Day one – sunny tandeming on the Loire a Velo

Team tandem Ecosse and Team Yukon ready for Le Grand Depart at Blois.

Team tandem Ecosse and Team Yukon ready for Le Grand Depart at Blois.

tdf-wine-september-5x7It is Tuesday morning and after a sound night’s sleep after the long drive, the “old git” and the “old gal” were raring to go on Le Tour de Loire Valley du Tandem – taking in the majestic fairytale chateaux and vineyards of the area on a near 200 mile trip from Blois to Angers.

Breakfast time at the La Maison de Thomas – our luxury Chambres d’hôtes – saw Team Tandem Ecosse and Team Yukon wearing their new multi-lingual dayglo lime green cycling tops for the first time! Let’s just say that the group of four cyclists are going to get noticed along the way.

Pouring over the map over a double espresso revealed that yesterday’s decision to visit the iconic Chambord chateau by car was definitely the correct one. The route outline for the direct stage 1 route to Amboise is measured at 42 km, while the option of an initial detour cycle to Chambord would have added some 48 km to the day. This “old lady” thinks that trying to tandem 90 km on the first day would have been a cycle too far!

So the two teams were in boisterous spirits as we met the representative from the French-based cycle touring company Cyclomundo who explained the itinerary of the self-guided tour and handed over the hired solo bikes to Team Yukon riders John and Nancy.

My dynamic duo - the "old git" and the "old gal" - ready to go!

My dynamic duo – the “old git” and the “old gal” – ready to go!

I was retrieved form my cosy overnight safe spot of the inner courtyard, and after a quick photo call, it was time for Le Grand Depart. But before we headed out of the beautiful town of Blois there was the important job of procuring supplies for the first picnic of Le Tour!

Now you know the “old gal” and the “old git” are connoisseurs of the grand picnic and the first key ingredient was the purchase of a couple of bottles of the local Cremant de Loire – a locally produced fizz which is effectively their version of champagne, but with a little less fizz. So the prosecco picnics, much enjoyed when back home in Scotland, will now be known as Cremant picnics for the duration of Le Tour!

Then some nice hams, cheese and grapes were purchased – along with a freshly made baguette. All was safely packed away in my shiny blue and white stripped cool bag – complete with detachable freezer blocks. Very cool!

We headed out of town over the landmark long stone bridge – the Pont Jacques Gabriel which dates from the 18th century – before turning on to the cycle track which runs along the banks of the river. This was our first experience of the much anticipated Loire à Vélo – an immense 800-kilometre cycle tourism route. It is a véloroute like no other in France – running along the banks of France’s longest river, the Loire, through a valley dotted with countless treasures.

And my dynamic duo’s immediate impressions were very favourable – being highly impressed at the smooth surface of the cycle friendly paths and all the clear signposting.

You can check out the details of  our route on the first day of our Tour de Loire Valley du Tandem from Blois to Amboise on Strava below – and don’t forget to click on the map image to get the full date and statistics!

lvday1strava

We soon picked up a good steady pace of 15 km/hr as we headed out into the countryside, hugging the Loire, before heading slightly inland and crossing the Cosson river and tandeming through quaint small villages of Chailles and Cande-sir-Beuvron. This included some lovely tracks through a forest including a scenic tree tunnel, which required the “old gal” to dismount and take a quick selfie!

Big smiles from the "old gal" when she saw how flat the cycle paths were!

Big smiles from the “old gal” when she saw how flat the cycle paths were!

In what seemed like no time we reached the half way point, the village of Chaumont-sur-Loire – the venue for our first Tour picnic, against the backdrop of the fabulous Chateau de Chaumont right on the banks of the Loire. The “old git” had even thoughtfully got me a new “Bon Appetit” sign to add to the decadence of the occasion.

My new "bon appetit" sign completed the decadence for the Tour picnics.

My new “bon appetit” sign completed the decadence for the Tour picnics.

