2020 Calendar, Half Price Hire Bikes, Topbike Staff, Cucinare Reports
Le Tour, what a great race
I honestly hope the French are building the race to suit their own. It’s certainly what it looks like, and if they keep down that path, good on ’em. It’ll always be the same course for everyone, so therefore it’s not cheating. Just favoritism. I wouldn’t want the french to go much more than the 35 years they’ve already gone, without a win. The celebrations alone would be fantastic. Of note, one of the biggest cheers we heard this year, was on top of Tourmalet, watching the big screen, waiting for the riders to arrive. In the final kilometers, when Geraint Thomas dropped off the back of the lead group, seemingly the whole mountaintop around us erupted. ‘Twas emotional (and hilarious).
Topbike’s Success = Staff.
I’m not going to pretend that people have asked about Topbike’s success over the past 22 years, but I’m going to tell you, anyways. Staff, and in particular, our female staff, are the reason. Most of the women who have worked for us are ex-professional riders, australian champions etc. But that is all irrelevant, they are entertaining, witty, humorous, good story tellers, great fun to be around, but most importantly, they put the guests first. And I love them all. Hats off to MBW*, Annabelle Drew, Shelley Kamevaar, Olivia Gollan, Anna Wilson, Jessica Douglas, Jenny Hogan, Niki Fisher and Alexandra Koutts, who have all been part of the Topbike Team over the years. Special mention to Denise Jury who does our website, and keeps us on FPOG. We’d be nowhere, without you all. (How relevant it is, that they always let the men beat ’em up the hills, I won’t go into here).
*My Beautiful Wife: Emma Colson
Cucinare Report, Donkey, Duck, Gin & Crayfish
We visited an agriturismo on the top of the Island of Lipari (Aeolian Islands – Sicily) while on tour there this May. As we were taking our seats in the dining room, a donkey entered through an outer door, and began mingling, and generally working the room. With a little work, we turned his head around and pushed him out the door. Before we finished the antipasto he was back again, to join in the fun.
While running around the Pyrenees, Provence and the Alps chasing the tour, Duck was often on the menu. Of all the different ways of serving duck, while Magret de Canard is a favorite, a classic is ‘Parmentier de Canard’. The chef -Jean Marie- who cooked it for us first, and many times, has moved on from Hotel de l’Orange. However, thanks to the wonderous powers of the ‘net, here is something, that is really nothing like what he cooked, but still a good, and interesting recipe.
While the Gin avalanche continues, I am getting pushed into a ravine. We noticed it last year on a visit to Scotland, when it was pointed out that gin was outselling whisky, in Scotland. The ravine I’m in, is a deep one, and seemingly bottomless, in that every new gin I try is better, and more expensive, than the last. Worthy mentions of note, from Seville ‘Puerto de Indias‘ this one, served to us in Majadahonda (Madrid) was pink. Strawberry…don’t ask me. And ‘Mistral Gin’ from Provence. This was served to us in the Pyrenees, and surprisingly had no hint of lavender. You can find an article on this gin, on GinKin . ALSO worthy of note is that while we’re getting juniper berries served in our G & Ts locally here, I’m yet to see it catch on at home. Or maybe I just don’t get out much? See photos below.
Crayfish I took MBW* out for lunch the other day, yesterday, in fact. To a Ristorante we needed to do a reccy on, for a group tour next year. Menus came, no prices on hers, MBW orders crayfish. Oh, spare me. (FYI the Ristorante was part of ‘The Albereta Relais & Chateaux‘, south of Lago Iseo, in Franciacorta)
2020 Calendar Please see our dates below for next year’s rides.
The full itineraries are still in production, but if you contact us, we can fill you in with more details.
The largest change is that for the Grand Tours (ie Giro, Tour de France, La Vuelta) we will not be actively chasing the races. The focus will be on riding and dining and catching up with the race via television in the afternoons etc. Along with being in the final city for the Grand Finale, be it Milano, Paris or Madrid.
New for 2020 is the ‘South of Rome’ tour, which visits the area (Lenola and its environs) where we first started running tours, 22 years ago.
We are also running two different tours where there is just one location for a week of riding, eating and drinking, without moving. Our base tour, here in Marone, on Lake Iseo (Italy) and Le Bourg d’Oisans, in the French Alps.
For all those interested in the Tour of Ireland, it’s still in production, just not on the calendar yet – maybe 2021…!
Top: Julian Alaphilippe, in the yellow jersey, as the peloton passes Arreau, in the Pyrenees, Stage 12
Middle: The steep slopes of the Gin Ravine, and a serve of crayfish
Below: MBW, on the banks of Lago Iseo, resting up after a busy July
(Images: David Olle)
Half Price hire bikes for 2020, if you book before Sept 8*
More than Ebikes…
We are continuing to update our complete hire fleet, with new bikes from Casati and Wilier. See our Insta feed for photos or find out more about riding one of our electric bikes on tour here. Better still, come and ride one.