It was the first time I had cycled so many kilometres over a number of consecutive days and the first time I had cycled in France. 100 kilometres, in fact, eased out over five days with two leisurely days wedged in between. The Loire Valley’s long and scenic cycle routes made my days’ long outer-city cycle adventures in Asia’s Bangkok and Mandalay look easy.
Cutting through a slice of the countryside not far from the metropolis of Paris, the journey was long, yet it was with the same desired effect – to see a destination actively and thereby cover more ground, but without giving up on the little comforts one needs after full-day surveying with sporting intent.
This is what Headwater is known for – combining active, culture and outdoors focused sightseeing, with the promise at the end of a long day of historical, family-run accommodation, and the reward of fine regional gourmet paired with some of the best local wines. In celebration of their 30 years in the business in creating unique active sightseeing trails across Europe, I decided to take on their Loire Gastronomy Cycling trip and up the ante on my travel biking skills.
Cycling in France – Choosing the Loire Valley Journey
I was presented with the map on my first morning at breakfast in the Château de Chissey, the neon inked trail marking a long circular-route that would take me through more fairytale Châteaux, 15 villages – including Onzain, Chaumont, Candé-sur-Beauvron, Chitenay and Troussay – the historical town of Amboise, and the endless vineyard flanked countryside.
An average cycle, using a 21-gear bike and carrying only two panniers, would last around three to four hours, making my way from my starting hotel to the next resting place while the Headwater rep would take care of the delivery of my bags. Having being given all the relevant materials and biking equipment, my task was simply to leisurely pedal through the winding roads, forest tracks and the valleys of Loire via a set of very detailed instructions.
There were times when I would cycle harder and faster to challenge myself, or let the child inside me loose as I powered downhill as the wind blew in my hair, my delightful screams picking up the pace of my wheels. On my rest days, I would take on board some of the suggestions and light routes outlined in the trip notes to keep up the momentum and the adrenalin my body was starting to crave.
With Loire’s famous cycling paths and the steady stream of green signs and tiny villages to direct you, it was hard to get lost. But should I have taken a wrong turn, the local representative was only a phone call away and the hotel eagerly awaiting my arrival by a certain time, so that I could dine and dabble in Loire’s many gastronomic delights on the menu that evening. For me, the indulgence of fresh produce from the giant gardens of the valley was both a reward and a perfect excuse to refuel for the next day ahead.
Just as I started, I ended my journey in a Chateau, indulging in one last feast in celebration of completing one of my biggest challenges. I sipped on a glass of rose, feeling fitter than ever before, eager to continue good habits (and wine tasting) in my adventurous endeavours, and even willing myself to take on a longer cycling journey when the opportunity presents itself.
This post was brought to you as a result of #30ActiveDays trip, in partnership with Headwater Holidays. Borders of Adventure maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site and I wouldn’t lie to you, despite looking so fresh in my pictures and video. Let’s face it, I’m a cycle geek at heart, even if 100 kilometres made me a sweaty mess sometimes.