A suitable picnic area was found in a park, and with temperatures reaching a somewhat toasty 30C corks were popped on the bottles – with the cold Cremant was a welcome way to rehydrate!

Cheers! the Cremant toast on the first picnic of the Tour - in warm sunshine.

Cheers! the Cremant toast on the first picnic of the Tour – in warm sunshine.

The French bread, ham, cheese and grapes were all quickly devoured in a bid to restore energy levels.

Double Cremant de Loire picnic carnage - hardly a crumb left!

Double Cremant de Loire picnic carnage – hardly a crumb left!

At this point we met up with an American family, who lived in Saudi Arabia, who were doing a similar Loire valley ride. The Mum and daughter (Sarah and Grace) were on a parent-child tandem while the Dad (Mark) was on a solo bike hauling all their luggage on a cart. My French horn proved to be a great attraction to Grace and it was dutifully parped several times before the obligatory photo.

My dynamic duo with Sarah and Grace from Saudi on their parent-child tandem.

My dynamic duo with Sarah and Grace from Saudi Arabia on their parent-child tandem.

After our alfresco picnic was enjoyed by all, the “old git” and the “old gal” decided to seek some shade from the fierce sun for a little rest. And of course they couldn’t resist playing up the effects of the Cremant with a couple of silly photos!

The "old gal" pretending (I think!) to be spangled after the Cremant picnic!

The “old gal” pretending (I think!) to be spangled after the Cremant picnic!

Me and the "old git" having a quick post picnic snooze!

Me and the “old git” having a quick post picnic snooze!

After lunch it was time to visit the Chateau de Chaumont, which hosts a feast of artworks in its lavish grounds as well as hosting an annual International Garden Festival.

My dynamic duo having fun in a selfie showing the gorgeous lavender in the gardens.

My dynamic duo having fun in a selfie showing the gorgeous lavender in the gardens.

One of the many artwork installations is an infinity platform looking out over the Loire – giving impressive views.

To infinity and beyond! The "old gal" at the infinity viewpoint overlooking the Loire.

To infinity and beyond! The “old gal” at the infinity viewpoint overlooking the Loire.

Every year, more than 400,000 visitors flock to Chaumont-sur-Loire, which has hosted the International Garden Festival since 1992. This year it was celebrating its 25th anniversary with a “Gardens of the Coming Century” theme.

It was a fascinating showcase of garden designs which addressed the big questions of our time – such as climate change, rising sea levels, “floating gardens” and the link between habitat and gardens. One garden – called Frankenstein’s Nature – caught the eye in more ways than one with an interesting double mirror set-up.

The "old git" and "old gal" in reflective mood in the Frankenstein's Nature garden!

The “old git” and “old gal” in reflective mood in the Frankenstein’s Nature garden!

After enjoying the gardens in the heat, a recuperative soft drink was required before setting off on the final 20km to the next overnight stop in Amboise. My dynamic duo decided to pick up the speed for this leg and pushed along at about 20km/hr, at times hitting a top speed of 36km. I must say I was impressed with their fitness, and the pre Tour training regime has certainly paid off as I was fair flying!

With a few undulations and the temperature rising further the “old gal” thought it would be a good idea to stop at a bar for another cool drink. And would you believe the place they stopped at – called Volupia Cave – was indeed a bar but also a wine cave and deli offering tastings of locally made wines and goats cheese. The “old gal” who is an expert in both, thought she had died and gone to heaven!

The “old git” amazingly even found a local red with the his name on it! So a bottle of Chateau de Colin was duly purchased, along with some cheese for tomorrow’s picnic.

The "old git" had to buy the Chateau de Colin red wine.

The “old git” had to buy the Chateau de Colin red wine.

Then it was time to get back on the road for the final few kms into the medieval town of Amboise, known for its chateau and for hosting Clos-Luce, the last mansion of Leonardo da Vinci.

We arrived at our residence for the night, Maison Blanche,  set in a beautiful private  grounds about 2km on the outskirts of the town. After a quick inspection form the “old gal” in her role as “Chief Engineer” I was locked up safely for the night after a successful first day tandeming with no mechanical problems. Let’s hope it stays that way!

