Does anyone really enjoy cycling?

Last night I was kept awake with the noise of ducks doing something that rhymes with their name. I can only assume that’s what they were doing. From the moment my head hit the pillow the noise they made was positively primeval.

I couldn’t help but admire Mr Drake – every 10 minutes or so – or just as I was drifting off, he’d start up again.

I wasn’t sure whether Mrs Duck was loving or hating it but on one level I couldn’t help wishing Mrs Jones made this much noise. On another level I wanted to wring the f***ers’ neck. They kept it up until well past 2am!

It was an inauspicious start to the day of cycling we’d been putting off from our arrival. Every day the bikes I’d hauled onto our cycle rack were looking at me accusingly as its other brethren sped past on the saintly Loire Velo cycle route.

Anyway since when did bicycles in France become “velos”. The one French word I knew for sure and loved saying was Bee-See-Klet, now all of a sudden they’ve changed it just when I got the hang of it.

It’s a bit like how tidal wave has become tsunami and lizard is now gecko, as a 60 years-old man this is bothering me!

Does anyone actually like cycling I ask myself? Within a few moments of setting off on our trip where it’s supposed to be impossible to get lost we’d got lost on the woodland paths alongside the Loire.

The route’s other claim to fame is that it’s so flat and easy. It wasn’t long before we came across the first hill where Mrs Jones loudly announced “I’m not enjoying this”, a sentiment I couldn’t help agreeing with.

It’s not that we’re unfit, every other day we run 5k or more but there’s something about uphill cycling that hurts big time.

On the steepest hill of our 15km ride to Saumur my rusty bike chain started clunking alarmingly. We bravely persisted for another few kilometres until about 8kms into our journey we decided we’d had enough and using my bike chain as an excuse we gave up and headed back to our campsite.

First stop on the way back were some troglodyte caves where they turn the plentiful local apples into a delicious dessert wine.

We felt liberated by the alochol and the joy of coming ‘home’ and vowed to get my bike fixed and give this Loire Velo lark a proper go one of these years.

We were even inspired by an older – probably just by a couple of years – British couple riding tandem who told us about a retro bike ride that takes place here, every first week of July.

Already tonight is our last night in the Loire, it’s whizzed by. We spent a couple of hours necking the local sparkling rose before enjoying a final – excellent meal – at the campsite restaurant.

The campsite’s filling up tonight and normal life feels like it’s returning.  Not far from us there’s a group of young couples playing modern dance music which is a joy to hear.  Am off to bed now hoping our lusty duck neighbours will keep the noise down.

Published by brianjonesdiary

Dad, husband, brother and son. Interested in travel, politics, sport, health and much more. Semi-retired and aiming to making the most of life as I approach my sixth decade.

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