February 2009 and London is just emerging…

February 2009 and London is just emerging from the bitter shock of the most snow it has seen for 18 years. Who would want to get on a bike, who even wants to think about getting on a bike ? I never expected to be so keen on bicycles. Until a couple of years ago, my bike had been efficiently gathering satisfying layers of dust, rust and disinterest. Then we moved to rural France to start a new and simpler life.  It’s wonderful to drive through the vast, green, undulating landscape characteristic of Burgundy. Even better to stop, perhaps by the side of the Canal de Bourgogne and after a short walk, a cup of strong coffee and maybe a chocolate biscuit you realise that you have covered only a fraction of the view around you. We began to wonder what it would be like if we had a bike with us. We could quickly immerse ourselves deeper into the view. With more than a little struggle we dug out the bike rack and attached it to the rear of the car. Thirty minutes later, a couple of adult bikes then a child’s bike and a bike seat for our boys and we were ready. With just a little effort, Burgundy was beginning to unfold itself before us. Later a trailer-gator, double chariot and finally a tagalong and we were deep into the whole smug fit biking family look, but we were able to cover a few kilometres rather than just a few hundred metres. We discovered glorious views, each a secret to treasure. We kept saying to each other with a barely suppressed childish joy, “we live here”.  Now, I’m sitting at the kitchen table listening to news on the radio cursing that we were smartly bypassed by the snow.  Each day there are new ideas to adapt routes and make them better. I’m itching to get back on the bike to try them out. The sheer childish pleasure of a glorious descent down a magnificent hill is a life enhancing feeling. The joy of sitting by the towpath after a few kilometres, with a drink and a baguette stuffed with Comte, ham and a splurge of mayonnaise being overwhelmed by the silence is a far cry from the life we left behind. We moved to find simplicity and our bike tours extol the virtues of slowing down and giving youself time to look and marvel at the abundance of nature and the landscape it inhabits. I can’t think of a better way to spend a warm spring day than gently cycling en famile through this teroir and thinking that if there was a God, he really got it right here. Vive la France, Vive la Vie et Vive le Velo.

Andrew K

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