Tuesday, October 28, 2008

European Cycling 2008 Friday, June 27th

St. Marin Vesubie-Col de la Porte-Mystery Col???-Col de la Madone-Monaco-Menton-drive to Juan les Pins

66.08 mi 6498’ climbing

Once again, we got off to an early start, and after an initial descent, Tim and I wound up on a 2300’ climb of the Col de la Porte. If yesterday’s terrain resembled Colorado, today it looked like we were in the Pyrenees. Later in the morning, we climbed a “mystery col” (Tim, can you help me out here?).

For most of the day, we rode up and down from village to village, on quiet and tiny roads. Tim really did a great job plotting the day’s route out, and his onboard GPS guided us without worry.

The Col de la Madone is a climb made famous by Lance Armstrong. He used to do the 3000’ climb up from his home in Nice as a regular way to test his fitness level. Of course, Trek had to go and spoil it by naming a bike after it:) Tim and I would be doing the Madone in the opposite direction, from the north.

Neither Tim not I are really sure as to what happened, but I wound up in Monaco after missing a turn leading to the top of the Madone. After we had finished the lower part of the climb, Tim took the same wrong turn, and said he yelled out to me as we crossed in opposite directions. I didn’t hear him, and he assumed I turned around and was behind him.

By the time I figured things out, I was a long way down the hill, and by the time he figured it out, he was on top of the Madone! Tim dropped down to Menton, and I traversed over there from above Monaco. Getting off on the wrong route wasn’t ideal, but I did have some pretty incredible views looking down over Monaco and the Mediterranean Sea. On one side of me were misty clouds swirling around the high peaks to the north of Monaco, and down below were the fabulous yachts and high-rises that make up the epicenter of European wealth.

I settled on a beach bench in Menton and watched the early afternoon action. Tim rolled right by me and the two of us rode down to where the car was waiting for us. Just like that, the bikes were loaded, and our riding was done.

After the drive down the Cote d' Azur (during which I slept much of the time), we checked into the Helios Hotel, a four star hotel one block from the beach in Juan les Pins. Just as when I finished the Pyrenees trip last year in Biarritz, it was really nice to have the best hotel of the trip to recuperate in.

Juan les Pins was crowded in the afternoon, and as the evening wore on, it just got more and more busy. We had a nice “celebratory” dinner at a fairly high profile restaurant, and strolled around town before and after the meal.

It seems like just yesterday that Tim and I were discussing the feasibility of a super hard trip across the Dolomites, Italian and French Alps, and the Maritime Alps.

Now we were done with the trip, and I was not only pleased with the riding, but I was really happy that neither Tim nor I had experienced any kind of injury. While I was looking forward to coming home to Tracy in Seattle, I was sad that the adventure was drawing to a close.

If it were physically and financially feasible, I contemplated whether one could just endlessly ride their bike, moving from one stunning part of the world to the next, chasing great weather and incredible roads.

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