I 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!
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:
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.
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!
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!
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”!