I like to think I politely sighed and simply muttered with great poise, “Cinq crevaisons,” as I heard that telltale pop and hiss of my bicycle tire going flat. But I’m sure I said something much, much worse than “five flat tires.”
Five flats in a year are almost unthinkable for most regular cyclists. This was my fifth in one day.
My companion, Mike, and I had already gone through our spare tubes and four patch kits, so our only choice was to walk our bikes to the nearest town and find a way back to our hotel in Beaune.
Stranded midway between Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet, Mike and I made our defeated pedal-free march down the winding road.
Earlier that morning, after a breakfast of coffee and baguette, we headed south from Beaune, traveling along small back roads. We passed through Pommard and Volnay before the first flat.
Changing a tube is much easier than patching one, so we made quick work of the first two flats. Despite the setbacks, we stopped to taste wine wherever possible, including a chance meeting with the Comtesse de Meursault at her cousin’s winery in Auxey-Duresses.
We followed her on bicycle to visit her enormous chateau and buy a couple of bottles, so we had done Meursault in style. And then we were off, onward to Puligny, home to some of the finest white wines in the world.
Our plan was to have lunch at Olivier Leflaive’s restaurant and tasting room there, but thanks to the flats, we had missed lunchtime service. The sommelier sympathized with our air-less plight and sent us off with some open bottles, a slice of pâté and a hunk of bread for our hike.
After an hour’s walk, we stopped to taste at Caveau de Puligny-Montrachet. But something wasn’t right. The pours were extremely small, and the gent behind the bar was reluctant to open anything beyond an inexpensive appellation village.
We realized quickly that he assumed two cyclists would not be purchasing wine to go, so Mike tottered outside on his bike shoes, returned with a credit card-filled Ziploc and said, “Monsieur, acceptez-vous les cartes de crédit?”
We explained our circumstances, adding we would need a van big enough for us, our bicycles and all the wine we were planning to buy.
As bottles were opened and the wine flowed freely, our heroes pulled up: Three hunters packed into an army-green Land Rover with a wild boar draped across the hood. They climbed out and ran inside, ordering a bottle of Crémant de Bourgogne to celebrate. They offered us a glass, and after a toast, we reciprocated and bought them another bottle.
What followed: Two more bottles, three hours of lively hunting tales and laughter, four cases of wine that we would take back to America, a new set of friends and a ride back to our hotel in Beaune in the coolest truck on the road (did I mention the boar?).
Mike and I agreed: We did Puligny-Montrachet in style too, all thanks to those freakish five flats.