Sunday, March 24, 2019

Update on my 2019km cycling challenge

French Village Diaries #KTTinyTourer 2019 cycling challenge Ile de Ré Canal de la Garonne
#KTTinyTourer Ile de Ré

2019 Cycling Challenge

This year, with my new bike Katie the Tiny Tourer, I have challenged myself to cycle 2019km, which is a significant jump from the 700km I managed in 2018. As the end of the first three months draws near, I thought it would be a nice idea to update you on how I am doing.

I’ve never really been keen on cold winter rides and even less keen on wet and windy ones, so I was expecting to complete the majority of my kilometres during the summer months. However, a new bike, a challenge and the need to have something positive to focus on (Brexit still pops into my headspace all too often and with negative effects), combined with mild weather, and I have done better than I thought. Splitting the kilometres over the months equally, I should have cycled 505km by now, whereas I’ve actually managed 611km.

Ile de Ré

So far it has been a case of little and often that has accumulated my kilometres, but we have also had a couple of proper days out with café stops, picnics and fun in the sun on the Ile de Ré. On our last visit I couldn’t resist treating Kate the Tiny Tourer to a mascot, something small and fun that can travel with us as we make our pedal-powered way along the back roads of France. 
French Village Diaries #KTTinyTourer 2019 cycling challenge Ile de Ré Canal de la Garonne
Annie the Ile de Ré donkey
I’m delighted to introduce you to Annie, the Ile de Ré donkey. Fascinating fact time: the Ile de Ré is probably the only place in the world where donkeys traditionally wore pyjamas and I think you’ll agree Annie looks particularly fetching in hers. Donkeys were used on the island for agricultural work, kelp harvesting on the coast and working on the salt beds, as well as the main form of transport between the villages. The salt marshes on the island attract flies and mosquitos that attacked the donkeys, so to protect them they were dressed in trousers made out of recycled shirts. 
French Village Diaries #KTTinyTourer 2019 cycling challenge Ile de Ré Canal de la Garonne
Ile de Ré donkeys
In the summer you still see dressed-up donkeys, as the tourists like it (possibly more than the donkeys), but at our out of season visit the donkeys were happily munching the grass and wandering around naked.
French Village Diaries #KTTinyTourer 2019 cycling challenge Ile de Ré Canal de la Garonne
Cycling the Canal de la Garonne Cicerone guide book

Canal de la Garonne

Next month, if all goes to plan, I should get even further ahead of my target as we make our way from Bordeaux to Toulouse along the Canal de la Garonne, on a six-day, 350km tour. Adrian has the route and accommodation all sorted, has ensured we have enough spares and luggage to carry everything, and has even planned for emergency coffee stops. As we will be early in the season and following the towpath, rather than back roads from village to village, this time we will be taking our new lightweight trekking stove and Bialetti coffee pot with us. We just need to create ourselves a Bialetti bracket to hang the coffee pot from a bike, photos to follow, I promise.


We still have a few weeks left to get as bike fit as possible before we set off and thanks to Marc, my new yoga teacher, I’m feeling in good shape. I hadn’t realised how much I’d missed a regular yoga class until Phoenix Yoga set up a couple of weekly classes in a nearby village, but I’m loving it and even hoping Adrian will join me.


  1. Enjoy the Canal de la Garonne! Why not keep going on the Canal de Midi :)

    1. Would have loved to, however the 18 yr old who is now living independently in a big city is only happy to return to the quiet village to house/dog/bird sit for a week at a time. Maybe next time!

  2. I've always wanted to go to Ile de Re, you make it sound so idyllic. I never knew about the donkeys wearing pyjamas, very interesting if a little bit random! Good luck with the cycling.

    1. If you ever get the chance (Ryanair fly from UK to La Rochelle very cheaply) do treat yourself. If you get there in the summer you will see the donkeys all dressed up!


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