they had achieved journey’s end and completed all parts of the route!

sun - knacjed at journeys end

Happiness is journey’s end for the “old git”, the “old gal” and of course me the “old lady.”

I was parked up in the cycle rack of the hotel’s courtyard and the dynamic duo headed off to celebrate their efforts with a bottle of the best Cremant fizz.

A most welcome shower followed before the happy duo headed out on the town of Beaune for a celebration meal. This time they selected a traditional Burgundian restaurant – recommended by the hotel – which promised local delights.

It was truly a gastronomic feast to end the tour, with the “old git” plucking up courage to have his first taste of escargots – in a snail and mushroom casolet. And very tasty it was – with the snails cut into small pieces and tasting like chicken. The “old gal” tasted the dish too and heartily approved, although she enjoyed some local duck pate for starter.

Two gorgeous succulent steaks sitting on a bed of melted Epoisse followed – real melt-in-your-mouth stuff, before a very scrumptious cheese course. It included a local La Nuit d’Or which was a real treat. And the meal finished with a cassis sorbet – another local delicacy as Crème de Cassis is one of the locally made products.

Back to the hotel and a quick check that I was ok – my puncture repair had held brilliantly – before retiring for the last sleep of the tour.

Tomorrow we were all heading north in the car for a stop off in the Champagne region – near a lake in the Troyes area – to meet up with good friends Ann and Jack for a week’s rest.

And after the intensity of the last week – that was a welcome prospect.

But job done – tour completed – and the last word on the Burgundy adventure goes to the “old gal” who said: “Never again will I complain about Millport being mildly undulating!”

Sante!

Day five – Dijon to Beaune and back into the vineyards

Day five and the schedule was for a 30 mile leg from Dijon back into Beaune. After a deep sleep the “old git” and the “old gal” were fully refreshed and looking forward to getting back into the vineyards – as long as the route was flat!

The self-guide “bible” promised that today would be a “classic ride” along ‘La Route des Grands Crus de Bourgogne’. It added: “It is a perfect ride, returning to the wonderful vineyards and the villages that tend the precious vines and lend their names to world-famous wines.”

And we were told that the harvest was just starting so the paths through the vineyards would be full of people picking the grapes.

And the “old gal” was delighted as it stressed the navigation would again be simple – with plenty of opportunities for stops and wine tastings along the way.

But before Team Tandem Ecosse headed out of Dijon there was a major task to be achieved – finding a cycle shop and being able to buy more new spokes for my back wheel in case any more snapped.

We found one quickly and the “old gal” disappeared inside as the “old git” was left in charge of parking me and locking me up. And he was amazed that by the time he got into the “velo” shop, she had managed to communicate the requirement to buy four spokes – called rayons in French. The bike shop owner even apologised that they were black and not chrome!

Buoyed with that success the dynamic duo headed off into the picturesque villages which where breathtaking in their beauty. First was Marsannay-la-Cote, then into Couchey and then Fixin.

Next we cycled through Brochon and Gevrey-Chambertin – all of which offered opportunities for tastings – before we all stopped in Morey-St-Denis. Here the “old git” and the “old gal” disappeared into a cave for a fantastic tasting – through the steps from a village, to the premier cru, and finishing with the grand cru. They both agreed you could taste the difference as the prices increased – even although the village wine was still particularly tasty.

It would have been rude to leave without a purchase, so a bottle of wine was duly bought for the lunchtime picnic – with another bottle of Cremant  for arrival back in the hotel in Beaune as an aperitif for dinner.

Back out into the sunshine and the “old git” noticed the amusing name of the village square and persuaded the “old gal” to pose under the stone work sign.

Sat - Di Tart square

No comment is the best caption for this picture! (Just joking!)

We set off again – in lovely warm sunshine – riding through Chambolle-Musigny then Vosne Romanee.

The “old git” was in heaven as we were inches away from some of the best vineyards on the planet. So he had to get off for a photo opportunity.

Sat - vineyards Tig grapes

The grapes were just ready for the harvest. 

The “old gal” was enjoying the break from the map-reading so the “old git” decided to check the next few instructions on the route – and noticed a series of hills were coming up for the afternoon. He decided to keep this quiet until the next stop in the village of Nuit-St-George – one of the most famous wine names.

