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.
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!
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.
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!