This is the story of two old fools, les ‘deux fous’ (and one fous’ long suffering wife) on bikes who followed in the pedal steps of Rob and Jon, pioneers of ‘Wine-ding down through France’ from Calais to Montpelier. Fous número un is Grant; more than ably assisted by his wife Kirsten, and fous número deux is Ben, Grant’s brother. Neither have a great deal of experience in long distance cycling but the gap in experience is made up for in bulldog spirit. Both are closer to 50 years of age than would ideally be the case for this sort of endeavour. It would also be fair to say that Bradley Wiggins would not have to fear losing his place on team Sky to either of these ‘athletes’.
This is not a training manual, we assume you understand the needs of long distance touring if you are considering undertaking this wonderful route. We also assume you have also travelled at least within the EU and understand the differences in culture and facilities available in France. This is our account of what is cycling heaven. We have broken down the journey into each day’s stay, and we will be publishing the full GPS route.
The journey eases one through the wine regions of Champagne, Bourgogne and the Cotes du Nuits, through Beaujolais and into Rhone, Languedoc and Roussillon. We pass through the historic towns and cities of Arras, Reims, Dijon, Lyon, and Avignon on our way to the Mediterranean. The journey will take 16 days, 2 cycles and 1 car for support. This is Grant’s dream to mark his 50th birthday in August 2012.
The original plan was to undertake a quite different ‘end to end’, John O’Groats to Land’s End, but a cycling trip by Grant and Kirsten to Bordeaux and the wine region of the Medoc put paid to that. To decide to go to France rather than JOGLE was not a difficult choice really, as one could either face a prevailing wind and the rain of an English summer or follow the sunshine and the tailwinds flowing down the Rhone valley to the sparkling Mediterranean. Rob and John’s book was also an inspiration and a huge help in terms of route finding. And what a route it is. It has to rank as one of the finest cycling journeys in the world.
The advantages that JOGLE has over Calais-Montpellier are listed in a book that has yet to be written and I guess that will be a very short book. I also guess if you don’t like French food, wine and the exquisite countryside, flat roads, courteous drivers, cycle lanes and sunshine then JOGLE wins hands down. JOGLE also has the ‘advantage’ of starting in a part of Scotland not that renowned for its ferry, air and rail links.
I have tried to make this as easy to follow if you wished to make a similar journey. The best place to start is to read Preparations (when we did scant few) and then the route (with accompanying strava.com link). The next place would be the Story with my account of the adventure, and if you wish to delve in a more immersive experience I recommend Ben’s blogs which are indicated by the “”Read More” links.
As we said above, this is not a training manual, but more as a guide for the type of experiences you can gain as you pass through France “at the speed of a lazy sparrow”.
I hope you enjoy our adventure…
What happened next?
My passion for cycling grew and grew as my health and fitness grew, and the weight fell off. I am now a much lighter and happier person, with my own cycle coaching business
Together with Ben, in September 2019 I rode from Roscoff (Brittany) to the base of Mont Ventoux….now that’s another story to be told….