Tour De Provence Training … With A Toddler On The Team

“STOP,” my 12 kilogram passenger shouts.

We are approaching a bridge, where the verge I’m riding on disappears and I’ll be forced closer to the motorbikes and pickup trucks barreling down the highway.

“Stop? Really?”

“STOP,” Miss M shouts again from her baby seat behind me. I’ve already discovered I can’t turn around to check her and keep the bicycle handlebars straight. So I brake hard, stopping on the verge before it disappears.

I turn around. “What’s wrong?”

“Water,” she croaks.

Its exactly two minutes since we last stopped for water. Sigh. Training for our Tour de Provence is throwing up some unexpected technical problems.

I hold the water bottle up for my little princess, who pulls the most angelic drinking face possible. And drinks and drinks and drinks. The traffic thunders past. This is the only scary bit of our stage one training route, a small section of Chiang Mai’s magnificently-named Superhighway.

Dramatic re-enactment (not on the Superhighway, obviously)

I think my training ride is about 10 kilometres. I’m not entirely sure. It’s a lovely ride, along the Ping River, past teak houses, cafes, guest houses, a massage centre, stately homes and restaurants. There’s an intriguing outdoor restaurant in a field – deserted during the day, full of food and drinks and fairy lights at night.

We pass lots of dogs and elderly people on push bikes and a wat where teenage monks sweep the roadside bocce courts every afternoon. We pass two markets, two 7-11s, two Tesco Expresses, a fire station and some motorbike repair shops.

Once we have this ride down pat, we’ll extend our ride along the river, down to the next bridge, past yet-another market, fancy bars and more upscale restaurants. We’ll cross a busier bridge and head home past temples and tailor shops, khao soi stalls and churches and the local office of the Department of Special Investigations, the Thai version of the FBI. This extended ride might be 20 kilometers, it might be 30. It’s all flat and I think my legs and butt can handle it. The big question is – can Miss M?

I am still not 100% sure I can pull off this grand Tour de Provence plan. Our earned-in-Asia savings may not be able to cover the cost of the tour, which mysteriously gets longer ever time I sit at the computer to research the trip.

At present, our loose plan includes a quick stopover in Cairo to break up the long Bangkok-Paris flight, then whizzing down to elegant Marseille, France’s second-biggest city, to take up our part of the non-simultaneous exchange we did last year through

After Marseille, we’re hoping to do a week or two of volunteering on a farm in exchange for accommodation, then we set off on our grand Tour de Provence, exploring the back roads and the campgrounds of the region. I’m hoping we can find someone to show us how to forage (and how to cook what we find).

After a month on the road, we should be trim, taut and terrific. We’ll take our new-found vim and vigor to visit friends in Geneva and Paris, then take up our second home exchange option in the pretty little Dutch village of Delft.

Then it will be time to return to Asia. Darling Man is homesick so we are going back to Vietnam, where I plan to make a second attempt to learn the language.

The highlight of the trip will be our cycling adventure. It will be my first independent cycle tour and Miss M and Darling Man’s very first cycle tour of any description.

The stupendous cost of living in Europe compared to Asia means that I will have to work on the road. This will be the great test of the location independent work I’ve been setting up over the past few months.

The other great test will be of Miss M’s patience. Will she actually be able to sit in a baby trailer for a few hours a day? Stay tuned.

She’s doing well so far. I just never realised that sitting could be such thirsty work.

These grand plans wouldn’t have been possible without the home exchanges we organised last year. There are three membership options at We went with the silver option, which is US$119.40 a year. There is a free option (bronze membership) and a more expensive option. We were very happy with our silver membership, which we have renewed this year so we can offer our next home for exchange. We love so much we joined their affiliate program. Then we discovered this means we can offer readers a 20% discount on Home Exchange membership. (Just use the code “cdispatch10”).

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8 years ago

By: Barbara

A career girl who dropped out, traveled, found love, and never got around to going home again. Now wrangling a cross-cultural relationship and two third culture kids.


  1. Your trip sounds lovely! Can’t wait to hear how it all goes, I would love to do something like that!
    Amy @WorldschoolAdventures recently posted..Book Review: Twenty Miles Per Cookie

  2. Denise says:

    wow! what a wonderful plan and how clever to set it up in such a way that accommodation is free.
    I’m in Vietnam myself at the moment, and already slowly falling in love with the country and its people.

  3. Jon & Jenny Stark says:

    Great to read about your adventures!
    Jon & I are 2 teachers from Australia who are doing a similar trip. We are now enjoying Phuket and will spend 5 months in S.E. Asia before going to England, Euroupe, Egypt etc.

    We are travelling for 2 years.

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