After a ritual tasting of the Chateau de Colin – and a nice vintage it was! – Team Tandem Ecosse and Team Yukon headed into the old town centre and enjoyed a savoury galette (pancake) meal washed down with some cider while discussing events of the first day of Le Tour and planning the second stage from Blois to Tours.

And after the exertions of the first day sleep soon followed – with everyone very glad we had not gone for the 90km option!

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Nous sommes arrivé

tdf-wine-september-5x7It’s Monday and “Team Tandem Ecosse” – the name used by Team Matilda on foreign soil! – have arrived safely in Blois deep in the heart of the Loire Valley region of France – and are already sampling the local produce!

Between them the “old git” and the “old gal” have driven the 800 miles or so since leaving central Scotland – and heading for the French autoroutes , via the Eurotunnel – and arriving in the atmospheric town of Blois at the start point for the 7 night self-guided Le Tour de Vineyards et Chateaux de Loire Valley du Tandem!

Safely in Matilda Transporter on Eurotunnel for the crossing to France.

Safely in Matilda Transporter on Eurotunnel for the crossing to France.

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 finally arrived in France – after almost a year of planning. I guess this poster sums up how we all felt in the last few days!

Neatly summed up!

Neatly summed up!

It seems a long time since Saturday night when the pair served up a toast of French fizz – the final remaining bottle from last year’s trip to Bordeaux! – during a tasty Scottish-themed meal at local restaurant Mimi’s.

Dinner - pre dpearture for Le Tour - with a champagne toast, naturally!

Dinner – pre departure for Le Tour – with a champagne toast, naturally!

But the good news is that they do lots of fizz in the Loire Valley – the Crémant de Loire comes particularly recommended – so that will obviously have to undergo several strict taste tests by the “old gal” and the “old git”  to see it is up to standards!

So Sunday dawned and 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.

Here I am carefully loaded and strapped in to Matilda Transport for the journey to France.

Here I am carefully strapped in to Matilda Transport for the journey to France.

We quickly ate up the miles on the M74 to stop at Gretna for breakfast before heading  south to the M25 and then the tunnel at Folkestone. This time the “old gal” and the “old git” were in firm agreement to stick to the tried and tested west coast M6 route south than try the roadwork-hit A1(M).

First pit stop and time for a welcome breakfast coffee!

First pit stop and time for a welcome breakfast coffee!

Lunch was a picnic stop (no prosecco on this occasion however!) It was a long trip but I was very comfortable in my new fancy Matilda Transporter. I was ratchet strapped in and I even had two inflatable pillows to rest on, so that my ageing frame was protected from too much shaking en route! You know, the old dears really do look after me like the “old lady” that I am!

The “old gal” and the “old git” also really enjoyed testing out the new vehicle on such a long drive – and found it very comfortable and spacious.

The "old gal" enjoying a cup of her favourite double expresso after a driving stint.

The “old gal” enjoying a double expresso after a driving stint.

As you know the dynamic duo are so committed to the cause of tandeming, that in order to fit me into the vehicle, they have to sit in tandem while driving, with one occupying the driving seat, and the other sitting in the single “back seat” that is usable. The new Matilda Transporter has lots more room and we all really felt part of the team. The “old gal” can drive, while the “old git” has a chill and a snooze – and then they swap over every two hours.

At the Eurotunnel terminal there was time for a quick pit stop of a burger, before driving on to the train for the short 35 minute crossing. Just enough time for a selfie-video on the train! (Remember if you are reading this on email, you need to click on the blog first – via the link at the bottom of the email – to view the video.)

Arriving in Calais at around midnight French time, we had decided to simply start driving towards Blois and the Loire Valley.  Fortunately the new satnav helped guide us onto the toll roads and even though it took us almost right though the centre of Paris on the suburban motorway network – including a diversion for roadworks which saw us right outside the Stade de France in the Saint-Denis suburb – we made good time. And just after 4 am – some 19 hours after we left Matilda’s Rest we pulled into a service station on the outskirts of Blois for a few hours kip.

