personality Erica Ehm owns her own communications company. Although
she loves what she's doing, she also enjoys getting away on a regular
basis. One of her more interesting holidays was a spur-of-the-moment
decision when Erica got more than she bargained for. She writes...
My idea of
a perfect holiday is a healthy combination of beautiful scenery,
great food, great wine, unique culture and exercise. After hearing
about Active Journeys vacations I was sold --they offer biking
and walking holidays around the world. Tagging along after a guide
is never my cup of tea. Thats why their type of holiday is
so cool. The trip includes bicycles, detailed routes to each days
destination, confirmed quaint hotels, dinner and breakfast, daily
transportation of your luggage but no group and no guide. If you
choose to be, youre on your own. That's the way my girlfriend
Beth and I chose to go.
out the hard way...
of choice was a week long bike tour in Frances Loire
valley, but we were too late. All the hotels were already
booked. So, instead, we settled quickly on the Burgundy
region. However, while both these picturesque areas are famous
for their wines -- there is a very important difference --
the landscape. Had we read the Burgundy trip itinerary more
closely, we would have picked up on some key reoccurring phrases
like fairly stiff climb, vast panorama,
and rocky promontory. Since on this trip we were
expected to bike approximately 55 kilometers per day, we were
going to find out the hard way that maybe this was too much
Day one was a long travel
day by train from Paris to Sauvigny de Beaune.
our first hotel we were supplied with sturdy 21 gear hybrid
bikes, detailed itinerary and maps, bike bags, locks and repair
kits. The next morning, with a wink and an au revoir
from the concierge, we were on the road.
good as we thought we were...
Although the directions
we received were really quite specific, Beth and I had difficulty
reading the signage and deciphering the ways of the road in
the French countryside. And, within an hour our leg muscles
were burning. Then, when we were exactly in the middle of
nowhere, I realized with a sinking sensation that my rear
tire was flat. Luckily Beth really knows her stuff and was
able to replace the innertube that had been punctured by a
The day ended 40 kilometers
later high in the medieval village of Chateauneuf.
As we crawled up the final incline of the day to this 12th
century town, we began to understand just exactly how hilly
the Burgundy region was, and that we may have bitten off more
than we could chew.
Day two began with a
lovely breakfast at the Hostellerie du Chateau. Beth
and I rhapsodized over our freshly baked bread, pain au chocolat,
fruit, yoghurt, cheese and coffee. We
ate very well keeping in mind the 55 kilometers ahead that
day. This time, we biked almost nonstop for about five hours
-- through beautiful farmland, vineyards, medieval villages
and rolling hills. We began to figure out how to use the gears
and navigate the hills more efficiently. The many locals we
asked for directions were more than happy to show us the way.
Yet, we noticed that they often looked at us with pity as
they pointed up to a tiny steep road. Their parting words
were, Bon Courage.
on the way to Semur en Auxois everything suddenly changed.
Beths knee gave out. She was in deep pain and could
go no further. With the help of passers-by, we tracked down
a local doctor. From there an ambulance took us to the hospital
for x-rays which told the whole story.
Beth would be fine but
there would be no more biking this trip. All I can say is
-- thank god for travel insurance. Dont even think of
leaving home without it.
contacted Sherpa Expeditions, the local affiliate for
Active Journeys, and new arrangements were quickly
made for us. We could proceed with our original itinerary,
but we would be driven to the next days destination
by the local taxi that transports the bikers luggage.