This year, 2023, was the first time since Brexit, and since the Covid-19 pandemic, that The Chain Gang ran a full season of tours. And even that isn’t really true – we still need to wake-up our Italian tours, and get Burgundy back on-track. But we ran tours from June right up to the end of September, and it felt great.
We effectively had two new tours this year – Champagne was such a comprehensive re-design it felt like a new tour, and although we’ve run Normandy tours before, similar reasons meant we had to start again in Normandy.
They both ran beautifully, though I say it myself. So 2023 really felt like a restart. We had a great season, and saw lots of familiar faces. I’m not sure that I manage to convey how I feel when I see familiar faces coming back to join the Chain Gang. Far too many people to list here, but you know who you are, and it made my year to welcome back some people who haven’t cycled with us for a while.
A highlight was seeing Mika and Mika, from Finland, again. They’ve previously been on 3 Chain Gang tours, but none since 2013. And there they they were in Chalons-en-Champagne – one of my favourite moments of the season.
So, 2024, and a further step forward. We will be running a small number of Italian tours in Tuscany and Umbria, and a full programme in France that includes Champagne and Normandy.
That leaves me with a task for 2024 – Burgundy. We stopped running our Burgundy tour the year before the pandemic because I no longer felt we could stay at our first hotel. That’s a particular problem, because that’s where our bikes and equipment would be stored.
The challenge – before the pandemic – was to try and bring the start and finish points closer together – in a perfect world they’d be the same place, as they are in Languedoc, Provence, and Dordogne. I wanted to see if it was worth trying to include the famous and beautiful landmarks of Vezelay, Avallon and Auxerre. But I don’t want to miss out on the Côte-d’Or – the famous range of Burgundy vineyards between Dijon and Beaune. I don’t want to miss out on the white wines of Meursault and the Montrachets – those of you who know, know. The rest of you, come with me when we run our next Burgundy trip! And of course I still want to visit the beautiful town of Beaune.
Unfortunately those are difficult squares to circle, so there’s going to be some compromising – not my strong suit, as I’ve been told many times! I’ll make sure I keep you informed, and my aim is to have the best-possible cycling tour of Burgundy in 2025.
Until then, perhaps I’ll see you in Champagne. Or Tuscany. Or in the Loire Valley, or Dordogne … you get the picture. See you there. (As ever, click any photo to enlarge).