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HOLIDAYS I DELUXE CYCLE TOURS


Life of Luxury S


itting around the blazing fire in the comfortable surroundings of our Home Counties house, just after the annual Christmas gorge, I began to ponder the Summer ahead and where our Summer holiday may take my wife and I. Feeling the urge to stretch my legs, I embarked on attempting the epic journey to the bathroom and upon passing the large full-length mirror I was shocked to see the reflection of Monty Python’s Mr Creosote staring back at me. Anyway, having celebrated my fifty-fifth birthday earlier in the year and vowing to do something about my waning fitness and waxing waistline, I was horrified to see that I was resembling several of my more developed customers at the maternity clinic where I was a consultant and was supposed to be offering, amongst other things, advice on sensible and balanced diets.


The discussion with my lovely wife began with a few suggestions of destinations, including a relaxing couple of weeks on the beaches of the Seychelles or a trip to see her family in Canada, but ended up with a cycling tour in France! I’d never been to France. I know it sounds strange, but I’d just never had the need or inclination and the last time my wife had ridden a bicycle was when Donny Osmond and his brothers were singing about Crazy Horses.


TO NIMES WITH LYCRA Somehow I allowed my wife to convince me that France on bicycles was a good idea and after buying the obligatory and most attractively enhancing Lycra pants we booked our holiday with Deluxe Cycle Tours and waited with anticipation for our vacation to commence.


Seeing as I was going to experience France for the first time we decided to fly. Not only was there a choice of a few not-too- distant airports, but even more fantastic was the price of the flight. We flew with Ryanair who fly into so many destinations in France that you’re spoilt for choice. As we’d chosen a tour of Provence we flew into Nimes for less than the price of a fairly short train journey back home. I originally thought we were just paying a tip for the crew, but no, that was the price


10 www.cyclingworldmag.com


There’s more to cycling than riding a bike and Deluxe cycle tours like to do it in style, as one satisfied cyclist explains!


of the whole thing. I had visions of us all donning parachutes and sitting between each other’s legs waiting for the “drop” over our destination, but we all had a seat and we were even offered beverages on route!


NO COMPETITION


After a short train journey we arrived in Avignon, to be greeted by our hosts and a small group of fellow cyclists. It’s funny, but I suddenly felt like Mr Creosote again, as I eyed up the “competition” which, in my mind, resembled Bradley and Team Sky. I’m sure some were thinking the same thing. I noticed several eyes upon me seemingly asking themselves, “I wonder if I’ll look as stupid as him in Lycra”, and, “If Mr Creosote can get his leg over a bicycle then I’m sure I can”.


The weather was gorgeous in Provence, and although not too hot, the air conditioned transport to our hotel was welcome, although I did wonder if I could sweat off a few pounds before arriving at the hotel.


The journey gave us time to get to know the guides and the rest of the group. By the time we arrived at the hotel I’d realised we were all here for a leisurely cycle through the French countryside and that we all had a similar level of fitness. We’d get on just fine. Well we were at the hotel now and I’d


missed Avignon, and the fallen down bridge, due to giving too much thought to those Lycra shorts that I had to get into the next day. I needn’t have worried though, as once we’d been shown our very plush room in the amazing hotel we had time to explore the town and what a town it was.


HALF A BRIDGE FAR ENOUGH Walking from the Place de l’Horloge to the square housing the Palais des Papes was, for a first-timer in France, truly magnificent as history passed before me where I stood. A short walk away was the half of a bridge and memories of the song, “Sur le Pont d’Avignon” Upon returning to the hotel I was ready for forty winks, but the “fitting” of my bicycle took priority. After agreeing a time to meet back at the bikes, we left to prepare for the fashion parade and I could only wish that I’d look as good as my wife did in Lycra. Congregating at the bikes my fears


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