Sat - Vineyards Tig mapreading

The “old git” checking the map in the midst of the vineyards near Nuit-St-George.

As we cycled into the gorgeous town of Nuit-St-George we were welcomed by our Yukon friends John and Nancy in the town square. They had set off a bit earlier than we did, and had just enjoyed a leisurely lunch and we joined them for coffee.

John (who had the same hatred of hills as the “old gal) had already looked ahead at the route instructions and spotted the hills for the afternoon ride – and had worked out an alternative route into Beaune, which was still scenic but just avoided those uphill stretches. This was like manna from heaven to the “old gal” – and this was definitely the route we were going to take back to Beaune.

But firstly an exchange of photos was required and the “old git” got the camera out to record the first international followers of my blog!

Sat - New friends Yukon John and Nancy

John and Nancy from the Yukon who were on the same self-guided trip.

And of course it wouldn’t be a blog without a selfie….

Sat - new friends John Nancy and us selfie

A selfie featuring John and Nancy with the “old git” and the “old gal” – all smiles!

After waving them away, the “old git” and the “old gal” decided on a trip to the Imaginarium in Nuit-St-George which was a fantastic experience – giving a great audio-visual experience of the history of the Burgundy region’s wine-making, and an insight into the art of making Cremant and Champagne.

And another wonderful picnic was enjoyed in the parkland outside. The picnics were a real credit to the “old gal”  and on this one she had surpassed herself with some purchases in the most amazing fromagerie in Dijon yesterday – including an orgasmic Gouda with a layer of truffle in the middle. It truly was sensational. And the wine from the village of Moray-St-Denis was wonderful as well.

The Imaginarium had a great shop selling all of the region’s wine – and of course Cremant, so a return visit was pencilled in by car tomorrow for the purchases to take back to Auchterarder.

After a very interesting couple of hours, we all cycled off on the non-hilly route to Beaune – which saw us cycle through more vineyards and villages such as Prissey and Corgoloin before Chorey and Ladoix-Serigny.

We were soon back at the hotel – the same one as at the start of the tour, and indeed the dynamic duo had the same wonderful room overlooking  the courtyard so they could keep an eye on me parked in the cycle rack.

The “old gal” did another spoke check before locking me up, and noticed that another two spokes had broken today. None of the spokes we had replaced had broken – but clearly further repairs were going to be required tomorrow before the final “warm down” cycle. So just as well that the “old gal” managed to procure some more new spokes, cut to the correct length!

A bottle of Cremant was quickly demolished as the “old git” and the “old gal” celebrated their return to Beaune – some 130 miles after leaving five days ago.

The meal tonight was a wonderful outdoor meal in one of the many quaint squares in the town – with some tasty duck for the “old gal” and another steak for the “old git” before a plate of local cheese. Yes, I know you want to know – a tasty bottle of Gevrey-Chambertin premier cru red washed it all down.

Just time for a walk round the town – which had an eye-catching series of computer-generated graphic displays projected on to some of the historic buildings.

Then back to the hotel and another night of deep zzzs before the final day of the tour tomorrow.

Sweet dreams!

Day four – along the canals to Dijon (and flat at last!)

Day four and the schedule saw Team Tandem Ecosse face a 25 mile leg from the ancient town of Chateauneuf (high on a hill) to the town famous for its mustard – Dijon.

And the “old gal” was in high spirits as the alarm clock woke her from her slumbers as the “bible” outlined that today offers “a fabulous ride into Dijon”. It added that most of the journey is on the tow path next to the canal which will make the cycling “incredibly relaxing and the navigation very easy.” And not a mention of the dreaded ‘h’ word of hills!

So it was with a spring in her step that she jumped out of bed before remembering that another bout of surgery was required on me, the “old girl”, as I had another two broken spokes. Don’t ask me why as they seemed to just snap at the drop of a hat – for no particular reason.

But we couldn’t head off on the next 25 miles before I was unceremoniously turned upside down again in the garden of the Gite – causing much interest amongst the locals – as the “old gal” and the “old git” got the operating kit out.

I have to say I was most impressed as they worked away like a true team this time – each with their dedicated jobs – and in no time my tyre was off, the spokes replaced (albeit with a bit of huffing and puffing as it is not easy), my tyre inflated again and finally my spokes re-tightened to bring my curves back into shape! The “old git” muttered under his breath something about he wished that the “old gal’s” curves could be brought back into shape so easily – but then he got a hard slap!

