Was Bike to Care Bordeaux a ride or a race? No-one seemed quite sure but the lube was guaranteed to fly when you put 100 riders from hospitality worldwide on the back roads of Bordeaux – especially with the new arrival of a semi-pro team from the Low Countries. After Louis Jadot and fellow winemakers from Burgundy put charity ride Bike to Care on the map last year, it was up to the Bordelais to ‘go one better’ … or was it?
In just its second year charity cycle ride Bike to Care has raised an impressive €400k for a range of charities and scholarships to help sommeliers, chefs and service personnel within hospitality.
The wine world is awash with ‘Golden Tickets’ but there are few that are as coveted as an invite to take part in Bike to Care – so long, that is, that you can take a 200km cycle ride in your stride and rehydrate with some of the finest wines known to mankind…. in the right order, obviously.
What started as a brainwave by Louis Jadot out of the back of Covid to help strugglers in hospitality, has now grown into a major date in the calendar – with almost €650k raised for all manner of worthy causes across the two years that Bike to Care has been staged.
First we had Bike to Care en Bourgogne 2022, then ‘the three musketeers’ of Chateaux Haut-Bailly, Lynch-Bages and Giscours picked up the baton and staged Bike to Care Bordeaux last week, roping in support from a wealth of their illustrious neighbours to kit out, accommodate, wine and dine the nine teams from the US and China and everywhere inbetween.
The infamous rivalry between Burgundy and Bordeaux was nowhere to be seen, in fact Bike to Care is fuelled by a passionate friendship between all participating wineries from the two regions. How else could we be clapping along to the ‘Ban Bourguignon’ not once but twice in the hallowed halls of Bordeaux? And was that intentional that the racing jersey for Bike to Care Bordeaux was in a burgundy colour?
A bicycle is undoubtedly the best way to quickly get around and grasp the topography of a wine region and last year riding through the Côte-d’Or then Côte de Nuits was like piecing together a jigsaw of previously ill-fitting terroir – the slopes and lieu dits all making sense when you are riding over them.
This year, similarly, the two days covered a large swathe of the Médoc on Day One and Pessac-Léognan/ Sauternes on Day Two – a complete thrill to zip through villages and regions with such emotive place names and see how they all work in tandem.
The roads are very different too. Where the Bourgogne tourist board has invested hugely in cycleways, with Bike to Care Bordeaux we were on public roads which necessitated the use of motorbike escorts, an ambulance mopping up at the rear of the course and a very-animated Sporting Director who looked for all the world like Will Ferrell doing a Borat impersonation. This guy must pour testosterone on his Wheaties in the morning.
Where Bike to Care en Bourgogne was like a Famous Five episode, Bike to Care Bordeaux was a little like being in the Tour de France.
“First a few words about the race… err… ride,” quipped Will Ferrell, jaw clenched, eyes never blinking. “Although beer and wine will be provided during the race … err ride… at the pit stops we ask you to drink in moderation.”
Just to namecheck two of those pit stops – Chateaux Lafite and d’Yquem – whatever you say Will!
In all seriousness we did imbibe modestly, and saved our thirst for the evenings which were held at Giscours, Lynch-Bages and Haut-Bailly respectively – allowing us to marvel at their state-of-the-art wineries and drink a selection of the finest Bordeaux. And we did suffer – Day Two was as tough as you like with pouring rain and strong winds throughout.
The wine lists are reproduced below and, without going through the wines laboriously, things that stood out were: how impressive the whites, rosés and stickies showed – particularly having Sauternes as an aperitif; how elegant and a pointe the clarets were showing from the 2011 vintage; the difference a larger format makes with claret freshness; and the quality/value ratio of Château Giscours – all of their wines easily held their own against wines costing twice the price.
Of course, Bike to Care Bordeaux was not about drinking nor competing (ahem! take note Belgian riders and our own Richard ‘Wiggins’ Davies) but about taking part and raising money for those who need it most. The UK’s Hatch Mansfield team of which I was a member hit our total, raising money for Hospitality UK although ‘lines are still open’ and you can donate here. Other beneficiaries were varied – budding waiting staff, African American chefs, sommeliers – and those equally deserving.
Next year Bike to Care returns to Burgundy and it was reassuring to hear from Louis Jadot chief Pierre Henry Gagey that the organisers have resisted the temptation to make this a much bigger, corporate affair – instead keeping together a tight-knit group of cyclists from the worlds of global hospitality who, like a peloton, are helping those less able to get over the bumps and up the slopes that they might not otherwise be able to climb.
Those wine lists in full
To find out more details on Hospitality Action UK please click here.
To help support the Bike to Care Bordeaux initiative please go to the Just Giving page here.
To find out more details on Bike to Care Bordeaux please click here.
Hatch Mansfield is a commercial partner of The Buyer. To discover more about them click here.