Well done to the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association

 

I love cycling and I care about its progress. So I hope it won’t surprise you to learn that I think that the UK should vastly increase the amount we spend on cycle infrastructure.

I am also a bit of a science geek, so I tend to love evidence, even if it doesn’t necessarily chime with my views. Last week, I had one of those moments where I had to smile. It was great.  The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, filmed cyclists at a selection of junctions, jumping red lights. I would like to thank them for this as I feel a weight has been lifted and the may have move the debate on a step by saying something we cyclists couldn’t until now say about ourselves.

Firstly, what I suspect they have done is “mined” their data. They have chosen junctions where they know many cyclists jump lights, rather than a random selection of junctions. Nonetheless it is shocking that about half of the cyclists jumped the lights. But we have to consider that, at a red light, only one or two cars have the opportunity to jump the light. But because they are much smaller, more bikes can get across.

However, I personally don’t think that is the point, and I am happy to leave all my doubts about their data aside. Let’s accept that they have found some fairly shocking evidence and they have demonstrated something that I think is true.

The cycling lobby, small as it is, does tend to portray cyclists as largely virtuous with a tiny minority of people who jump lights, and that clearly isn’t the case.

I’d like to be one of the first to take this opportunity to be frank and honest. I do sometimes jump reds. Not indiscriminately, and not at junctions. But I also drive a car and at times, break the speed limit. I break both of those rules for the same reason. As a rational person, I sometimes act selfishly and break rules when I don’t think there is any chance I will get caught. I do it for personal gain, I get home quicker. In fact I have an hours ride now and like every other day I will pedal my bike through a park with a “no cycling” sign.

The point is that we shouldn’t expect human behaviour to change. And we shouldn’t accept this view that cyclists and drivers are two distinct groups. They are all people and all equally virtuous. No one is happy with the status quo, but it is the system or more to the point the infrastructure that has to change. If it does, the proportion of cyclists behaving “selfishly” will fall. Science FACT.

When the infrastructure is made better and cyclists are safer, the attitudes amongst cyclists, against cyclists that jump lights will harden.

If you want proof just look at the sexual attitudes survey: It has been shown that both men and women are now less tolerant of cheating because, premarital sex and casual relationships are now acceptable. So there can be no justification to have an extra marital affair. In relationships, it’s fine so long as you are both informed and agree.

A similar thing will happen in the cycling situation. When cyclists are totally safe and not harassed by traffic, there will be no justification for “cheating” and jumping lights. The social contract will be renewed.

That’s why it is important that the infrastructure that is put in place is well designed and fair. If it takes you on convoluted routes or means fast cyclists can’t pass slow ones the cyclists will once again renege.

The battle here is that people who don’t use a bike see cyclists as a homogenous out-group. And when you make your case for better cycling facilities, and they agree, they move into the “they don’t help themselves” cascade. If they can’t blame other adults, they then talk about kids on bikes etc. until they can put you in the in-group with them and “bad” cyclists in an out group. This means the “bad” out group of cyclists become to blame and the status quo gets maintained. Its only when I have time to think about it that I get to realise that the out group is always, just another group of normal people reacting to their situation.

The red lights thing is the fastest way to close this discussion down, because it quickly finds the “bad” out group. If you say you do jump lights then apparently that takes away your authority to speak. It’s like saying: “I am a bad person”. But the truth is this evidence coming to light is great. It makes us face reality. No cyclists are pious; they lie and cheat and so does everyone else. But bikes are a mode of transport which should be available to everyone who lies and cheats, not just fit people in the prime of their lives that lie and cheat.

London in particular needs a dedicated cycle network. Not only to curb the air pollution but also to take the pressure off the rail network. The roads are saturated with cars. We can barely get any more on. If we want more people to be able to move around London at a reasonable speed, clean air that’s safe to breathe and transport that is affordable, then I would suggest that mass cycling is the way to go.

Taxi drivers and cyclists have interests that align. These two groups should not be at each other’s throats. Cars in London travel on average at 9mph. In that context they aren’t vehicles, they are just large polluting mobility aids. And to be fair, there are a lot of cars carting fat people around the capital.

Not everyone can get about on a bike. That’s why it is so tragic that at the moment only the young and fit feel they can cycle to work in London. There are lots of able bodied people in empty cars, spending hard earned cash, to clog up the roads. If we made cycling to work a really attractive offer, we could get most of the able bodied, onto bikes like they have done in Holland. I would love to see London’s roads left for talented professionals like our black cab drivers, delivery vehicles and those with a genuine need, such as the disabled.