As forecast, it was fairly hot and sticky in the car, and I was “fair meltin’” in Matilda Transporter – even with the air-con on! With the mercury set to hit 30 C, I therefore predict some very sweaty riders over the next few days as we head off on the grand adventure.

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?!

SLV Cyclomundo logoo demain (getting right into the lingo here!) – that’s Mardi (Tuesday) – we head off on stage 1 of the grand tour we have chosen for this year – the Fairytale Castles and Vineyards along the Loire Valley which will see us tandeming around 200 miles through the world-famous vineyards and stunning chateaux of the region.

The self-guided tour is organised by a French-based company Cyclomundo as they seem to know the area inside out. The seven day tour starts in Blois and finishes in Angers.

The route of Le Tour de Loire Valley du Tandem

The route of Le Tour de Loire Valley du Tandem

You can see the route map above, and you can check out the the full daily itinerary of the tour  by clicking here.

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 after some much needed kip – and negotiating the complicated one way system around the town of Blois no less than three times – we we all arrived outside the La Maison de Thomas – the first of our luxury Chambres d’hôtes, or bed and breakfasts, of the tour. I was unloaded, tested, and parked up in a very safe inner courtyard. Clearly other people are doing similar cycling trips – but on single bikes. I am chuffed to say there are no other tandems around! Quelle surprise!

Unloaded, and fully tested - outside La Maison de Thomas in Blois.

Unloaded, and fully tested – outside La Maison de Thomas in Blois.

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 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! Combined with the hi-vis yellow team t-shirts, we are not going to go unnoticed! But whisper it, I think that is part of the plan!

Safely locked up in the inner courtyard - spot my saltire flag!

Safely locked up in the inner courtyard – spot my saltire flag!

I was safely deposited in a very nice inner courtyard before my dynamic duo set off on a quick exploration of the town, and find out where the parking was for Matilda Transporter.

Then it was finally time for Team Tandem Ecosse to meet Team Yukon  – solo cyclist friends Nancy and John who we met in Burgundy during our week long tour there in 2014. They live in Whitehorse, which is the capital of the remote Yukon territory in northern Canada.

The Yukon is a mere 3,930 miles (or 6,319 kilometres) away from Matildas Rest in Perthshire – so logistically it all seemed a trifle mad. But Nancy and John flew from Canada to France – they are hiring bikes in the Loire Valley – and amazingly we all managed to meet up!

My dynamic duo even surprised them by picking them up from the station and driving them to the hotel for a quick toast to the impending Tour with a rather tasty Cremant de Loire – I mean it would have been rude not to sample the local brew!

Cheers! The first of many toasts with Team Yukon - Nancy and John.

Cheers! The first of many toasts with Team Yukon – Nancy and John.

It was great to meet up with Nancy and John again – with everyone greeting each other like long lost friends! And I know Team Tandem Ecosse and Team Yukon can’t wait to get pedalling.  Given that everyone has a great love for good French food and wine … and a similar dislike for hills, it is going to be a great trip!

We had decided we would kick the chateaux part of the tour off with a visit by car to nearby Chambord – described as the jewel in the crown of the many chateaux of the region. There was an option of visiting it on the first day of cycling tomorrow, but it entailed a lengthy 30 mile additional detour from the original planned route of 28 miles – so car seemed the sensible option!

Chambord - the jewel in the crown of the Loire Valley chateux.

Chambord – the jewel in the crown of the Loire Valley chateaux.

The royal Château de Chambord  is one of the most recognizable châteaux  in the world because of its very distinctive French Renaissance architecture which blends traditional French medieval forms with classical Renaissance structures. The huge château features no less than 440 rooms, 282 fireplaces, and 84 staircases. Or as the “old gal” said: “I wouldn’t like to be in charge of the hoovering!”

The "old git" looking every bit the tourist while taking in the sights at Chambord.

