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.
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!
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!
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!