Wednesday, December 29, 2021

As another year draws to a close

French Village Diaries cycling recap 2021 three years of Brompton ownership


Three years of owning my Brompton

Today I am celebrating three years of Brompton bicycle ownership and I’m still enjoying the fun, fitness and freedom that #KTTinyTourer has given me. Every year has brought new adventures and new places to explore, as well as seen me challenge myself to longer distances and harder mountain climbs. It is no exaggeration to say that owning a Brompton has changed my life for the better.


 

French Village Diaries cycling recap 2021 three years of Brompton ownership
January cycling


Despite turning fifty this year, I struggled to set myself cycling challenges for 2021. I would have loved a long-distance tour, ideally one that crossed France north to south, or east to west, or maybe from the Atlantic coast to the Mediterranean, but that wasn’t going to be possible. I did decide on a mini challenge, to cycle a minimum of 10km every day, during the month of January, which was a real success in terms of helping to beat the winter blues, so my plan is to make it an annual January challenge. 

 

Having cycled less than one thousand kilometres the year before I bought Katie the Tiny Tourer, in my first two years I’d clocked up almost eight thousand five hundred kilometres, so decided it would be a good challenge to reach fifteen thousand kilometres by the end of 2021. Sadly, I have failed, but only just. For a year where Covid-19 restrictions and work slightly clipped my cycle touring wings, I still managed to cycle further than last year and have reached the grand total of fourteen thousand kilometres since December 2019. I can’t be too harsh on myself. 

 

My 2021 cycling highlights 

We knew there would be no summer holiday this year, as I was working from the beginning of July until the end of October, but we did manage to squeeze in some unforgettable short breaks. 


French Village Diaries cycling recap 2021 three years of Brompton ownership
Salers in the Cantal
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In May we spent five days cycling in the Corrèze, Cantal and Puy-de-Dôme departments, where the climbing rivalled that of the Pyrénees and the gorges of the Haute Dordogne were stunning. 


 

French Village Diaries cycling recap 2021 three years of Brompton ownership
Looking down on the Lot
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In June we returned to the Lot where we enjoyed cycling through vineyards and river gorges, as well as sampling lots of patisseries. It was only a five-day break, but we clocked up four hundred kilometres, including two 100km days. 


 

French Village Diaries cycling recap 2021 three years of Brompton ownership
Aubeterre-sur-Dronne


In July we spent a long weekend in Chalais, in the south of the Charente department, where the weather wasn’t as kind and the accommodation was unforgettable for all the wrong reasons. We still managed some lovely cycling through sunflower fields and along old railway lines, taking in pretty locations like Aubeterre-sur-Dronne, Riberac and Montguyon.


 

French Village Diaries cycling recap 2021 three years of Brompton ownership
Summer in the Cognac vineyards


In September we celebrated my birthday with two 100km days, one to Jarnac, through the Cognac vineyards, and one crossing the chemins de Saint-Jacques pilgrimage route to St-Jean-d’Angély.


 

French Village Diaries cycling recap 2021 three years of Brompton ownership
Autumn in Angouleme
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In October we had an autumn overnighter to Angouleme, a short and sweet escape where we avoided the worst of the wet and windy weather and dined like kings on local steak. 


 

French Village Diaries cycling recap 2021 three years of Brompton ownership
My library commute


I also really enjoyed the seven-kilometre commute to Chef-Boutonne for the four months I was working at the library. As well as proving to me that commuting by bike, even if we live in a rural village location, is a viable option, it was also a great way to clear my head and shift my brain between French and English at the end of the day. I was impressed that for a short commute, I still managed to clock up over one thousand, one hundred kilometres, meaning a huge saving on fuel for the car.

 

I can’t deny that these last two months have been rather sparse in terms of cycling, but the weather has been pretty rubbish, yet again. Even as I write this, the wind is howling outside, and the rain has been falling steadily since Boxing Day. I am, however, extremely thankful that Christmas Day was bright and sunny and so much better than forecast, meaning for the third year in a row, we managed our Christmas Day bike ride.


 

French Village Diaries cycling recap 2021 three years of Brompton ownership
Morning coffee on Christmas Day


This year we cycled a fifty-two-kilometre loop, stopping at a lavoir (stone wash house) for morning coffee and then on to our favourite covered picnic table (with restored bread oven) for lunch. The village of La Faye also provided us with a fresh baguette from a vending machine, and my first experience at using one.



French Village Diaries cycling recap 2021 three years of Brompton ownership
Our Christmas Day picnic

 


We laid out our baguette, naan breads, humous, carrot sticks, pâté en croûte (like a cross between a pork pie and a sausage roll), coleslaw, tuna pasta salad, Pays Basque pâté, satsumas and mince pies, plus the bottles of beer, and then two friends turned up. With smoked salmon and prawns, oatcakes, sparkling white wine, sparklers and great conversation, they certainly added some sparkle to our Christmas Day.


 

French Village Diaries cycling recap 2021 three years of Brompton ownership
Christmas Day blue skies and sunshine


The longer we sat, the warmer the sun got, and two hours had passed before we realised it. This was markedly different to last year when we got cold sitting for a quick picnic. Thanks to the great weather, we set off for a longer route home than originally planned, treating ourselves to hot chocolate, cake and pressies when we got home at 16h30. It was a lovely, relaxing but active day, with none of the usual stress of a big Christmas dinner.


 

French Village Diaries cycling recap 2021 three years of Brompton ownership
Our Boxing Day turkey meal

 

We did have a more traditional turkey meal on Boxing Day with Ed and Pearl, but even this was an easier option than a roast dinner. The slow cooker sorted out the spicy red cabbage and while the dauphinois potatoes were in the oven I cooked the diced turkey with lardons, onions, mushrooms, sprouts and crème fraiche.

 

Life seems to have developed a habit of throwing the unexpected our way, so I’m happy to let 2022 show me where it’s going to take us and our Bromptons. I know there is still lots of France to explore by bike and many adventures waiting for us.


This post brings with it my sincere wishes for a Happy and Healthy New Year to you all. 

   

1 comment:

  1. You talk about 50 like it's old! Oh, to be 50 again! What fun adventures you have had on your bicycles. Just the best. And I hope that Adrian is doing well and that your new year is filled with only good things and no more of this hospital business! Happy New Year!

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