Thursday, 7 April 2011

France - Cote d'azur

26th 44km

A pleasant start to the day. The ten kilometres downhill is over before I know it and then I start on another mountain pass. With more energy than last night I get stuck in without a second thought – my legs spinning to the rhythm of the tunes on my ipod. The climb is great and with every switchback I'm rewarded with new and interesting views. The colour is yet to come to the trees that dominate the hillside. Any accessible land seems to be used for olives groves or vineyards.

Another tunnel halts my progress but this time I decide to chance it. It pays off. The small amount of guilt I feel is removed when I see two racing cyclists pass through the same way – the rules don't apply to all it seems.

 Stunning downhill take me all the way to Menton. I stop periodically to admire the views – and on one occasion to watch some motorcross racing. I briefly explore the town but quickly abandon this in favour of the beach. I roll out the well tent and sleeping back, pick my spot, and spend all afternoon reading. Evening rolls in. I play my guitar until it's too dark to be seen and then roll out my sleeping bag under the decking of a beach bar (which is closed as it's a little too early in the season). Mediterranean beach bum life for me!

27th 59km

 I wake early and utilise the free showers on the beach. Ice cold water allows my nipples to reach Glass Cutting status. I stuff away my sleeping bag, inhale some banana/nutella sandwiches and then begin on the coastal road West.

I ride through Monte Carlo – figuring while I'm there I might aswell go and see what all fuss is about. I explore the streets for sometime – trying to recall the shape of the Formula 1 track as I go. Down at the famous waterfront there's a cycle race on so I sit and watch for some time. As I do so it dawns on me that little about my life is athletic – dispite my boasts of “so many kilometres this day” etc. Lycra shod men with outrageously chiselled calves throw me cursory bemused glances as they saunter past – the kind of look you might give that animal in the zoo that you know you should recognise...but don't. Aside from a few impressive looking boats – I'm a little dissapointed with Monte Carlo. Dont get me wrong - I'm sure there's some great restaurants with superb food and hotels with elaborate doilies and origami style folded toilet paper. But nothing grabs me...

I move on hoping Nice has more appeal for the vagabiker community. The heavens open and so I don't stay long in the city. A brief internet stop to get an idea of my route and then I make may way inland. I battle with the rain until the light begins to fail. With little in the way of camping (all the land is fenced off) I ask at a motel if I can pitch up outside. My French fails me and so I end up taking a room – and after six hours of riding in the cold and wet I'm very grateful.

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