Rightly so, the dynamic duo were both rather chuffed that the procedure had been successfully carried out in very little time, and soon we were ready to head off on the day’s adventures.

But that was the spares supply of four spokes – that the “old gal” in her role as Chief Engineer had brought with her – used up. I mean, they didn’t actually believe they would have to replace any of my spokes, so replacing four has been above and beyond the call of duty.

So it was fingers and spokes crossed that we would get through today without any more snapping – or we would be looking for a bike shop in Dijon for more spares.

I admit that I too was looking forward to a day that promised no tough uphill stretches. After all, I am actually older than both the “old git” and the “old gal” so an easy ride was going to be most welcome.

So after another lovely breakfast – and saying our farewells to magnificent French hostess Annie at Chez Bagatelle – it was time to get on the road.

And first off – instead of an uphill climb – it was a glorious downhill stretch to the village of La Bussiere. This was rural and the scenery beautiful so all were in high spirits, even allowing for the shout of “brake” coming from my rear as we sped towards some sharp corners. Sometimes I think the “old git” thinks I bend in the middle – but I don’t! After all I am over 7 feet long!

Within a few more minutes we were on the Canal de Bourgogne with an instruction to stay on the canal path for the next 30 km – and as the “bible” said this makes for a “very relaxed ride, free of cars.”

And with cycle path signs all the way, there was little need for navigation so it was a case of stay on the tow path and enjoy the tandem ride – and the lock gates and scenery along the way.

Fri - Dijon canal

The welcome sight of miles of flat cycling ahead of the scenic Canal de Bourgogne.

The sun was beating down – and the temperature was hitting 30C – so it was time for the sunscreen. And yes, the “old gal” even put some on too – showing how fierce the rays were. So all told it was perfect conditions and we all whizzed along at a fair pace – with much comment about this is what we expected it to be like every day!

The “old git” was even trying to sing – just to prove how happy we all were. But the “old gal” soon told him to be quiet as he was so out of tune he was giving us both earache!

Each lock gate house along the canal was more attractive than the previous and at St-Victor-sur-Ouche we came across one that was turned into a café with a terrace and a gift shop.

So obviously this required a stop – for a slice of cake and a glass of local cider. And the “old git” spotted that the shop had a few bottles of rose Cremant at a bargain price, so he snapped one up for the picnic later. I mean, it would have been rude not to, obviously.

This made the smile on the “old gal’s” face even wider  and a quick photo stop followed – with the “old git” determined to get a pictorial record of that smile … just to prove she was enjoying herself!

Fri - Dijon canal Di on bike

The “old gal” with a smile almost as wide as my handlebars – due to the flat tow paths!

All joking aside, it really was a fabulous day to be cycling – and the conditions could not have been better. This really was a joy to be tandeming – and Team Tandem Ecosse were really enjoying themselves!

Fri - Dijon canal Di and Tig selfie

Team Tandem Ecosse in high spirits – and that was before the rose Cremant!

The miles seemed to fly by as you see – when I get going – the momentum that builds up when going on the flat really carries me along and the “old git” and the “old gal” have an easier time. The “old gal” was also enjoying a break from her map reading duties and reassuring the “old git” for the fourth time that yes it was this right turn they had to take!

The canal passed through the village of Pont-de-Pany and the “old git’s” radar was finely tuned so he spotted the supermarket from a distance and they pulled in to get supplies for another amazing picnic.

At the next lock gate they stopped and laid out a magnificent spread of hams, cheeses, freshly baked bread, a quiche bought in the local boulangerie, and the most amazingly sweet grapes. Oh yes, and that bottle of rose Cremant to wash it down, I can tell you it all went down a treat – and the many passers-by looked on enviously at the dynamic duo lapping up the goodies. What was particularly nice that quite a few local people were using the canal path and all passed by with a cheery (if not envious) Bon Appetite!

Now I am not sure of the drink driving laws in France – but what with the soaring temperatures the effects of that rose Cremant seemed to have the “old git” and the “old gal” in particularly high spirits. Lets just say there was a wee bit of a wobble for the first twenty minutes or so as my handlebars had to be corrected a few times.

