Reflections on the Tour du Tandem 2015 …

Ready for the challenge ahead!

Fresh and ready for the challenge ahead!

During the week of relaxation and recuperation further south in the shadow of the Pyrenees at Pau, there was plenty of time for Team Tandem Ecosse to reflect on what was an incredible tour du tandem, 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 the quiet cycle lanes and back roads of the beautifully scenic Medoc triangle of Bordeaux.

The vineyards of the Medoc.

From the serenity of the vineyards of the Medoc…

The scenery was fabulously eye-catching and a real joy to experience and provided real brain food with some stunning images as we  tandemed along – experiencing an incredible contrast between the serenity of the vineyards to the wild Atlantic coast, all the time being at one with nature.

The wildly beautiful Atlantic beaches.

… to the wildly beautiful Atlantic beaches.

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 vineyards and beaches of the Medoc – and the area’s friendly people.

That journey was so much more satisfying for us being self-propelled at the slow pace of a tandem. Every view of a vineyard or an Atlantic beach lasted so much longer.

All smiles at Hourtin Port.

Fantastic scenery – including at Hourtin Port.

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 lots of local people, many of whom tooted their support and issued friendly “bonjours” as they passed Team Tandem Ecosse – unmissable in their multi-lingual day-glo cycling shirts – in their vehicles. And of course the other cyclists we met along the way – with whom we shared a special bond (even if some had those pesky e-bikes!)

But perhaps the most important thing is that the “old gal” (aka Diane) and the “old git” (aka Colin) did it as a real team – through thick and thin, and even when pedalling back on ourselves to the previous junction to take the “correct” turning.

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

Togetherness - even after 21 hours in the saddle!

Togetherness – even after 21 hours in the saddle!

And even after 204 gruelling miles and 21 hours in the saddle 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! Given my dynamic duo’s liking for gorgeous wines, they tell me the Loire Valley has some fascinating vineyards and châteaux – and it’s flat! ….

Here’s the review that Team Tandem Ecosse posted on the website of the holiday company Exodus. (You can also read it on-line on the website here – and scroll to ‘Reviews’.

*****

Incredible journey on two wheels – dipping into wine and ocean.

We cycled the Beaches and Vineyards of Bordeaux trip on our classic tandem – which really did offer double the fun on a bicycle made for two! This trip is based in the spectacular Medoc triangle on the left of the Gironde estuary. The scenery was spectacular every day – switching from pedalling through some of the most famous vineyards in the world which were literally groaning with grapes ready for harvest, scenic wine villages keen to offer tastings, and magnificent châteaux overlooking the vineyards to the amazing contrast with the wildly beautiful Atlantic Coast where nature was truly in charge, the towering sand dunes and the pretty seaside towns.
Sensational outlook at Soulac-sur-Mer.

Sensational outlook at Soulac-sur-Mer.

It was made all the more memorable by the warmth of the sunshine – and the friendliness of the many locals we met en route who, despite our lack of French, were understanding and helpful and 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. Coming from an area where there are very few dedicated cycle paths it was amazing to see the cyclist being given such a high priority. The surfaces were of motorway standard which made cycling a real joy and easy to cover the relatively large distances required. The organisation was exceptional – all hotels knew of our impending arrival and the luggage transfer was brilliantly easy. Our luggage was actually waiting for us in our rooms when we arrived at our accommodation. Billed as a “leisurely” activity level, this truly is a family friendly route which will create many memorable moments etched in your memory bank. This is one of those rare occasions when you wish you could award six stars!!

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 local Bordeaux wine to wash it all do wn!
The suggested lunch stop at the small port and lock gates at St-Christoly-Medoc on the trip from Pauillac to Soulac is truly halcyon. Great cafe there serving coffee for just one euro!

The "old gal" with our gastronomic picnic!

Time for a gastronomic picnic!

We would recommend a thorough read-over of the day’s route before leaving each day – 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 – especially when, as we were, on a tandem!
This was billed as a leisurely trip and it certainly was. Mile after mile of flat and very well surfaced cycle paths which were a joy to travel on.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Doing a trip like this really is a fantastic experience and will provide a wealth of great memories!
And if you do it on a tandem – like we did – it does bring you closer together!
You owe it to yourself to do it!
We wrote a blog of our adventures on our tandem – called Matilda’s Musings – where our tandem (aka Matilda) gives her in-depth account of the trip.
You can read our adventures here:
https://matildasmusingsdotcom.wordpress.com/

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7 thoughts on “Reflections on the Tour du Tandem 2015 …

  1. What a lovely post. Know just what you mean about being a team and sorting things out together when “lost “. Seeing the world, the sights, the nature at a slower pace and enjoying the scents that are totally missed when in a car. It is an enticing trip, although we normally do a greater distance each day I now actually think that maybe we should try this trip some time.

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    • Well we both think tandeming is a great way to travel. This particular trip really is highly recommended. Extra mileage is not a problem, especially if you get lost or just do an extra spin!

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  2. Hi Matty. I think your old dears are thinking of changing profession. Sounds like they are going in for arranging cycling holidays. If you have had enough for a while, just get a puncture or three making sure the spare has some too !

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  3. I am sorry that I missed this one – it’s a very sweet post – “Togetherness in the Saddle” a good title for a film or a TV show. I mean if the Hairy Bikers can get a network show on BBC2 then I am making a pitch for this to be screened. I think it would be a lot more civilised and a lot more informative about a wide range of issues!!!

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