I am Robin Hood. Even without the (plaything) weapon I had to abandon due to the fact that airport safety and security apparently do not like those kind of points in hand luggage, I look blood-spattered marvellous. My green tunic matches well over a long-sleeved white shirt, thick black cuffs line my wrists, an arrow-holder crosses my shoulder to sell my non-existent weapons and also my noble steed is hurrying me with the woodland, browsing the terrain with the elegance of a …
Bang. Accident. Oops. A loosened connection on my boot has actually obtained apprehended in the wheel of my mtb, triggering it– and me– to skid throughout the timberland’s loosened, sloppy flooring as well as right into the bike of a senior men dressed in a lion onesie. “Fait attention!” he screams madly, before remounting to cycle off with a mutter of what I’m certain was “Dumb English gal” in his mommy tongue.
As far as attire for biking a 50-mile, off-road training course go, there are better. There are also even worse, such as the instead short, velvet Maid Marian outfit with included princess tiara for “bling” my good friend Jenna is battling to maintain her discreetness in. Not that either people look out of place, mind. We’re participating in La Medocaine, an annual mountain bicycle event around France’s southern Medoc region which encourages participants to embrace a celebration spirit through the methods of expensive dress.
Of course, as the little sis of the Marathon du Medoc, the wine endurance I obtained taken out at last year, that is not the only point we’re being encouraged to accept. All seven option alternatives– which differ from 12 to 50m– lead cyclists not only around the red-wine region’s dreamy chateaux, however additionally with them, to make certain the athletes could rehydrate with a swig of the delightful vintages.
Much to the horror of practically everybody we had announced it to, Jenna and also I have opted to handle the lengthiest option, disregarding everybody’s worries about our ability to complete it with a straightforward reassurance that “we have actually cycled before”. It’s real, although what we haven’t accounted for is that the bike trip doesn’t simply comply with a leisurely path along level, concrete roadways. It additionally includes root-covered woodland, grassy fields, pebbly country streets and vineyards. Whole lots and also bunches of vineyards.
Gravel as well as sand are several of the optimal constituents for growing the red wine as well as cabernet sauvignon grapes in this location. They also take place to be (probably) the most awful areas to pattern on. Crushed rock has a wonderful practice of sending your back wheel flying off right into an arbitrary direction like a throwing horse, while sand simply brings the whole bike– as well as biker– to a stop. By merely mile three it is currently really tough going, and also unnecessary to claim, self-confidence in our capability to finish the path begins waning.
Fortunately, absolutely nothing cures biking depression quite like a chateau stop, and also there are rather a whole lot of them. Each one is like encountering a countryside fair-cum-children’s birthday party– assuming the kid in inquiry is rather partial to a glass or two. There is songs, dance, video games, pirates, the Mario Bros, Shrek and also Princess Fiona, tables filled up with party food (cakes, biscuits, crisps, sweets) and, naturally, a bottle of wine. At around mile 7, we get our initial taste at Chateau Cantenac Brown, and also it does far much more for me compared to any kind of power drink ever before has.
It is a mild sip, nevertheless, because while the French are fun, they’re not foolish. At the very least, the organisers typically aren’t: a man wearing simply a singlet and also a nappy that has an– vacant– container of wine in his bike’s canteen holder by mile 10 could be a bit foolish. In addition to not overfilling our glasses, not every chateau offers the solid stuff, so we’re never drunk or in jeopardy of causing our own selves significant harm.
Not that we could do much damages at the slow rate we’re going anyhow, but after that, the last thing you wish to do when cycling round a location as pretty as the Medoc is go quick. Place it through this, if the Disney princesses made a decision to obtain together for a Real Homemakers of Orange County-esque reality tv collection, this is where they would certainly base it. Each chateau is a small castle, with terrific hulking towers and also lush grounds preened to perfection. The little towns between are patched as well as enchanting, and roses have been planted at the end of every creeping plant, because verdant rows aren’t rather agreeable enough.
Even the excellent looks do not protect against Jenna getting a bit unsteady around mile 30, nonetheless, both psychologically and in regards to her ability to cycle in an upright position. While we natural cottoned early on that my pal works best under the influences of Taylor Swift tracks as well as sugar lumps, there has been a lull in stops, and we have actually sung Swifty’s entire cd two times. Jenna is very hot (it turns out velour isn’t one of the most breathable of materials), tired as well as no longer a fan of cycling. An unfortunate scenario, considering she still has 20 miles left as well as it has actually merely begun to obtain hilly …
Then something remarkable takes place. It turns out that mountain cycling in a gown that reveals your knickers has an upside: the variety of gallant young Frenchmen eager to assist press you up the steep little bits. Distressed to view “the princess” battling, knights and also large strawberries joyfully take it in turns to pattern along with my friend as well as offer her a helpful shove. While I ask yourself if the cycling gloves that conveniently cover Jenna’s wedding ring were really added for showing off reasons, I’m thrilled that we’re back on track.
Seven-and-a-half hours later, amongst a team of Minions, we ultimately pedal over the goal. After investing much as well long absorbing the, emergency room, ambience at each of the chateaux, we’ve been available in even more than 3 hours behind our estimated finish time. Still, it suffices to calm all our doubters, and the container of a bottle of wine we obtain as a completing prize guarantees we leave the merriest of women– as well as not simply in terms of costume.
Vicky tweets @TravellerVicky