A quick stop for water (not sure why they were thirsty?!!?) then we tackled the last stretch along the canal into the city of Dijon itself.

Now France is amazingly set up for cyclists – much, much better than back home in Scotland. The cycle paths are dedicated paths, away from traffic, and are clearly signposted and of amazing quality – perfectly smooth with no potholes. Scottish councils please take note!

And the cycle paths went all the way into the city – with sections of the pavement dedicated for bikes. As we hit the streets of the city – which has its own tramway – the “old git” wisely decided that they should walk the last half mile or so to the hotel as it was a bit on the busy side.

Our base for the night was the Hotel le Sauvage, a former coaching inn of the 15th Century with a wonderful courtyard in the shadow of vines. I was parked up in a quaint old garage, complete with original cobbles on the floor.

After a quick wash and brush up the dynamic duo hit the town for an explore of this fascinating city and its breathtaking architecture including a copy of Notre Dame Cathedral, complete with amazing gargoyles.

Then it was a bit of shopping for – yes you’ve guessed it – some mustard in a variety of flavours. And the “old git’s” antenna was really working today as he spotted a bottle of the much sought after Saffron Gin – which is manufactured locally in Dijon. Apparently it is a real treat over the festive period, with its orange colouring from the saffron. That one wasn’t being opened and was packed away for taking home.

Now the only slight downside to today was that the “old gal” had picked up a bit of a head cold yesterday and was rather drowsy from the paracetamol she got from the local pharmacie. (Well that’s what she told the “old git” anyway!)

But that didn’t stop them enjoying the local delicacy of Boef Bourgignone – a beef stew slowly cooked in red wine, mushrooms and shallots. And the verdict was magnifique! As was the carafe of the local red wine which accompanied it.

Back to the hotel, and what with her cold, and all the cycling, and the fresh air (not to mention the alcohol) the “old gal” was deep in her slumbers by just after 10pm! Mind you we had all clocked up 100 miles in just four traumatic days. Restful it has not been!

This time the dreams were about the 30 mile stretch back to Beaune tomorrow!

Happy zzzzs!

Day three – spoke repairs and a short spin

Day three dawned with the lovely realisation that Team Tandem Ecosse had a second day in the pretty medieval village of Chateauneuf, meaning no frantic packing for the luggage collection. The feeling of being able to relax was however clouded by the fact that I had two broken spokes and needed a repair.

Previously such a delicate matter had been handled by my personal tandem surgeon Ally back at the bike shop in Perth. But today I was going to be in the hands of the “old gal” in her role as Chief Engineer on the trip, assisted by the “old git” who was performing his role of Chief Panic Merchant!

The dynamic duo firstly fuelled up on a marvellous breakfast of cold meats, cheese, croissants and home-made jams courtesy of our lovely hostess at Chez Bagatelle.

Then it was time for my open-tyre surgery! The “old gal” had a short verbal instruction brief from Ally at the bike shop and had taken some spare spokes and a spoke key. But I was a little worried as she was a spoke replacement virgin!

But like the cool and calm Chief Engineer that she is, she performed admirably. Firstly I was turned upside down before the air was let out of my rear tyre – all in full view of passers-by as we were in the garden of the Gite. I mean, can an “old lady” like me not have some dignity! But needs must and the next task was that the tyre was carefully prized off the rim and the old broken spoke removed.

Then there was the fun of inserting a new spoke (already with the bend at the end) into my rear wheel centre. A bit of careful bending of the metal spoke, then weaving it through the other spokes, then finally inserting it into the rim and screwing it home, This process had to be repeated twice to repair both spokes. And by this stage the “old git” was actually helping more than he was hindering, so it was all positive!

Now replacing the spokes is really the easy part – as then the “old gal” had to go round all my spokes to gently tighten them to get my wheel back in alignment.

I have to say full marks to the “old gal” as she did a brilliant job and my wheel was back to being a circle without any buckles. And she was rather pleased with herself – not surprising really considering what a technical job she had just carried out.

So to the amazement of the “old git” in just over an hour I was back ready for action – feeling much better for having the two spokes replaced!  I was ready to resume the adventure and I was basking in all the attention I had been receiving during my “operation.”

Thur - Matilda at Chat

Ready to resume the Burgundy adventure in the glorious sunshine at Chateauneuf.