The “old git” looking every bit the tourist while taking in the sights at Chambord.

So after a self-guided tour – to get us in the mood for the self-guided tandeming – we headed back to hotel before a pre tour dinner at a recommended restaurant in Blois – which involved a walk across a beautiful bridge over the Loire.

The beautiful bridge over the Loire at Blois - lovely walk to dinner.

The beautiful bridge over the Loire at Blois – lovely walk to dinner.

After a very convivial meal – and drinks! – my dynamic duo managed to squeeze in an amazing late night son et lumiere performance at Blois chateux. Then it was time for some very necessary zzz’s before an early rise as we set off on the start of our 200 mile adventure tomorrow.

Fingers crossed! A bientot !

P.S. Eagle eyed readers will be aware that the blog is being written after Le Tour de Loire Valley du Tandem was completed, due to lack of time.

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The final countdown to Le Grand Depart and a new Matilda Transporter!

tdf-wine-september-5x7I have to admit I am getting uber-excited about the imminent “Grand Depart” for the Tour de Loire Valley du Tandem. Just a few  more sleeps then me, the “old git” and the “old gal” – aka ‘Team Tandem Ecosse’ – will be heading south from Matildas Rest to the Eurotunnel.

Then it’s a drive down the auto routes to the wine region of the Loire Valley for the start of the 7 night tour of Le Tour de Vineyards et Chateaux de Loire Valley du Tandem!

I am actually finding it difficult to sleep as there are lots of preparations and packing to do before the off. And it won’t surprise you to know that the “old git” has drawn up list upon lists – and there is even a list of lists!

The “old gal” just rolls her eyes and smiles sweetly, knowing it is easier, and far less hassle, than to argue! But she gets her own back sometimes, putting her foot down and saying “No, we will do it this way” and the “old git” sheepishly has to agree, because he knows it makes sense, even though he is loath to admit it!

But the “old git” always manages to turn the “old gal” round with the promise of filling up my bidons – or water bottles – with wine direct from the vat of wine in one of the many wine tasting caves along the route! How she smiles at that!

Apart from all the usual packing stuff, there has been the added excitement of a new arrival for Team Matilda! Yes we are now the proud owners of a new Matilda Transporter! We took delivery over the weekend of a brand spanking new Peugeot 5008!

My dynamic duo decided that the old version of Matilda Transporter – a 9 year old Mitsubishi Outlander – had done good service but it was time to change for something more fuel economical and which hopefully wouldn’t cost as much to maintain.

So there has been much pressing of buttons on the new vehicle over the weekend to see what all the techno gadgets do! I really have to say I am most chuffed that they decided that the first point on their checklist when comparing new models of car, was that it had to accommodate me! Isn’t that sweet?! I mean they really do look after me!

The natty new Matilda Transport - a Peugeot 5008 with loads of room inside for me!

The natty new Matilda Transport – a Peugeot 5008 with loads of room inside for me!

A quick plug for the Peugeot dealership here – Hardie of Stirling – and their excellent sales person, the ultra-friendly Scott Douglas. My dynamic duo tell  me that from start to finish Scott was a delight to deal with – and couldn’t have made the whole process of buying a new car any easier and stress free. He was not at all flummoxed when my crew first went into the dealership and said: “We have an unusual request. Before you start talking to us about the performance and price of the car we need to see if our tandem fits in the back!” Scott was more than happy to indulge my duo, and even helped get all the seats lying flat to ensure I fitted in.

In fact, you often hear people say of their experiences with car salesmen: “Don’t buy a used car from this guy”. Well my crew are turning that on its head and saying: “Buy your new car from this guy!” I am told you certainly won’t be disappointed with the customer service!

Now I know many of you have spent sleepless nights wondering about how a grand “old lady” like me gets transported to the south of France by car. Do I go on the roof, or on the back of the car?

Well, the answer is neither. Because I am a “real” bike made of steel, I am too heavy to go on the roof, and I am rather too long to go across the back on a standard bike rack. So here is the answer:

How I travel inside Matilda Transporter - it really is very comfortable you know!

