The adventure begins:
The morning my Backroads bike tour of the Bordeaux wine region was to start I asked my hotel clerk to call me a taxi to take me to the train station. He looked incredulous explaining it was only a five-minute walk away. I was not going to drag my heavy suitcase, backpack, and CPAP machine again. I did that when I arrived in Bordeaux and it took me a lot longer than five minutes.
The taxi arrived and I had a 15-euro mini tour of the city of Bordeaux. It lasted more than five minutes. We arrived at the “sortie Belcier”, where the participants of the tour were instructed to meet. When I arrived in Bordeaux by train from Paris, two days previously, I walked the length of the station to find that exit where our group was told to gather. That was not where the taxi driver left me,
There was no need to panic. I had the phone number of Dom, our group leader and called him. He decided I was in the correct location, just one floor above where I had exited the station when I arrived. I was still early and he told me to be patient. He knew where I was and would sort everything when he arrived. About half an hour later various members of the group, noticing my “Backroads” biking jersey, joined me.
Before getting on the bus to ride to where our bikes were waiting, I explained to Dom that my pocket was picked while I riding the Paris metro. I had no credit cards, no debit card, and very little money, not to mention the driver’s license, insurance cards, and other essentials I would have to replace. He said not to worry, he would advance me the funds I needed and I could repay him after I returned home. I exhaled a sigh of relief!
The bus ride from Bordeaux to Pontours took about two hours. We were supplied with a tasty sandwich on a not so small baggett, bottled water, and a large chocolate chip cookie. Prior to the trip I was told French food portions were small. Not my experience. While on the bus we were indoctrinated to the Backroads culture and welcomed to the land of rivers, prehistoric caves, fabulous food, wonderful biking, and what the group leaders hoped would be a rewarding vacation.
This photo is of the bike staging area in Pontours, France. Our bikes, helmets, and water bottles were already tagged with our names. The bike seats and handlebars were adjusted by the leaders so we were comfortable with our bike’s setup, then we received individual detailed instruction on the use of the GPS system.
The first day ride:
We did an easy 21-km ride. The purpose of this ride was to get acquainted with the bikes the company provided and to “warm up” for the next the five days of riding. Those who wanted more biking had the option of a longer 30.8 km ride. I passed. Immediately after we finished the ride the group leader provided cash to tide me over and told me he would provide the total amount I had calculated I needed to get me home before the end of the tour.