Both the “old git” and the “old gal” needed a bit of recovery time after the trauma of the engineering job, so they took an hour or so to explore the magnificent Chateau at Chateauneuf. They marvelled at its architecture and its beautiful furniture which has belonged to the same family for 800 years.

Then after a refreshing drink in a local café it was time to get back on the road. As today was a double stopover day in Chateauneuf there was the option of a 16 mile loop to stretch the legs (and stop them from seizing up!) or a longer much more arduous 25 mile circle into the mountains to see some reservoirs.

The “old gal” sensibly chose the shorter route and off we pedalled out of the village – immediately enjoying some serious downhill stretches (which of course we knew we would have to walk back up to return to our Gite.)

We even hit a top speed of 32mph – albeit for a few brief seconds. I was fair enjoying it as no one had ridden me that fast for many a long year I can tell you. But then the shout of “brake” came from my rear saddle as the “old gal” doesn’t like approaching hairpin bends at speed!

We again cycled through some picturesque villages including Commarin – where we were lucky enough to see a lavender field in full bloom.

Just as we were all enjoying some flat cycling we hit the wall again – or at least the next major hill. As our “bible” guide said – “you will climb up hill for quite some time and eventually come out onto a plateau.” Well, after a lot of huffing and pushing and drinks of water, the three of us were never happier than when we saw the plateau.

Next it was time for a gentler downhill stretch – allowing the “old git” to issue his “freewheel” command.

But the road was a bit on the bumpy side and at one time we crashed through a pothole and heard that metallic twang which I now know is the sound of a spoke breaking.

This time the “old gal” decided it could be tied up, in order to avoid running repairs at the side of the road. So on we cycled through Beaume and then Creancy – stopping briefly to admire the very pretty château and gardens.

The last part of today’s loop took us onto the canal paths – which brought a wide grin to the face of the “old gal” as not only were the paths super smooth, but they were flat!

Miles of easy cycling flat paths lay ahead of us and we soon picked up a good speed as we ate up the distance – stopping at the village of Vandenesse when the “old git” spotted a ‘Salon du The.’

It was a great stop as it was run by a British couple who moved out to Burgundy for a different lifestyle some 11 years ago.

The dynamic duo both had a welcome soft drink and polished off a piece of their home-made carrot cake – which seems to have become a staple for my tandemers!

Thur - Di and Tig at t room

The “two old farts” at the ‘Salon du The’ wearing those eye-catching t-shirts!

The pair wore the bilingual “two old farts on a tandem” t-shirts they had designed for the trip for the first time today. And I have to admit I was a tiny bit jealous as they lapped up all the attention, waves, and tooting of horns of car drivers as they appreciated the joke,

Thur - Matilda at tea room

A “brochure” shot of me looking resplendent outside the tea room.

However while they were having their carrot cake – and enjoying their break – they left me beside a wall and I got lots of attention too, with people coming up and taking a look to see that I really was a bicycle made for two. One cheeky person even decided to check if my horn worked. It did!

After picking up a couple of gifts, and refilling my water bottles – we headed off on the home stretch along the tow paths back to the bottom of the hill for the steep ascent to the Gite.

We approached from a different direction and were warned by the “bible” to conserve energy for the “500m of climbing” to get back up to the village. Unfortunately it added: “This is a really steep climb – probably a 12% gradient.”

And it wasn’t kidding! It was a killer, requiring many stops and another ice-cold reviving drink on arrival back at the Gite.

The “old gal” was a bit concerned about that broken spoke, so before locking me up for the night she gave me an inspection which revealed – horror of horrors – that there was a second spoke broken as well. That means another two to be replaced, but again the “old gal” persuaded the “old git” that they could do the repair in the morning before the next leg of the trip.

After a nice cooling bottle of premier cru St Aubin white wine, the “old git” and the “old gal” headed off to dinner with two others doing the same trip – John and Nancy who hailed from the Yukon in Canada.

We had all got to know each other earlier on the trip – and they signed up as a “follower” to my blog! So I am very proud to say Matilda’s Musings has now gone global with my first international follower!

A celebratory bottle of local Cremant ensured everyone was in a good mood and relaxed – before an enjoyable meal at the creperie. It was most educational with the “old git” asking lots of questions about the Yukon and John and Nancy asking lots of questions about tandeming!

