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October 2013

Brignole

Meninblack

Since the headwinds were strong along the coast, we went inland before St Tropez towards Grimaud and Gonfalon.  This meant a long climb with beautiful scenery and slightly more modest winds.  At this point, my quads are shot from hills and it took some extra Gu and caffeine to get me through the day.  We stayed in Brignole which is not much of a town, but they had beer, pasta and eventually ice cream.  You really can't go wrong with vanilla.  

It's fair to say that Brignole's beauty was greatly enhanced with alcohol and the ProHDR iPhone app.  This thing is amazing.  However, it did cause a net decrease in our traveling speed to an average of 21kph.  The ride from Brignole was very cold the next the morning (5F) but was quite scenic, especially in the afternoon as we got closer to Aix.  After 7 days of cycling and 700km, my legs were glad to be done.  It was a great trip and we were most fortunate to have good weather.

 


Côte D'Azur

Deux cafes

From Nice we cycled down to Ste Maxime, facing strong headwinds in the afternoon.  I was grateful to be able to draft behind M. Pavan.  Scenery was beautiful but temperatures went up to 28F making it a bit of an ordeal.  

We were grateful to find an excellent Vietnamese / French restaurant in Agaye for a late lunch.  Otherwise, many locations were "Fermé la saison."  To say we are obsessed with food would be an understatement. 


So Nice in Nice

Zack coast
It was a tough steep ride into Nice through Gourdon, but beautiful.  Weather in Nice was excellent with about 5 minutes of rain and mostly cool weather for the climbs.  Food was fantastic, as usual, and we stayed in the same hotel for two nights, which was a rare treat.  

That also meant that on our "easy" day we were able to drop about 5 pounds of bags from the bikes, making the climbs somewhat less taxing.  On this day, Mike and Pavan cycled the Col de la Madonne, a famous Lance Armstrong training ride.  Kaj and I cycled the Grande Corniche, then into Ventimiglia, Italy and through the Formula 1 Grand Prix Tunnels of Monaco.  Luckily Kaj had 2 beers at lunch that day and was fearless.  


Gorges Du Verdon

Vertical chart

One of the most scenic parts of our trip was cycling from Valensole to Grasse through the Gorges du Verdon. This was a beautiful and sceneic ride, but a long one: 150km, with 2,500m of vertical climb, following our first day of 130km from Aix.  Still, we got to stay in a castle in Valensole which was pretty cool.  

Nonetheless, it made for a long day and as a result of a couple of wrong turns we finished in the dark coming into Grasse. It was somewhat terrifying to be coming down steep mountain roads in the dark, but drivers are very good about watching for cyclists and we were grateful when we got near town and had streetlights to provide visibility.


Around Aix

  Globe

We started and ended our trip in Aix-en-Provence which is about a 30 minute bus ride from Marseille airport.  It's a nice, friendly city with lots of excellent restaurants and cafes.  We have reservations here in Aix at the Hotel Du Glove and also at a castle in Valensole after the first day of cycling.  Otherwise we are riding without fixed plans. Since it is the low season, we figure we can find two star hotels pretty easily.


Cycling Gear

  Bags

Our bike trip is a seven day loop from Aix-en-Provence to Nice through the alps and then south along the coast. We're going without panniers, just carrying everything we've got in two small bags, one on the handlebar and one on the seat post. But the hills are pretty long and steep, so it make sense to sacrifice in order to save weight.  

For those who want the details, here's what I brought:

-1 pair cycling shorts
-1 pair wool socks
-1 short-sleeve mountain bike shirt
-1 long-sleeve MEC wool shirt 
-1 technical short-sleeve t-shirt
-1 lightweight nylon shell cycling jacket
-1 pair cheap canvas walking shoes
-1 pair camping shorts
-1 pair briefs
-1 toothbrush, toothpaste 
-Vitamin C 
-Ibuprofen

Gear:
-2 water bottles
-1 lock
-2 Alan wrenches
-1 innertube
-2 Gu packs
-2 off-brand energy shots
-iPhone 5, charger 


Ceci N'est Pas Un Bike

Check-in
Yes, my "camping gear" is fine, thanks for asking.  Actually, the Aircaddy box ($40 on Craigslist) contains two-wheeled camping gear, namely my Specialized Roubaix road bike. But United, and most other airlines, charge you $200 if you pack a bike and they charge you $0 if you send camping gear, ski equipment, golf clubs, archery equipment or just about anything else.  


Out Of The Office

Out of the office for a week and a day
Where I'm bound I just can't say
So I'll leave this riddle for you to guess
Can you tell me, where is X?

Touring is Nice even if Too-long
Hope there's no rain, headwinds not strong
Days filled with clicks and vertical meters
Evenings carbo-loading tricolored liters

So here's another clue for you all
To unravel our mystery tour this fall
Each morning Kaj, Pavan, me and brother Mike
Declare to the world "-- --- ----!"

 

Post your guesses in the comments below.  Check back for updates.