How I travel inside Matilda Transporter – it really is very comfortable you know!

Yes, my dynamic duo fold most of the seats down in the new Matilda Transporter, including the front passenger seat, and I can squeeze in taking up every inch of length from the dashboard to the tailgate.

Then one-third of the rear seat comes back up. As you can see the dynamic duo are so committed to the cause of tandeming, that in order to fit me into the vehicle, they have to sit in tandem while driving, with one occupying the driving seat, and the other sitting in the single “back seat” that is usable.

Oh the glamour! All 3 of us packed into Matilda Tranporter!

Oh the glamour! All 3 of us packed into Matilda Transporter!

And that is how we will all travel the over 800 miles from Auchterarder to the start of the tour in Blois, near Le Mans! Although there’s more room than the previous Matilda Transporter it’s still a bit of a squeeze – but we all feel part of the team, and it is actually great fun. One can drive, while the other has a chill and a snooze – and they will swap over every two hours.

My dynamic duo have also been testing out the map reading system they have come up with – so they can follow the in-depth directions of the self-guided tour at the same time as cycling.

As you will see, they have devised a see-thru plastic map reading folder which hangs on the “old git’s” back. This contains the instruction manual – aka “The Bible” – and will stop it getting wet. This means he can focus on his duties as Chief Pilot and keep us going smoothly as he is in control of the steering!

The see-thru plastic map reading folder which hangs on the “old git’s” back.

The see-thru plastic map reader which hangs on the “old git’s” back.

Meanwhile, the “old gal” can read the instructions – as the map reader will be hanging just a few inches in front of her nose – while she focuses on her role as Chief Stoker. That means she can do the map reading and shout instructions to the “old git” as to whether they are turning right or left.

And, yes, obviously that will be “à droite” or “à gauche” once we are en France!

Now I have to tell you that the “old git” has been getting into the French spirit – literally! To gel with the French and in the spirit of keeping alive The ‘Auld Alliance’ between France and Scotland he gamely decided to get his big toe nails painted – one with the Scottish saltire flag and the other with the French blue white and red tricolour flag!

The "old git's" rather eye-catching 'Auld Alliance' nails!

The “old git’s” rather eye-catching ‘Auld Alliance’ nails!

He got the treatment done professionally by Louise Raphael Nail Artist who works with the “old gal” in her salon! And I must admit the results are quite spectacular and impressive! They will look fab in his desert sandals when he doesn’t have his cycling shoes on!

Anyway, I must stop writing this blog and go and get more things ready – the “old git” is speaking loudly about some other list! Seems we have still to check the tool kit and the first aid kit. Oh joy!

But the good news is that it will soon be Sunday morning and time for Le Grand Depart from Matildas Rest – so not long to go now!

So please do “follow” the blog to keep track on our adventures. Please also get in touch – by leaving a comment on the blog – to wish us “Bon Chance”!

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Le Tour de Loire Valley t-shirts arrive – in hi-vis green, naturellement!

The grand unveiling of Le Tour de Loire Valley t-shirts! Subtle eh?!

The grand unveiling of Le Tour de Loire Valley t-shirts! Subtle eh?!

Quelle excitement! (See I am learning the lingo!) There is just over a week to go till Team Tandem Ecosse – our fancy name for Team Matilda abroad – set off for Le Tour de Loire Valley du Tandem and excitement is reaching fever pitch at Matilda’s Rest!

Team Tandem Ecosse is meeting up with Team Yukon – solo cyclist friends Nancy and John who we met in Burgundy during our week long tour there in 2014. They live in Whitehorse, which is the capital of the remote Yukon territory in northern Canada.

The new Le Tour de Loire Valley logo!

Le Tour de Loire Valley logo!

So the “old git” persuaded the “old gal” that they really had to get new t-shirts for this year’s trip – after the success of the previous tours’ electric pink and electric yellow numbers.