What we need is a small amount of protected road space, a carrot to get more people on bikes, and a few rules that leave the majority of the roads to the pros and those with most need.

It’s already happening. Private car ownership peaked in London in the early 90’s, we now have zip car and people like me in their 30’s just rent cars as and when they need them. This is progress. Let’s not get in the way of it. Let’s work together to make sure it happens faster. Cab drivers will get more fares, cyclists have cheap healthy safer routes to work and fewer people will feel the need to haemorrhage their hard earned cash on servicing vehicles and petrol.

Tell me why that wouldn’t be better?

Can you be a MAMIL at 30?

lycra

This weekend I turn 30. It has kind of crept up on me, but to be honest I don’t feel too bad about it.  As it is winter and we aren’t running any Wine Rides Weekends till it warms up again next May. So I am back working in TV.  The Project is fantastic but sadly still highly confidential and in the early stages, so I can’t say much about it other than in order to get my head around a fairly complex subject matter I spent the day categorising sea animals so I could understand how they relate to each other.

The easiest group by far was the “Mammals” basically if it has nipples then it’s a mammal. As the weather has turned and I have once again started my Sisyphean daily journey into London and back each day, I have regained the thinking time that comes with cycling to and from work. This led me to wonder if I am now a MAMIL in the cycling sense.

The average commute time in the UK is the largest in Europe. On average we Brits commute for 45 minutes a day as opposed to 23 minutes in Italy or 24 minutes in Germany. In fact, our average commute is 20 minutes longer than the average American commute which may be a surprise to some people.

In addition to running Wine Rides Ltd I am a freelance Assistant Producer, so I work for several production companies. As a result my trip into London is generally 50 minutes to an hour on bike. The longest daily trip I’ve had to do is from my house in Crystal Palace to the BBC in Shepherd’s Bush at a whopping one hour and 10 minutes. I found that so draining that I only did it for days a week, and tended to take the train in on Friday.

If you have not come across the term yet: a MAMIL is a slightly derogatory term for middle-aged man in lycra. I do wear lycra when it gets cold, but I think my impending 30th birthday made me conscious of my age and for some reason this stopped me wearing lycra for my commute. The situation came to a head yesterday when it rained badly, and I really didn’t want to get my workload soaking so had to don the lycra once again.

I had a quick look at the reasons that cause such long commutes. A major cause of “extreme commuting” which is people who commute more than 90 minutes a day is the fact that most members of a couple now work. Certainly this has been a factor in mine and Hayley’s commutes. We’ve moved closer to Hayley’s work, but that has on average increased my commuting time.

I hate to keep having a go at the car as a mode of transport, but I was also horrified to see what effects commute time has on people who drive to work. Only 3% of journeys in the UK are made by bicycle. And, generally, any time you spend exercising ads, only the exact amount of time to your life expectancy that the exercise took. So if you don’t particularly like exercise then that probably isn’t worthwhile time you’re adding to your life. I tend to find I do enjoy exercise and the something about the monotonous action of peddling, which creates space in your head and time to think. I’m sure having your hands and legs occupied is a massive help. When you’re riding a bike, it’s very hard (though not impossible) to check emails.

According to Mark J Penn ‘Extreme commuters are at greater risk of dangerous behaviour like road rage as well as health problems. Dr John H Casada, the specialist in road stress has said that the longer people’s commutes are the more likely they are to suffer road rage, which can lead not only to violence, but also heart attack, stroke and ulcers’ and Researchers at Georgia Tech have found that every 30 minutes spent driving increases your risk of becoming obese by 3%. That’s not surprising given that In 2005 ABC/Washington Post poll on traffic found 4 in 10 drivers said that while in traffic jams, They eat.

Robert Putman also found that for every additional 10 minutes you spend commuting you have 10% less time for family and community activities. Which is particularly cruel as most of us who have chosen to live further away from work, did so to get a better quality of life.

Amazingly “the WHO, said that when it comes to cancer, it now considered air-pollution to be even more dangerous than smoking.” And it turns out that drivers are at particular risk from air pollution because of the amount of time they spend sitting in traffic directly behind the exhaust pipe of the vehicle in front. It’s also been shown that including physical activity in your commute reduces your risk of colon cancer by 34%.

