Sorry for my absence for the last few days – how time flies by when the sun shines and there’s a million things to get done!
One little pleasure I had yesterday was to get out on the bike for a few hours in the sunshine. There is a ‘marked cycle route’ that goes past our house and travels about 70km through the local countryside and villages, and it is nice to see the orchards coming into blossom.
It’s a route I don’t take very often, especially early in the season, because it is a whole magnitude harder than most routes around here and if truth be told it’s also less scenic than many of the rides in the region as well, but as our holidaymakers often turn up with bikes it’s a bit embarrassing if I have to say it’s too hard for me to get around the route that is signed from our driveway…
Curiously the region as a whole around here isn’t especially hilly, but the waymarked route that tourists are supposed to follow rides up every hill within a 30km radius, many of them of the ‘short sharp shock’ variety (not very long but very steep). The first few it’s quite entertaining in a sort of masochistic way, but towards the end it stops being funny!
It’s hard enough riding the route alone on a proper road bike, but completing the route on a heavy hire bike with children in tow and a picnic in a backpack would be a feat equivalent to scaling Mont Blanc. Even worse if it’s a hot sunny day of course.
It seems to me it has been designed solely as a little joke to play on tourists, some kind of plot between the local Tourist Office and the local Bike Club.
Most notably perhaps, on the several times I have ridden the route I have never actually seen members of the local cycling group on the route itself. They are all out on the more ‘normal’ roads, which are of course kept quieter by ensuring tourists are all off somewhere else, struggling up a 1 in 4 hill and miles from a cafe!
It makes me wonder – everywhere in France has ‘scenic routes’, marked trails, most beautiful villages, tours of vineyards etc – but how often do they represent all that is best in an area, and how often would a visitor be better off just ignoring all advice and suggestions and exploring wherever their fancy took them…