It turned out that John and the “old gal” were kindred spirits – as he had an equal hating for hills! In fact, if anything, he hated them more.

What with the cycling, the fresh air, the food and the wine it was all rather exhausting for the “old git” and the “old gal”. So on return to the Gite, the pair were asleep and snoring their heads off within seconds!

No doubt dreaming of more spoke repairs!

Day two – to Chateauneuf (and up hills!)

We all had an early morning alarm call in Nolay so we could be on the road in good time for the second leg of the Team Tandem Ecosse adventure – a 22 mile stretch to the medieval town of Chateauneuf en Auxois.

I have to say the “old git” and the “old gal” were a tad tired at breakfast – showing the effects of yesterday’s long hard cycle. The worrying thing was that yesterday was only the first day of the trip – and there were five more days of cycling ahead! And their legs were already feeling the effects of the pedalling.

So, wisely the “old git” conceded (albeit reluctantly) to the “old gal’s request that they should go for the “shorter” 22 mile trip today instead of the “longer” option totalling 38 miles.

A quick word about how we travel here. You’ll remember that I have been kitted out with some rather fashionable panniers – top and sides at the back, and a top one at the front.

Well they are used for essentials like sunscreen, towels, cycling jackets, some snacks, and a picnic kit. The bulk of the dynamic duo’s luggage is transferred from hotel to hotel by the company that organised the tour, Exodus – leaving them free to concentrate on the cycling.

But that’s not to say that I am not still fairly heavy. Given my age I am a traditional “old girl” made of steel, and with the panniers I am certainly no light thing – as the “old git” and “old gal” will tell you when they are trying to get me up those dreaded hills.

However the positive side is that I am finely balanced, and highly tuned, so that means on the flat I can whizz along without too much effort – and when we go downhill I can build up a fair momentum.

The “old git” and the “old gal” decided on a quick walk through the town of Nolay to pick up some supplies for the picnic lunch – including a trip to a gorgeous boulangerie for a brown baguette. There was the small addition of a bottle of the region’s excellent Chablis wine – which was to prove very welcome later!

Then it was time to saddle up, with a quick photo stop in the stunning old market area of Nolay just to prove we were all there. You see sometimes it seems the “old git” and the “old gal” just take photos of themselves – but as you know, I am the star of the show.

Wed - Nolay Di

The “old gal gets a rare chance to be on my front seat, while showing off my panniers!

The “old git” then asked a somewhat surprised couple to take a Team Tandem Ecosse photo and they duly obliged – although I am sure they were thinking “look at those two sad old gits” as they walked away!

Wed - Nolay Tig and Di

Here we all are – Team Tandem Ecosse – setting off on Day Two.

Now the “old gal” especially was hoping for a day of flatter terrain today. And her hopes were raised when our guide-book “bible” told us we were going to be entering a new phase of the trip – leaving the vineyards behind and entering the region of remote hamlets, great oak forests with cycling through open valleys. It promised picture perfect countryside with “gently undulating terrain.”

Well as regular readers will know, the “old gal’s” idea of “gently undulating terrain” is the relatively flat island of Millport – where most of the training for this trip was done.

Obviously the tour company had a somewhat different interpretation! As an example, today as we left Nolay it was almost immediately up steep hills. And the trip computer said that after nearly an hour and a half we had covered a total of 2 miles with only about 400 yards of that actual cycling – the rest involving a tough push uphill.

So it was a somewhat more difficult start to the day than had been anticipated – though once we got to the plateau we were soon moving along and I was enjoying the feeling of the warm French air between my spokes!

And it was truly picture perfect countryside. We soon came to one of the many magnificent chateaux which populate the area, and decided to stop for a look around at the fascinating Chateau de Corabeut.

After a quick bit of history we were back on the road, winding our way through villages – where the next seemed prettier and more quaint than the previous one.

Just before lunch we all enjoyed a spot of freewheeling as the road descended into the sleepy hamlet of Lusigny-sur-Ouche. Our self-guide “bible” told us that there was a tranquil and picturesque spot for a rest by the river – and it was truly halcyon.

The “old git” and the “old gal” were in their element as they enjoyed their picnic by the river – chunks of fresh bread with slices of ham and some very tasty local cheese accompanied by the freshest of peaches and nectarines … and all washed down with that bottle of Chablis!

