Secret Goodies On The Chain Gang Website

In the last year or two I’ve put lots of information at your disposal on the Chain Gang website. But it doesn’t take long before a website contains so much information that even Sherlock Holmes couldn’t find it. Some of that is my fault – it’s hard to arrive at the best structure for displaying so much information. Some of it is just because a lot of information brings its own problems.

I’d like to share with you some of the cooler or more useful features from the website.

1. Links.

I’ve tried to set the ‘Links’ page as a comprehensive source of information about everything to do with our tours. For example, many people ask us in advance for details about the hotels we use – they’re all up there, listed by tour. If you click on the ‘Links’ tab, the first set of information you see is links to all the hotels we use in the Dordogne.

Scroll down below the hotel links, and you’ll find links organised by tour showing all the villages and towns on the route, all the sites of interest. Under ‘Bordeaux’, you’ll find all the vineyards that we visit; under ‘Loire Valley’ you’ll find every château we visit.

Other information is where you might expect it. For example, the capital of Burgundy is Dijon, so you’d expect to find information about the famous Dijon mustard under ‘Other Interesting Websites About Burgundy’, and there it is, along with how to make the perfect kir , and details about the life of Canon Kir who gave his name to Burgundy’s most famous cocktail.

If you want to know about Josephine Baker , or the cave paintings at Le Font de Gaume or Lascaux in the Dordogne, it’s all there.

Have a look and enjoy. I have a confession to make – I need to add ‘Interesting sites’ to Tuscany and Umbria, and I need to add everything about Devon. I’ll do this by the time I send our next Newsletter out, and if you remember anything at all about your tours with us that you’d like to share with others, will you let me know? Thanks.

2. My favourite. Maps.

In 2009 and 2010 I spent many, many hours mapping every metre of our tours on Mapometer . I’ve mentioned this before in blogs, but there is an amazing amount of information available on these maps, and it’s all accessible from the website.

From our homepage, if you click either on the tour name ( The Loire Valley, France , for example) or Bike Tour Itinerary , at the end of each day’s description you’ll find the distance in miles and kilometres. This is a hyperlink, Click on it and enter a map-fetishists dream.

At the bottom of the ‘Itinerary’ page you’ll find a link that looks something like this: The Chain Gang Cycle Tours Ltd. Provence: 197 miles / 318 Km . Click on that, and the entire week is mapped out. Now, that really did take time!

You can select between a ‘map’ view and a ‘satellite’ view, and the tools on the left allow you to scroll around and to zoom in and out. If you click on the Tuscany map you can zoom into Siena; keep zooming, and you can see the Piaza il Campo as clear as day. You can see the nine segments of the campo representing the original 9 Council members, the public fountain and the shadow cast by the huge and beautiful Medici tower. You can zoom in much closer than this!


If you click on the Provence tour you can zoom in to see just how spectacular the Pont du Gard is


Click on Devon and zoom into the iron-age village at Grimspound on Dartmoor. The village of Grimspound is over 100 metres across


Look at Umbria in Umbria, or Asissi. Look at the chateaux of Chenonceaux, Chambord and Breze in the Loire Valley . It is fantastic, but you can lose a day out of your life if you’re not careful.

As well as the aerial views you can check out the climbing profile of each day of each tour. The maps show precise distances for each day, for each tour. You can download any or all details into your GPS – hopefully very soon our guides won’t even need to know the way. They’ll just follow our customers and order dinner!

And it should put a stop to the widespread belief that I lie about distances in our brochure (can you believe people would say that?!). They’re all on the ‘net. Transparency, that’s what we’ve got. Enjoy.

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