It’s Monday and “Team Tandem Ecosse” have arrived safely in the wine capital of Pauillac in the Bordeaux region of France – and are already sampling the local produce!
Between them the “old git” and the “old gal” have driven 1,100 miles since leaving central Scotland – and heading for France, via the Eurotunnel – and arriving at the start point for the Tour de Tandem de Vineyards and Beaches of Bordeaux.
My dynamic duo were almost deliriously happy when we first set wheels on French soil as we drove off the Eurotunnel train at Calais as that meant we had arrived – after almost a year of planning. I guess this poster sums up how we all felt in the last few days!
It seems a long time since Saturday night when the pair served up a toast of Cremant – the final bottle from last year’s trip to Burgundy!
But the good news is that they do a variety in Bordeaux too – which will obviously have to undergo the strict taste test to see it is up to standards!
While enjoying the Cremant (that could read ‘as a result of enjoying the Cremant’) the “old gal” decided it would be a good idea to paint the “old git’s” big toe nails in the blue, white and red colours of the French flag! Gamely the “old git” agreed and I must admit that I was rather impressed with the results! They will look good in his desert sandals!
So after some much-needed sleep, the alarm was duly set for 7 am and, after much checking, double checking and even triple checking, we set off at 9 am.
We quickly ate up the miles on the M74 to stop at Gretna for a bacon buttie before heading further south. But the “old gal” had persuaded the “old git” to try crossing the country at Penrith on the A66 before taking the A1(M) down towards London, then round the M25 and out towards the tunnel at Folkestone.
Lets just say that it may have been 30 miles shorter but – due to an unfortunate series of tailbacks due to heavy traffic and roadworks – we were actually 1.5 hours longer than using the traditional west coast M6 route.
I was very comfortable however and I even had two inflatable pillows to rest on, so that my new pedal crank shaft was protected from too much shaking and shoogling en route! You know, the old dears really do look after me like the “old lady” that I am.
There was time for a quick pit stop of a burger at the tunnel terminal before boarding the train for the 35 minute crossing.
Arriving in Calais at 11 pm, we decided to simply start driving towards Bordeaux. Well the gods were against us as the “old git” and the “old gal” had to drive through some torrential downpours – which were definitely unscheduled – and also a most unwelcome satnav detour right though the centre of the Paris suburban motorway network.
So as dawn began to break they decided to continue driving through the night – two hours off, allowing the other to dose – rather than both stop for a sleep. And so at 9am, exactly 24 hours after we left Matilda’s Rest we pulled into Pauillac.
Despite the rain it was fairly hot and sticky in the car, and I was “fair meltin’” in the Matilda Transporter – even with the air-con on full blast!
I therefore predict some very sweaty riders over the next few days as we head off on the grand adventure – with similar hot and sultry showery weather forecast.
That means I will need to remind the “old git” regularly to apply the sun screen however – as he is very prone to sunburn with his sensitive skin. The “old gal” has just said: “It’s the only thing that is sensitive about him!” But I feel sure she is kidding! Right?
So demain (getting right into the lingo here) – that’s Mardi (aka Tuesday) – we head off on stage 1 of the grand tour – heading through some of the world-famous vineyards – including Chateau Margaux – on a round trip back to Pauillac of 35 miles. That’s just stage 1 of 6 – totalling around 180 miles in the saddles for my dynamic duo!
Remember you can follow the route here on the Trip Notes from travel company Exodus, which also has lots of other interesting information on the tour.
The good thing is that the luggage gets moved by vehicle from hotel to hotel by the travel company, so I wont have to carry all that excess weight!
So we all arrived outside the famous Hotel de France et d’Angleterre on the Gironde river estuary in Pauillac by early morning – with me being unloaded, tested, and parked up outside the dynamic duo’s room which was luckily on the ground floor and a veranda.
Clearly other people are doing similar trips – but on single bikes. I am chuffed to say there are no other tandems around! Quelle surprise!
The “old git” even got me a nice new saltire flag to hang from the “lollipop” which not only warns drivers that we are a wide load but that we are from Scotland, as well as a trendy new flashing red light for when dusk sets in.
And the “old gal” dutifully remembered to switch it to the other side of the bike as we are going to be cycling on the wrong side of the road for the next week! Bless!
After my duo had unpacked and made sure I was ok and safely locked up, they disappeared for a walk to get their bearings, and have some lunch.
Pauillac really is a quaint and beautiful seaside town – and we all look forward to getting to know more about the area in the next couple of days.
Meanwhile the “old git” took a photo of the “old gal” at the main marina – just to show willing!
The dynamic duo decided they would celebrate the start of the holiday with a nice lunch in Pauillac – after a couple of tastings of the local wines in caves. Even though it was technically before noon, the “old gal” was offered, and it would have been rude not to!
The wine washed down a fantastic beef burger for the “old gal” – cooked rare, just the way she likes it – and the local ‘moules frites’ speciality for the “old git.”
Then it was back to the hotel and some afternoon zzz’s before an early rise as we set off on the 180 mile adventure tomorrow.
A bientot !