I had to laugh when the “old gal” suggested that if there was any of the Chablis left, they could put it into their water bottles. Not because that was such a fun idea, but at the expectation that there would be any left. And yes I was correct, it was all quickly finished off.

So time to head off on the afternoon stretch, with the “old gal” resuming her role of being in charge of map reading and directions. You may remember that they had this map reading apparatus of a plastic map holder hanging on the back of the “old git” so the “old gal” could give directions as they cycled on. And generally it worked very well and was highly efficient.

Wed - lunch at bridge

The “old gal” checking the map after a Chablis-fuelled lunch!

It would need to be said that the “old gal” did a sterling job on the direction front – and that any “wrong turnings” – and there were very few – were really down to what were sometimes confusing instructions in the “bible”.

After lunch we cycled to the lovely market town of Bligny-sur-Ouche. With the sun beating down and the temperature rising, we all decided it was time for a sit in the sunshine and a bit of people watching with a coffee in a café.

Onwards towards out destination, with spirits high (and not just down to the Chablis!). We cycled through the Valle de l’Ouche, following the river in stunning countryside. Then it was time for a stretch along the tow path along the canal. Now this is was perfect as – yes, you’ve guessed – it was flat!

The only blot was quite literally on the horizon as we could see the medieval town of Chateauneuf ahead of us – with its magnificent castle seemingly disappearing into the light clouds!

Our “bible” told us we had a tough end to the day – and it was spot on. The last section involved a very steep climb of about 1km up the winding road to the village.

Never has the “old git” been so glad of spotting a refreshment stop as they (finally) entered the village after at least five stops for water and air on the ascent.

And as the “old git” downed an ice-cold coke – it hardly touched the sides! – he was heard asking the “old gal” why people didn’t build castles on the flat ground as it would make them more accessible to tourists!!!

Somewhat bedraggled we made our way to the stop for the next two nights – a lovely Gite called Chez Bagatelle in the heart of the village.

The “old git” and the “old gal” had a beautiful room looking out onto a lovely garden. However, as my panniers were being unpacked the “old gal” noticed a bit of a problem. I had a spoke problem!

Not one, but two of my spokes on my rear wheel had snapped at some point during the day – which meant that the “old gal’s” role as Chief Engineer was going to be tested to the full.

But after making sure I was comfortable for the night, they both agreed that repairs could wait till the morning as they needed some relaxation.

So after showers and a spruce up, they headed of to the recommended local creperie for dinner – which was a gastronomic delight. The “old gal” had a very tasty goats cheese crepe, while the “old git” had a kebab – but it was a yummy steak kebab. Oh and it was washed down by a bottle of the local red. These French know how to make good wine you know!

Then it was time for early lights out and some deep snoring (on the “old git’s” part anyway!) before tackling those broken spokes tomorrow. Sweet dreams!

Day one – through the vineyards (and up hills!)

I’m back! Sorry for the delay and lack of updates over the past week but the three of us on “Team Tandem Ecosse” have been through the mill a bit – and been just a bit busy with all the cycling  .. and of course the “old git” and the “old gal” have been a bit tired to maintain the idea of a daily posting en route.

So the “old git” decided to abandon that idea and write it up while we were all resting near a beautiful lake in a static caravan near Troyes in the Champagne region.

So the following is all written a week later – but will be each day as it happened on the tour ‘Cycling the Vineyards and Villages of Burgundy’.

So here we go, it is Tuesday morning and the “old git” and the “old gal” were raring to go – bedecked out in their new cycling tops. The “old git” had been given a bright orange Tigger-style top – complete with stripes and the “old gal” resplendent in her saltire top to prove we all came from Scotland.

The excitement was reaching fever pitch as we set off from the hotel in Beaune on the first leg of the tour.

The “old git” – in his questionable wisdom – had decided that we would all start with the “long” 28 mile route … in his words “just to get some miles under our belt.”

The destination was the market town of Nolay – a mere 28 miles away according to our self-guide “bible” which detailed every turn and direction for the next week.

The blurb sounded sensational – “today’s route is picture perfect making your way through the vineyards which line the valleys between the pretty towns and villages.” And I was all set for the  off as well – though the astute among you will realise that there has been no mention of the dreaded “hill” word! Lets just say there is more of that later!