So on balance, I’m inclined to think that commuting by bike, not only saves me money and gives me time to relax at the end of the day and think about what I need to do, but it also appears to be reducing the rate at which my ageing body is rotting.

I’ve always thought of 30 as basically being middle aged. When I say this, it normally causes consternation amongst my friends. But the way I see it if you live to 90 years old then, the first 30 years, are the first third of your life. The second 30 years, are the middle third of your life, and the last 30 are the last 30. So if you’re 30+ you’re in the middle period of your life. However, Wikipedia informs me that this is not the case. Middle age is considered to be the third quarter of your life. The first quarter is childhood, so that doesn’t count (??? I don’t quite know why).  And apparently because of the increase in life expectancy middle age has increased from 41 years to 53 years.

That being the case, I was slightly disappointed to discover that I have not reached “MAMIL” status yet. Unfortunately, it will be quite some time before I am officially, or at least biologically a middle-aged man in lycra. So if like me, you’re about to hit 30. Please stop flapping; don’t do what I did, there is no need for an age induced wardrobe crisis. And hey, in the mean time I am pleased to announce, that I do have nipples, so I’m still a mammal in the conventional sense.

1987: The last Victorians

The clocks just went back and our evening’s suddenly got a lot darker, so I was really glad when I popped to the post office and my new toys had arrived. I have got myself a very powerful white LED torch for the front of my bike and a fancy new laser rear light that projects two parallel red lines behind me, to create a virtual bike lane around me as I cycle.

It’s a really small thing, but it is another example that we are living in the future.

We have just experienced the worst storm since 1987. As I was out and about, I am ashamed to say that I was a little disappointed to not see more carnage. If you did experience any significant damage to your property then I am very, very sorry if I seem insensitive, but to be honest having spent the night worrying about the tree outside our house coming in on us I was disappointed to see that the only trees that had bitten the dust last night were sort of smallish medium sized ones of a single species.

I don’t really remember 1987 I was 4 years old, so I thought I would take a quick look online and try and work out for myself how the world has changed in the last 26 years.

It is almost half a degree C warmer and there is about 13% more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and 2100,000,000 more people live on the planet. British Airways is in private hands now, The Simpsons is still going, as is the rugby world cup which both started that year but the Berlin wall has fallen and unfortunately the Dusky Sea sparrow was not the last species to be driven to extinction.

Computers are loads better now. I do remember the boast that there was more computing power in a Gameboy (1989) than it took to get men on the moon, well guess what, we now think Gameboys are rubbish! They’re basically more like rocks than modern computing devises.
Houses on average were £40,000, they are now £200,000 but on the other hand microwaves have really come down in price. 90% of households own one now rather than the 25% in 1987 which had one, so it’s not all bad.

To be fair in Western Europe in the last ten years only drug offenses have increased. All other forms of crime have decreased and the global picture looks even better: All world total battle fatalities jumped 65 percent in 2011/ 2012 because of Syria, but remain less than one-fifth of the average level of the 1980s.

So the truth is that some stuff is worse now: the average age of a first time mum is now 29.8 years rather than 24 years and the average age of a first time home buyer is 35 as opposed to 24 years in the past. In fact in London the average age of a first time buyer is now a not so spritely 52years old.

But many things are much, much better now. Electronics are much cheaper and therefore entertainment and communication is much cheaper. Gas, petrol and steel are more expensive, but then there are quite a lot more people competing for those essential things. Most of us now live in cities, huddled together we will probably use less materials per head than in the past, and it has to be a good thing that globally more people are better educated.

So in conclusion; I can now order a 500 lumen light emitting diode lights for my bike. In 1987 this would not have been possible because neither the internet nor the high intensity white LED had been invented. It’s harder than ever to own your own home and/or procreate, but you get HBO dramas on Sky Atlantic pretty much the same day they are out in the USA and the entirety of human knowledge can be accessed instantly in moments.

Looking back to 1987 amuses me, because I can’t help but think in the fossil record there will be a sort of visible fossil layer that appears in the late 80’s early 1990’s. I think it will be the change over from the industrial Victorian period were everything was mechanical, and then the age we are living in now, which I think is electrical, but who knows what it will turn out to be.

My old bike lights had a bulb. Just think about how ridiculous that is. Even lighting your home off the mains that way is ridiculous. A bulb works by heating a filament until it is so hot, that it glows white hot. That means we used to light our homes and our bikes with electric heaters that just happen to give off some light. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a very pragmatic Victorian approach, but sophisticated it is not.

