Day 36 Tuesday 28th June 2016 98km (3283km in total)
“The bicycle is a curious vehicle. Its passenger is its engine.” – John Howard
My new cycling buddie and fellow traveller Hamadi and I had planed to leave early to avoid the heat of the open coast. However, after starting the day with an Italian espresso and waiting to pay for the campsite, it was well after 9am when we set off.
Hamadi had told me he averaged 20-30km/h on his rides so I was expecting it to be a little faster than my usual speed. Up the first few climbs he was pounding along, almost like it was a race to Nice. I was thinking will we be doing this for the next 90km? I think he was just pleased to start the day as we soon started to ride at slightly easier pace, to my relief!
The fast start had meant that by 11am, we were well on our way towards today’s destination of Nice and could stop at a small Carrefour. Hamadi encourage me to get some fermented milk, which was interesting! Almost like drinking yogurt in texture but full of goodness and proteins.
The roads are still mostly smooth and busy, and like yesterday, often going up over the side of the hills to avoid the cliffs. Some of the drivers here are still crazy, always pulling out without looking or driving so close you feel like the panniers will get knocked off. In one town, I was cycling behind Hamadi who was inches away from being knocked off. A parked cars owner suddenly opened his door wide open. My fingers have to by on the brakes constantly, ready for any sudden movement, like buzzers on a game show!
Only after around 35km, we reached a sign saying 1km to France. It feels like I’ve only just got to Italy!
After a couple of long tunnels, with a Trek-Factory pro on his TT bike whizzing past, we arrived at the border to France. It was the first border in a while with police. They didn’t check passports but looked onwards, looking for any suspicious objects or people.
In the first French town of Menton we came too, we had lunch by the sea. The region around Nice, Monaco and the south of France coast are all very popular with professional cyclists for the roads and the sun. As I ate my pasta with left over Italian pesto, I first saw a bunch of Team Sky riders in a group follwed a few minutes later with a rainbow flash, who I’m certain was Lizzy Armitstead, the current women’s world champion.
Monaco was a little different and I’m still a bit unsure of its legal status. It seems to be it’s own country, under France?! It has it’s own government and monchy though. We were even stopped by a friendly Monaco police lady on a motorbike as apparently we went through some traffic lights on amber!
I felt a little under dressed in my shorts and wide open jersey, as the usual dress code seems to be a full suit and tie, even in 30°c! I’m not sure how they cope!
Both Hamadi and I were slowly getting tired and running low on water. Seeing Nice was a great lift! From the cliffs looking down, it looked magnificent and sprawled along the coast. Luckily there was a bike path along the coast which avoided navigating the busy evening traffic.
However, the cycle path went close to the football Euro Cup stadium. The path was very busy and beaches full of people kicking footballs around.
The path seemed to carry on for mile after mile, with the sun only appearing to get hotter. As we finally got out of Nice center, it was time to say goodbye to Hamadi, who was staying in a campsite, for two days, having a rest day in Nice. It was great to cycle with someone, especially with great english. We shared the views, and had lots info sharing about education, politics and of course cycling.
Jean and Magali were great Warmshowers hosts, and it was amazing to hear about Jean’s recent Ironman, a super long distance trialthon. I was tired and hot, but after being kindly fed gazpacho (a Spanish cold tomato and vegetable soup), showed and heard stories of their adventures, it was time for a well deserved sleep!