Another year, another adventure.
This time last week I was cycling along the South Coast, struggling up Beachy Head with my nephew Ian (who, incidentally clocked the second fastest time this year on one of the Strava segments).
Today I’m breezing along the Cote d’Azur. I say “breezing”, but there’s absolutely no breeze; and it’s hot. No, I mean hot. And it’s only 9.30 in the morning; French time.
On leaving Nice Airport, I follow my nose; unfortunately my nose is pointing the wrong way. Time to get my brain in action. Sometimes I wonder if my brain is in my nose. My children would say it’s big enough
Having circumnavigated the airport, now the right way, I follow the busy cycleway alongside the coast towards Antibes for about 10 miles before turning N to Biot, the first of many hilltop villages bursting with charm; a quick stroll through the market.
I climb steadily, through Valponne and on to Grasse, famous, of course for its perfumes, and situated at the top of a steep hill, where I stop for lunch – a croque, a deux-boule ice-cream and an iced tea. Delicious!
Onwards and upwards!
A few miles beyond the town I discover the marked cycle route – “Les Alps-Maritime a velo” – and it’s an absolute beauty: descending into the gorge diagonally in steep zig-zags to the rising valley until it meets the river, tens of metres below the ancient bridge; then up …. and up ….and up!
The saving grace is that it’s a quiet road (almost no traffic) through stunning scenery. At one point I rest by lying on a stone wall adjacent to the road – a tadge uncomfortable. Hey, what am I thinking of? On the bike I have 10m of heavy-duty bubble-wrap (to lie on) and a padded bike bag (for my head). Ten minutes of bliss!
Forging onwards I realise I’ve drunk the last of my water, and there’s no sign of an end to the climb. In this heat it could be serious.
A house on the right, with two people working in the garden. A stumbled request and I’m ushered to an outside tap. What wouldn’t one give for water in these circumstances? The staff of life; I drink 2l with barely a pause.
Eventually I reach the mountain-top village of Mons; or “Mouns en Prouvenvo” as it proudly proclaims on the village sign; my intended destination for the night. Horror of horrors – there’s no hotel!
Chatting to a local in the village square, I’m informed that the nearest is 14 km down the road at Fayence. There’s nothing for it, but to go on. Downhill, he assured me – and it was to start with; until I realise Fayence is in the next valley – up and over the ridge. Enough is enough.
I eventually stagger into Fayence-en-Provence after 6pm and tumble into its one-and-only hotel. A strange sight greets me on the street
And do you know what? I thoroughly enjoyed what was all-in-all a fantastic day.
Distance travelled 53.1 miles
Elevation gain 7,296 ft. WOW!
Travelling time 5:5:22
Average speed 8.9 mph (believe me – not bad over
12 th May 2015