We are wrecking the climate so storms like St Jude will increase in intensity and become more frequent. Technology means we are much better at predicting the weather so some of the damage to our stuff is mitigated. Any animals without a web connection will just have to take their chances. Humans are safer and more comfortable now than they have ever been. We are fatter and less healthy, but safer for sure. In developing nations people are being lifted out of poverty faster than at any other time in history, but in the west living standards have arguably plateaued at a quite high level.

I personally am a bit of a fan of the present and am very hopeful about the future. I have tried to be as objective about the differences between the Britain hit by St Jude and the Great storm of 1987. How you feel about these differences is up to you.

Personally I think it is interesting and important to be aware of the areas where we really are worse off than in the past. But it is equally important to acknowledge where we are materially much better off.

Making Wine and Friends with Transition Towns

Laura with grapes

Laura picking grapes

I am Alex Baines-Buffery, the Director of Wine Rides. It is a company that provides short cycling holidays, where the guests camp on British vineyards. Recently I was delighted to be invited to lead on a wine making project with the Crystal Palace Transition Town.

We picked the grapes from a local garden. The owner’s late husband used to grow grapes and make his own wine. Having her husband’s kit lying in the garden collecting algae and the grapes being left to the birds was upsetting her and it would have been criminal, to just throw the stuff away. So the Transition Town group picked up that baton and my loose association with wine meant I ended up “leading” this project.

I work with vineyards, but I am not a wine making expert. I am just someone who likes to do things. I particularly like making processed foods from scratch at home in my own kitchen so I learn how it’s done. I had brewed alcohol before but it was always made in isolation, for my own consumption. In the past when I had dabbled in these things it has been driven by my curiosity. This time it was different, it was fantastic. I was brewing as a social activity.

 

Proccessing grapes

When I was a bee keeper, I used to enjoy making mead which is honey wine.  I had never made wine from grapes myself so this was an opportunity I jumped at. Grapes make the best wine because they have a higher sugar content than other fruit. As a result the alcohol content produced is high, and that in a nutshell is what you need for making wine. At the end of the day wine is a method of preserving food. Personally I think it is really important to keep that in mind.  If you forget what wine is for, you leave most of the pleasure in wine behind.

Sadly wine has been partially captured by thugs. It has been elevated beyond food and turned into a commodity. In the past, many people had a line of demijohns running up the steps of their house, the Silent Generation made their own wine. In fact home brewing only fell out of favour with the Baby Boomers. Almost all my brewing equipment was kindly donated to me by strangers in their 70’s and 80’s and it is a source of immense pride to me that I can help the Transition Town keep these country wine making skills going.

 

Grape tred

Grapes being tread

grape tred 2

Feels great

I level that charge of thugary at anyone who would sneer at a hobbyist making their own wine. Professional wine makers through years of experience and skill will be able to make a materially better wine. But getting involved with the Transition Town has taught me that buying a bottle and consuming it will never be as rewarding as drinking wine you have made yourself with friends.

If wine is just about consumption then we should be drinking: Tempranillo Garnacha at £3.29 a bottle. It is a quite nice and very drinkable Rosé wine from Aldi. The price has been dropped simply because the weather has got cold, and customers have turned away from rosé in droves.  The way to get the most enjoyment out of wine as a commodity is to buy low and drink high.

Wine is a preserve, it isn’t perishable, so the clever thing to do is track the price of wine and pick them up when they are on offer and lie them down until they are back to their average price.  That sort of thing is a lot easier than it used to be. Set up a series of Google alerts track wine critics on twitter and read the wine sections of all the major papers online and you will get a few tips.

 

I’m not much of a stamp collector, so if I see good wine sold under value, I buy it and drink it and as a result can’t get any further recognition from my friends for my cleverness.

Let’s face it: many are put off wine because the thugs use it as a status symbol. Some people wreck the fun for all of us by using wine and their knowledge of wine as a proxy for their wealth and therefore status. Knowing about wine signals you have disposable income. It indicates that you either have enough wealth to have repeatedly drunk an expensive product or you are so intelligent that you can remember the minutia of some fairly similar drinks or both.

Wine should be about taking the harvest and capturing it. It’s about taking the good times and spreading them out across the year.  If you want something fun to do with a bunch of mates, or even your family, I really encourage you to go to the grocers and see what is in season. Sweet fruit is a natural source of sugar and any fruit can be turned into wine.

