Twenty minutes into our bike trip around Sancerre last July, as we wended south along the left bank of the Loire, the rear innertube of the Native Companion's bike blew itself to shreds. It had been the one thing I'd asked some bike shop scheisters near Sentier to fix, but in their enthusiasm to bilk me for a thousand other tune-ups and grip replacements, they had apparently forgotten my original request. The back tire had a hole, macgivered with a piece of leather, through which the innertube had become exposed.
We had to postpone our rendezvous with Chavignol legend François Cotat, whose wife was extremely helpful in suggesting places nearby that might stock innertubes. We found one at a motorcycle supply shop a few miles up the road. The shop was permanently closed, but its owner was constructing an amateur Museum of Antique Bicycles in the shed space, and he happened to have a stock of innertubes out back. No tires, though, so the hole remained precarious, with just an unfixed piece of leather between us and further rural hassle.
It was also swelteringly hot, and in my inexperience I took us on a laughably circuitous route up and down the insane inclines of Sury-En-Vaux to the domaine that had become our first appointment, that of natural winemaker Sebastien Riffault. I say all this to explain why the winemaker arrived in his car to see us cheering and doing donuts in his driveway. We had survived! I don't mean it as faint praise if I say we appreciated the ice cold water Riffault gave us almost as much as his deep, wizardly Sancerres.