So this year the shirt would have to reflect the Scottish-Yukon link up and to ring the changes, the “old git” decided on electric lime green – naturellement! (Me thinks he is having  a laugh, personally! The “old gal” swears he IS having a laugh!)

The vivid hi-vis colour will certainly ensure  they get noticed. The  “old gal” decided that the t-shirts should try to be amusing and make people smile. For our first trip in 2014 to Burgundy the design which said “Two old farts on a tandem” certainly did that!

That was followed by last year’s message of “Always better when we’re together” – which again attracted considerable attention in France.

Like my dynamic duo, Nancy and John have a love for good French wine, so this year the wording is “We’re here for the ride … and the wine!” – complete with a tandem logo for us and solo bike logo for Team Yukon. The t-shirts are again bi-lingual, with the English version on one side and French on the other!

So after in-depth consultation with the French language experts at Google translation, and a consultation with a friendly linguist, the dynamic duo came up with the phrase: “Nous sommes ici pour la balade … et le vin!”

The t-shirts are bi-lingual in electric lime green! There is no hiding place!

The t-shirts are bi-lingual in electric lime green! There is no hiding place!

Wording done, it was then simply a matter of handing over the design artwork to a good friend of the “old gal” called Gill, who along with her husband Kevin run Sprinterz in Perth – who are digital print and embroidery specialists.

The highly professional team at Sprinterz came up trumps producing  amazing t-shirts, in that fetching electric lime green colour, made of lightweight cooltex material. There was even space for the web address for my blog!

The arms of the t-shirts have the specially created Le Tour de Loire Valley logo on one sleeve, and team names on the other. And on the back they added a Scottish and Canadian flag to mark the Scottish-Canadian links. Clever guys or what?

They arrived today and when the “old git” saw them, I thought he was going to have heart failure as he was so excited! He couldn’t wait to get the selfie stick out and get a photo in the garden in the new garments!

T-shirt sleeves - complete with Le Tour de Loire Valley logo and team names!

T-shirt sleeves – complete with Le Tour de Loire Valley logo and team names!

However I have to admit they are rather nifty, although I am not totally sure just what Nancy and John will think of them when they see them for the first time when we all meet up in France and realise they have to put them on for the tour!

But perhaps the coolest thing about the new t-shirts is that the “old git’s” has the French version on the front and English on the back, while the “old gal” has hers the other way! That means if they are walking side by side in France, no one will be in any doubt that they are tandemers!

If you ask me they are a right pair of attention seekers, but then I am just jealous – albeit I totally agree with the “we’re here for the ride … and the wine” sentiment on the shirts!

Sprinterz_Logo_wThe shirts really are brilliantly designed and made – and here is the plug … if you need t-shirts or any kind of items digitally printed or embroidered then you have to contact Sprinterz! You won’t be disappointed!

lv image 2So just to recap, the tour we have chosen for this year is Fairytale Castles and Vineyards along the Loire Valley which will see us tandeming around 200 miles through the world-famous vineyards and stunning chateaux of the region.

The self-guided tour is organised by a French-based company Cyclomundo as they seem to know the area inside out. The seven day tour starts in Blois and finishes in Angers.

caption here for map with details of what it shows

The route of Le Tour de Loire Valley du Tandem

You can see the route map above, and you can check out the the full daily itinerary of the tour  by clicking here.

The Yukon is a mere 3,930 miles (or 6,319 kilometres) away from Matildas Rest in Perthshire – so logistically it all seems a trifle mad. But Nancy and John will fly from Canada to France and hire bikes as we drive to France in Matilda Transporter to enjoy the tour together.

This “old lady” of a tandem is certainly looking forward to having company of fellow bikes on the trip – and I know Team tandem Ecosse and Team Yukon can’t wait to get pedalling.  Given that everyone has a love for good French food and wine and a similar dislike for hills, it should be a good match!

So please do “follow” the blog to keep track on our adventures. And we’d love you to get in touch during the tour – by leaving a comment on the blog – or just to wish us “Bon Chance”!

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