Can a wine-tasting tour of Burgundy count as a warm up ride Stuart?
Yes, apparently it can! So, we decided to spend two nights with Tom Kevill Davies aka The Hungry Cyclist at his new lodge near Beaune - www.thehungrycyclist.com This turned out to be a great idea for several reasons; Tom is really lovely, interesting and knows lots about the local area, wine, food, cycling etc. The lodge is a lovely old mill house (which sleeps 10), with beautiful gardens, a swimming pool, and gorgeous views across the vineyards in Auxey-Duresses. The food and wine are obviously amazing. Possibly more importantly for us it turned out that Tom cycled up the Mekong River a few years ago and so he was able to give us lots of advice. He even found his old map of Laos which he kindly gave us and a great contact (a Canadian restauranteur!) in Luang Prabang! His advice to get on a boat along the river in North Laos seems very sensible to me, especially when he told us how hilly and rough the roads are there. Stu has said I am in charge of the Asia section...
Planning the Laos routes Views over the vineyards We had to cycle miles to get this lunch
As for the actual cycling...Tom, Stuart and I headed off in the morning for a relaxed ride through the vineyards to get some lunch. Tom was a great guide, telling us loads about the vineyards, the wine, the barrels etc. Unfortunately we started with a (very - it seemed to me) steep hill. I am not the best at hills and not the best at anything in the morning (a theme that will run through lots of these blogs I am sure). This hill served as a timely reminder that I need to be a lot stronger before September - I am so excited about Rwanda in five months time, but the 'land of 1000 hills' could prove to be an 'interesting' country for Stuart and me as I try my best to keep up with him and Thandie, without any tears and tantrums.
In the afternoon Stuart and I headed to Santenay where we visited a cave and did a little wine tasting (three glasses of red and of white, and the old trick of 'forgetting' we were meant to spit it out). We then decided to take the scenic route back to Tom's over the Mont des Troix Croix. My cycling legs had kicked in - I am sure the wine helped- and I actually enjoyed this hill, which was much longer than the earlier one, and the view from the top was definitely worth it.
Cycling through the vineyards A few of the wine barrels Top of Mont des Trois Croix
So, first warm up ride over. Yes, I need to get fitter on those hills, but I am feeling pretty good about things. I am sure that the food, wine, comfy beds, pleasant temperatures etc will be very similar in Africa - otherwise surely Stuart wouldn't let me call this a warm up ride....