Three years ago, I came to France and climbed Mount Ventoux. Last year, I was over at the neighbour’s in Spain doing a multi-day bike tour before heading back to the French Riveria to do more riding in and around Nice (I will blog about that trip one day…). This year, of course I’ll be heading back to Nice for a week to do more riding but prior to that, I am once again joining John and Gerry from 44|5 Cycling to ride in the Cevennes for eight days! I originally wanted to join the Highroad Pyrennes but I couldn’t make the dates… so I guess that means there will be a next time.
My decision to come to France this June was totally last minute so I have to thank them for putting up with my antics and trusting me as a “loyal customer.” I can’t help but to keep coming back for these, what I call, “fug-lux” bike tours. They are luxurious in a way you don’t have to worry about anything …except for working hard and looking like crap on the bike a.k.a. covered in sweat, dead bugs, sun burns and a look of pain plastered to our faces. There is nothing more I want! My kinda vacation. But seriously, I love bike-touring and love it even more when I have it all planned out for me. I always rent my bike when traveling overseas because I go to multiple destinations and have enough luggage as it is and 44|5 organizes it all; bikes, pedals, helmet… all the works (I always secretly hope I get all black everything so it doesn’t clash with my kit). I just have to show up. They also feed us but this year I opted to bring my own Huma Chia Energy Gels because I don’t like to consume anything else on the bike. I am going to be in Europe for two months so I ordered a box which will hopefully last since good gels with non-questionable ingredients that doesn’t mess with my tummy is hard to find.
I arrived in France yesterday, hence why I was blogging because I was waiting for Air France to deliver my luggage that did not arrive with me and I’m trying not to fall asleep since it’s only 6pm. I am feeling exhausted and antisocial even though I’m staying in the middle of a cute French town. I travel a lot and have been flying somewhere every other week for the past two years but I had to write about my dramatic journey from LAX to MPL today. I am rarely in the United terminal but from dropping off my bag, to going through security, to getting to my gate, I was thinking that this was the most cheerful terminal I’ve ever experienced. The customer service, energy and atmosphere was top-notch, perhaps all United employees were told to step up their game after the bad press they have been receiving. Whatever it is, I was impressed.
Right when I sat down and ordered breakfast at a restaurant, I hear that my flight was going to be THREE hours delayed due to a mechanical issue (which means it could’ve been anything = doom). I had a business class ticket to Chicago where I was going to catch a flight to Montpellier that connected through Dublin (booked last-minute through a travel agent) and I was going to miss my next connection. I fly with United once a year and something always happens!! But then something always happens when you connect through Chicago so I don’t know who or what to blame. Hah.
Anyway, the regular United customer service at LAX line was extremely long but they were ignoring the few of us in the premier line because it was all the way over to the side and they couldn’t see us. It was so upsetting and my hands were shaking because I was so stressed out (I paid $3000usd for my bike tour and did NOT want to miss it!) but when I finally got to the agent, Gordon really saved my day!! She rerouted me, business class all the way, on a flight to San Francisco that was already boarding while she was working on my ticket… then at SFO, I had 20 minutes to rush over to the international terminal to board my flight to Paris, and then I caught a flight to Montpellier at CDG. Gordon did warn me that my luggage wouldn’t arrive with me so I was mentally prepared and was already on the phone filing a claim right when I landed at MPL. The Air France agent I spoke to was charmingly patient and amazing, and helped me sort it all out. If my luggage does not get delivered to my next hotel (moving tomorrow), I will take that statement back. Hah.
Since I fly so often, I see the stress that both travelers and airline employees have to deal with. Everyone seems to be paying more attention to airlines abusing their power after the David Dao incident on United, which I agree, some do but I don’t understand why so many fail to see the bigger picture. If you are boarding a plane and started a fit because you broke aviation laws that employees have to adhere to, they have to take action (eg. kick someone off a flight). I’ve worked in a large company, and understand the bureaucracies, and how everyone may not be familiar with the fine print… but these are human-beings trying to do their job. Yelling, kicking, screaming, causing a scene and videotaping isn’t going to get you anywhere. The best thing you can do is to calm down and be nice to the employee, and they will go out of their way to make things right for you. Can you imagine how stressed out they are because they are not just dealing with YOUR problem but everyone else’s as well. Why do you think certain people get upgrades, faster compensation, free bags, etc., and some don’t? BE KIND. You reap what you sow.
Today I am leaving Montpellier and going 2 hours into the countryside where we will start our bike tour… and I will finally rendezvous with my luggage!
So here I am hoping I get to ride my bike soon.. so far so good.