Tuesday, 30 December 2014

A Cold November in France... The Epic Beaujolais Run

Whatever the reality is regarding "Global Warming" this past November's weather has been warm even when it has been raining.

It has been in sharp contrast to a November weekend in the mid eighties when along with a seven other Southborough club members I took part in a charity ride to Beaume to collect the Beaujolais wine for a local Tunbridge Wells pub.

The riders plus two support vehicles (one of which was a converted undertakers hearse and was driven by the publican) set out across the channel in reasonable weather with the intention of buying the wine when it was released at midnight on the 24th. The bulk of the wine would be transported in the hearse but two bottles were to be carried in the bottle cages on the bikes.

We cyclists booked into a hotel in Beame and found a great French Bistro where we dined on French onion soup, steaks (and one more adventurous than the rest had frogs legs and escargot) whilst the unfortunate publican drove to the vineyard to await the midnight sale.

A journey of some 170 km to Paris was schedule for the next day so we all decided on an early night.

When getting up the next morning we found to our horror that it had snowed overnight and that temperature had dropped to well below freezing.

quelle heureux, il neige!

The hearse is prepared for the return journey

Undaunted we set off on what was to be an epic journey through snow sleet and freezing wind. Hands and feet were soon stiff with cold (this being the days before modern cycling gear) but we all persevered with just one or two riders having short spells in the support cars so as to thaw out.

a very cold French village

A colder French D road

We were met under the Eiffel Tower by the group from the Charity who were amazed that we had managed the whole journey. On taking the bottles of wine from the bikes we found that in fact it had started to freeze so we must have experienced an incredibly low temperature.

Handing over the frozen bottle of wine

We were taken to the hotel in Paris where the charity group had stayed over night and after a quick shower we were then driven back to Tunbridge Wells to arrive just in time for our annual club dinner.

At the dinner we were toasted for our efforts in the wine we had carried, which I can remember as being classed as a wine that did "not travel well."