Have been riding a road bike for several years in Houston, TX. Retired to Bordeaux to follow a romantic interest. Exchanged the road bike for a Jamis Nova cyclo-cross bike with fat tires before I move over, so I could ride the towpaths of the canals that run across southern France from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. Did that last month during my first cyclo-tourism outing. Nearly 700 miles in 10 days across France and back, including a side trip up the Montagne Noire to the reservoir of the water that feeds the Canal du Midi. Lovely area to ride in, but the towpaths are mostly in bad condition -- lots of single tracks thru high grass, large tree roots, loose gravel and rocks, mud. Great for improving bike handling skills, especially for someone who has not been much off pavement before, but not an experience I'm not ready to repeat right away.