Off we whizzed and the “old gal” said it was wonderful as we breezed along the  maze of little roads – mostly meticulously kept – that run through the vineyards so the vines can be attended to.

Within half an hour we had reached our first stop which was the gorgeous village of Pommard – and the “old git” and the “old gal” indulged in their first (of many) wine tastings in a local cave. I must say I was a wee bit worried as it was only 10.30 in the morning – but it appears they both managed admirably to tell the difference between the cheaper “village” wine, then the more expensive “premier  cru” vintage, before tasting the top priced “grand cru” variety.

Refreshed form that stop we were off again – taking the extra loop which the guide promised would take us into the picturesque valleys surrounding some of the most prestigious vineyards. What it omitted to say was that these were at altitude! Which means hills!

Initially it was no problem, as we sped along flat roads to the village of Nantoux – then it hit us. the first hill, And I mean a hill. The “old git” dropped me down into first gear – and the “old gal” pushed away at my pedals as best she could – but it was no use.

We ground to a halt and for the next half hour I was being pushed up a very steep hill as the “old git” and the “old gal” huffed and puffed.

A breather followed with a slight downhill but then it was uphill again to St Romain – which we now know produced fabulous red wine due to its altitude! So another walking session followed as we climbed a very steep hill. I was getting quite concerned for the “old git” at this stage as he was extremely red in the face!

When we reached the summit it was time for a well-earned break – and  a chance to take on some water. It would need to be said that the views from the top at St Romain – down over the valley of vineyards – was magnificent.

But the “old gal” was more than a bit peeved at all the unexpected hills when we had all been expecting a trip through nothing more than gently undulating countryside.

Tue - Di knacked

“I thought the vineyards were meant to be flat” said the “old gal”! 

The “old git” was equally exhausted – and suffering from a serious bout of overheating – due to a combination of the hills and the temperature soaring above 25C. The only thing keeping us all together was a promise of some serious downhill cycling.

Tue - Tigger knacked!

The “old git” doing a very good impersonation of being totally knackered!

Once we finally figured out the way out of St Romain – the downhill was quite exciting and we managed to reach a top speed of 28mph. That’s not bad for an “old lady” like me you know, especially at my age!

We got a good head of steam going and were soon in a lovely town of Meursault – thankfully with all three of us in somewhat better spirits.

Time for a late lunch, so the “old git and the “old gal” disappeared into the boulangerie for lovely fresh bread then into a supermarket for some cold meats and cheeses. The “old git” brought a big smile to the face of the “old gal” when he bought a bottle of the local Cremant champagne-style fizzy wine.

We had parked up in the town square – directly in front of a lovely fountain – and I was impressed at the number of people who stopped to inquire about me, and how old I was.

The dynamic duo had a great picnic – and the Cremant went down a treat and helped the refuelling process.

Tue - Tig and Di Cremant Mersualt

Cheers! – the first of many picnics with local produce and wine!

Tue - Di cremant fountain Mersault

Cooling down at the magnificent fountain in Meursault.

Refreshed we headed for Santenay – through about 8kms of spectacular scenery through the vineyards. Fortunately they were at lower levels and we were picking up speed and enjoying the flat roads.

A quick stop for a much-needed refreshment – of the soft variety – saw us sitting in the village square. Unfortunately a thunder-storm hit at this point and monsoon-like rain hit! The “old git” was a real hero running out and pushing me under a large tree to keep me (and my saddles) dry and he got soaked for his efforts.

The rain fell and fell and we were marooned for about an hour as it would have been impossible to cycle in these conditions.

Finally the rain abated – and with the air cleared and the atmosphere a bit cooler – we headed off on the final stretch to Nolay.

This was hard going as we still had about 10 miles to travel – and it involved, yes you’ve guessed, a few more hills, including a long slow climb into the town itself.

Somewhat bedraggled at 8pm we finally hit the picturesque hotel – Hotel de la Halle – which was an old Burgundian house located in the heart of the old part of Nolay facing the beautiful market square.

I was parked in a quaint garage, beside a fascinating old car, and I must say even I was glad we had finished for the day!

Just time for a quick pizza for the dynamic duo – one of the best the “old gal” had ever had it seems, washed down by a bottle of local produce –  and then it was time for some serious zzzs.

And then we all do it again tomorrow! Happy Holidays indeed!