Sunday, 13 November 2016

My New Job: Cycling Holidays in France for 2017 - Tours Du Tarn

The Tours du Tarn headquarters at Espinas, France.

Bonsoir! It's been another stupidly long period since I posted anything here but it's pretty safe to say that life has been insane since July 2015 and got progressively more bonkers up to now. Take a look at our Tarn Cycling Holidays blog for a more detailed view of what we've been up to here.

Tours du Tarn website

Before I get started, it's going to be very hard to write about this stuff without sounding like a pompous show-off so apologies from the off...

I write this as I'm sat in our kitchen with the the fire roaring away and two sets of guests staying the weekend in our barn and our cabin. When I last posted I was sat in a cafe on a business park during my lunch break in May - frantically trying to post something before an afternoon meeting! Things now couldn't be more different. 

Earlier this year I quit my job of 11 years (a comfortable, secure job in University administration), sold our house and in June we moved everything to the Midi-Pyrénées in south west France. If that wasn't bad enough it turns out that a 4 year engagement is long enough so in May, 4 weeks before the big move, Charlotte and I snuck in a small wedding.  Unbeknown to me though, the madness had only just begun as Charlotte then went on to tell me she was pregnant almost literally as we were about to move out!

Since June then we've moved in, finished converting our barn (La Grange) and our log Cabin (Le Petit Hibou) into holiday accommodation, reclaimed what Mother Nature had taken over since the place had been empty, built a new website, launched a cycling business and filmed a TV show! No really - they have made a TV show about our new life in France and airs in February 2017. I'm already dreading watching myself on TV but it was a great opportunity to promote the business and it was a great experience to be part of. 

We've met and made friends with the neighbours and locals, worked hard on our French language skills and even managed to get a few guinea pigs friends over to stay in the newly finished accommodation to help is get a feel for being hosts and test out what we've got to offer. A special thanks to all those who risked it with family and friends - not really knowing whether we would be finished or what sort of state the place would be in! Thankfully we were finished right on time - in a Carol Smillie and Changing Rooms kind of way!

It won't have gone unnoticed that in amongst all of that, there wasn't a mention of cycling. That's because, whilst there was some cycling in the mix, there wasn't anywhere near enough of it. I did manage to squeeze in a few really nice rides over the summer and most of them were "recce'ing" routes/roads for our cycling holidays.

We did take some time out to spend the day in Saint Antonin for Stage 6 of the Tour de France when it rolled through our local roads - taking with it all of the best Strava segments! The "côte de Saint Antonin" segment became more of challenge the instant the pro's hit it! That aside, there was a real buzz in the town and it was a great day all round and we were back in time to catch the sprint finish in Montauban on the TV.

Since the first guests returned home and the summer slowly turned to autumn there's been more time to take in some of the roads and do some exploring - especially since the weather has been gloriously warm and dry. I have to admit that I've missed cycling in a group so I'm just about to check out a club up at St Projet with some local lads and I'm hoping that will get me back in the swing of things and introduce some new roads too. 

I'm hoping the winter will be kind so I can get out a lot more regularly and some longer day rides - I have a couple planned in: One over to the Lot valley and a hilly one up to the volcanic plateau of Aubrac. Should be "good" for the legs!

I think that's about enough for now but will be posting more frequently now about cycling related stuff and gear. For now though, a bientôt!

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