Whatever is in season that month should be cheap in the grocers. EVERYTHING you need to know can be found in First Steps in Wine making: http://amzn.to/1aVwajJ

 

Wine stur

October is the time for grapes and hawthornberry wine. November is the time for bilberry, cranberry, sloe wine, sloe gin and English Port which is made from elderberrys, black berries and sloes. Every month has its own flavor, all you have to do is get involved and discover them for yourself.

Many branches of Wilkinsons (http://www.wilko.com/) still sell the kit you need and everything is easily available online. It is not hard to do; it’s just hard to master. It takes time, your wine probably won’t be ready to drink for 12 months, and you may have to give up some space in a cupboard for the brew but here’s the thing. The old boys that home brew wines and beers regularly beat the professionals in blind taste tests. This is because they don’t need to worry about the bottom line. Hobby brewers gild the lily and know how to make fantastic drinks.

I am not there yet but I know what knowledge I would rather have. If I drink a wine and there is something wrong, I would like to be able to say what I think the maker did wrong and how I would remedy that problem.  I don’t particularly feel the need to be able to say “ummmm, that was a very good year, in …… but I prefer the ….. “.  It is the difference between being an artist and a collector. As soon as you accept that wine making is an art you can see it for what it is.

Please don’t be put off by those who would scoff. Haven’t you always wanted to tread some grapes? I have only made wine a few times, and the fact is that the first few times it won’t be your best. That’s the nature of skill. If you want to have a go at this and insecurity is holding you back, just remember, if it isn’t good, you can change the recipe, you move on and learn.

Hayley and wine

My feeling is that people who really know about wine, as in they have made it, tend not to harbor prejudice against the country wines. Most people will admit grape wine is the best, it is the highlight of the year but there are some really good country wines.

The trouble is wine is exactly like art, people who know what they are doing, tend to know what they like, people who don’t seek validation from others. They don’t have enough points of reference and so they panic and dismiss things out of ignorance.

There’s no need to do that. If you’ve got grapes, make grape juice add sugar if needed, add yeast, and BOOM! You will have wine. Let the yeast settle and decant it the liquid into another vessel. Repeat once a month, until you have a crystal clear, highly alcoholic fruit beverage.

If you don’t have grapes use something else. The only thing you have to remember is to consume with friends and it’s all about the journey, not the destination.

Subscribe to our Musings

* indicates required



Email Format

Loire Valley France

 

IMG_9612 The first thing to say is that it is a really beautiful place to go cycle. As described in the previous post we rented a camper van from Spaceship Rentals, loaded up at home the night before and then drove to Dover and got the ferry to Calais and drove the rest of the way down starting our holiday proper at Chateau Chambord.

 

Normally we do “proper” cycle touring holidays, so using the campervan was a departure for us. While we were out Hayley and I tried to remember why we had booked this instead of doing what we normally do: Look at where we can get the train to in Europe and then see if we can plan a nice multi-day ride in that region.

 

As far as we can work out there were a few reasons: The seat post on my bike has fused to my frame. So we thought it wouldn’t go in a bike bag and therefore we would not be able to get it on the Euro star. It turned out this was wrong.

 

Even with the seat still attached, I can get my bike in a bike bag. However if you do want to take your bike on the Eurostar you have to be able to bag it. Or you will need to book your bike a ticket and that is more expensive. At the moment my bike doesn’t have a Pannier Rack, so it takes up less space, which is why I can get it bagged with the seat in place.

 

I think the other reason we booked this holiday was that I had recently become quite interested in camper vans. One of the first people to come on Wine Rides was a chap called Sam Woolf, who owns a campervan, which he created himself. I think in the back of my mind I wanted to see what campervan holidays were like in case I one day decided to emulate him and convert my own van.

 

Spaceship rentals, who we used, are an excellent company. Their camper vans are well appointed, well-organised and their staff are very friendly and professional. We were unlucky, the first vehicle they gave as had a few problems.

 

When I picked up the vehicle, the one thing they emphasised was not to drive it with the check engine light on. Our vehicles seemed to be one of the older ones and there was quite a lot of vibration coming from the engine. The first time I attempted an overtake on the motorway, the check engine light came on. After that, if I drove over 55 mph or we went up a steep incline, the check engine light came on. As a result, from the car Hayley had to call Spaceship rentals and tell them what the problem was.

 

We had a ferry to catch and were determined to use our ferry ticket. I’m not sure whether they guessed, but our plan was to get the car to France and then call the RAC out and have roadside recovery.

 

To their absolute credit Spaceships dealt with the problem immediately. They offered as a replacement vehicle and told us that they would refund any cost from changing our ferry ticket. As it happened, we only had to pay £40 to change the ferry and push it back a few hours.

 

Jose from Spaceship’s drove a new vehicle down to us and met us in the car park at Dover. We did have to wait, but because there was an on-board DVD player we basically just chilled out in the campervan watched a couple of episodes of Black Books and looked at what we might do the following day. We got our refund and the second vehicle performed perfectly for the whole trip and they were very apologetic.

 

Because we live car free, the one thing that really surprised me is how totally shocking the traffic in France is. I know we were travelling down on a Friday, but the congestion around Rouen is amazing.

 

We had time, so we’d set our satnav to avoid toll roads in France. If we do it again, I think we might just pay the tolls and make our way south, avoiding the traffic. The 2 ½ hours of bum numbing boredom, is not something I want to repeat on a holiday.

 

Hayley doesn’t drive, and normally when we go away, I really enjoy getting lost in my Kindle while on the train. So having to do this long drive on my own, that was something I really missed.

Camping

View from our pitch

View from our pitch

 

We were there out of season, and the Loire Valley was very quiet. All the campsites we stayed in were beautiful quiet, clean and lovely. We found them using the Michelin Camping France 2013 book, which I recommend.

These are the main ones we stayed in:

– Municial le bec de cisse near Tour

– Azay la rideau Camping municipal le sabot in Azay- Le- Rideau

– Camping municipal de L’ile Auger in Chinon

High Lights:

Magnificent Chateau Chambord

Magnificent Chateau Chambord

Chateau de Villandry

Chateau de Villandry

Hayley Chateau Chambord

Hayley Chateau de Villandry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The two highlights from the things we visited were Chateau Chambord which I can only describe as a BSO (Big Shiny One) and Chateau de Villandry, which has the most amazing ornamental kitchen garden in the world.

The town of Tour is lovely and they have a great cathedral but the best place we went for dinner a was a town called Amboise. It is small and touristy, but very, very beautiful. We half chanced upon it on a day ride and I liked it so much that I insisted we drive back on our selves and have dinner there one night. I like to relax have a drink with dinner and therefore hate driving in the evening. But in this instance it was totally worth it. True to form as an Englishman, I had Steak and Chips followed by three cheeses, Amazing.

I love it when your on holiday and you find somewhere, where you cant help looking in estate agents windows and seeing if you could afford to live there, followed by a whimsical discussion of what job you could do that would let you live in a country where you only have a “reasonable” grasp of the  language: “Adequate jobbing author” was what we settled on. If anybody knows a moderately talented, though not exceptional, British author living in Amboise, then please could you ask them how they are finding it and let me know. I may be interested in adopting their lifestyle.

Cycling in the Loire Valley:

 

IMG_9608

It is really good. There’s this Loire Valley cycle path which runs for hundreds of miles. For the majority of its length. It’s basically a single carriageway of tarmac which is exclusively used by cyclists and pedestrians. The landscape is (I think) very flat. Hayley really enjoyed it and thought it was a brilliant place to ride.

It’s not pancake flat. It does undulate and that means that you’re always comfortable on the bike. You are never held in the same position for too long. Personally I thought it was a little bit tame, although I totally agree that the landscape is really beautiful and there are some amazing vistas that allow you to see for a long way. But to be honest, I prefer it to be a bit more up and down, because I like going fast downhill and enjoy the challenge of getting up a big incline. That being said, the Loire Valley is probably the perfect place to go cycling particularly if your fitness level is not amazing, or you’re starting out cycle touring and for whatever reason you’ve been gripped by some madness which means you’ve decided against booking a Wine Ride with us!

Conclusion:

We are probably not going to do another campervan holiday anytime soon. Although I can see the appeal of it. I think bikes work best with camper vans when you use them as an ancillary mode of transport for just getting to and from dinner. We both really like making cycling the primary activity when we are away. It’s the way I want to see the countryside and its the best place for me to get away from all my day-to-day worries.

The trip also really brought home to me how much I absolutely hate being stuck in the car. The trains in France are great and although the journeys are more expensive I think the costs basically equal out in the end anyway. As for the Loire Valley, that is definitely somewhere I would go back to. I don’t feel we saw it all, and it’s such a beautiful part of France that it shouldn’t be missed, whether you’re a cyclist or not.

Oh and the wine is good!