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Italy, Monaco France
Day 22 Friday August 14th Genova to Savona Italian Riviera
Riding out of Genova was hard work.
The traffic was typical Italian frantic, lots of agressive little cars and motor bikes trying to go a bit too fast, busses and trucks and multi lane roads.
After 15 km it settled down and we started to see beach resorts.
The rugged coastline meant that there would be a small town full of traffic and beachgoers, so we would crawl through, then a climb to 200 to 300 mts and then back to the next town. After a few climbs we stopped at Varazze for a fantastic fish lunch at a cafe on the beach.
All the other patrons were in swimming outfits and there was a casual holiday atmosphere.
We also walked through the market at Arenzano and bought a few bits.
The market stretched for about 3 Km behind the main street, and from the beach side you would never know it was there.
We started looking for accomodation and by the third town, found a room in Savona away from the beach.
At the beach the hotels rolled their eyes when we asked about a room - holiday season!
Another still, balmy night - temperature dropped to 24 C over-night.
We visited the Sistine Chapel - the original one, built by the same Pope who commissioned the one in Rome.
This was his home town and an enthusiastic and very proud guide showed us around and made sure we knew all about the place.
For legal reasons we cant show you shots of the inside, but it was far more ornate and interesting than you would expect.
The enthusiastic guide shwed us around and went into fine details of the subtleties of the features.
Day 23 Saturday 15 August Savona to Imperia 86km Cum 1490 Do You Have a Room Please?
Hot, Hot Hot.
The day started with a climb and we contiued to climb after each town.
We tried for a room in Alassio but alas, there was nothing.
A sympatico hotelier suggested that Imperia is a more commercial town and we might get in there. It was only 15 Km.
The last climb between Diano Marina and Imperia must have been over 400mts in the peak of the days heat and made us determined to find a room.
We went to all 8 hotels in town and at the last one got the last bed in town!
I went to the local swimming pool/restaraunt and met a lovely women, Janet who
explained how important the holiday on the 15th of August is in Italy and also made me very welcome.
I had a better shower at the pool than Hilary had at the hotel and met Janet's husband Claudio and daughter.
We walked down to the harbour and watched the ceremony for the 15th which included a parade of flag throwers with drummers, midieval costumes, and sailor groups for the surrounding vilages. This was followed by an exhibition of some boating skills and accompanied by some tasty pizza.
I had breakfast at the pool / restaraunt and Imperia goes down as another good spot.
Day 24 Sunday August 16, Imperia to Bordighera. 40Km, Cum 1530
Due to previous problems in Europe on Sundays, getting a room, added to the holiday season and the staggering heat, we decided to set out early and get accomodation before lunch.
The climb out of Imperia was to about 300m and it was nearly 30C before 9.00AM so we were well warmed up.
Being Sunday there were masses of cyclists out.
Most of them full-on roadies, carbon bikes, lycra, cool sunglasses and no helmets.
We had small exchanges with many of them as they went past.
One rider on a flat bar road bike passed us just out of Imperia and we saw him a few times for the next 25 Km.
When riding through a busy town, he turned left across traffic, stopped and called out to us waving - follow me, this way!
We decided to follow him, firstly because he seemed OK and second, we hadn't heard much English even with a strong Italian accent.
He explained that around this corner was the start of a bike path into San Remo. It was a lovely path and we rode together and heard Giovannis life story, meeting the wife, convicing the mother in law, the Kms just flowed.
His warmth was overwhelming and we parted at the sign into San Remo, he showed us the Casino but we were more interested in gelati at that point.
That day, as for the last few, we went through a number of tunnels.
We are OK with them as long as they are well lit and wide enough.
When we came to the 860m one we stopped to put on all our lights.
We stopped about 20Km short of the border at a hotel that caters for locals.
It included an unusual dinner system that we decided to join in on.
About 80 people sat down for dinner and we had a great time with the crowd.
later that night we sat down with Ed and Stan, An American and Brit from Jersey.
They were travelling Europe together in a way that showed a refreshing warmth.
They had met years ago travelling, done many trips in all parts of the world together and were great company.
That night I went through the bike to see why it had been pulsing on descents for the last 2 days.
On inspection of the rear tyre, I could see bits of fabric coming through and a flat spot had developed.
We had brought a spare set of tyres, so I canged the rear. Once off, I could see the rear was a lot worse than I thought.
The sidewall had worn through at one spot and you could see through it.
We did 600km practice on the tandem before leaving Melbourne and about 1500 so far.
This is very poor performance for a tyre.
Only 2000Km for a touring tyre!
I know it's a tandem but Hilary and I and our luggage are about 140Kg which is not much and the roads have been reasonably smooth.
We took off the Primo Comet and replaced it with a Schwable Stelvio and I now know that was a substantial upgrade.
Day 25 Monday August 17 Bordeghera to Nice - Itay, France, Monaco and In the afternoon France Again.
55 Km, Cum 1585
Rode our of town in the morning heat, saw our friends Ed and Stan on the road and nearly followed them onto the freeway.
There was a climb out of Ventimiglia then we were in Menton and suddenly in France.
No border check and it was too hot for kissing cheeks.
We probably did 5 tunnels this morning, some easy, some scary but all of them cool.
We have set up our lights on the bike and helmet and if the sign indicates a long tunnel, we stop and light up before entering.
Another climb and decsent and we are in country no 6 Monaco.
Monte Carlo is a beuifully clean and tidy city. we passed an Italian car shop (Ferrari, Lambogini, Maserati) and walked along the paths with people who seemed oblivious to anyone else s existence. Rerminded me of the famous quote from Miss Piggy - Pretentious? Moi?
Pic above main street in Monaco.
Some refreshments and then onwards it was 11AM and over 30C and with the climbing at around 8% we were getting very hot.
Villifranche (above)was beautiful but involved another climb and then we were in Nice.
Nice was leaping and we checked into a small hotel on tthe waterfront and explored.
There was a lovely historic section but as the night cooled to a still 25C and the noise
of the vehicles stopped we found ourselves in another piazza where a thousand of our closest friends sat down to enjoy the night.
People were eating, drinking, laughing, singing watching and relaxing.
There wasnt the intimacy of Cremona but it was a lovely place to be.
We had climbed about 1000 m per day for the last few days on the coast, and the heat had been
pretty intense so we decided to hop a train to Avignon and see if the Rhone Valley was any kinder to us.
Day 26 Nice to Avignon
We rode to the station and had a meal over the road.
Not thinking, we parked next to a Velo-bleu stand with our blue tandem.
As we got up to get the bike, 6 tourists approached Hilary and asked where they can get 3 tandems to hire for the day.
She explained that our tandem wasn't part of the hire system.
Train to Avignon to escape the heat and have some nicer riding.
Avignon had a lovely old section and we enjoyed another warm night.
The city again kept the vehicles out so the only sounds were of the people laughing, chatting and the various strains of music.
The photo above on the right shows Hilary climbing to a rock formation used for 2,000 years by locals for ceremonies and sheltering animals.
Day 27 Avignon to Bollene - 52 km
Went to tourist office and were told there is no bike path along the Rhone River.
Surprised and disappointed.
Hot again - rode to Orange and stopped for something to eat. Saw no ducks, so no Duck `LOrange.
We rode on and watched the smoke of a fire in the distance. Came round a corner and there it was!
Firemen were doing their thing and there were sirens of vehicle rushing around.
We rode on and came to Mornas and looked at a lovely castle and old town.
As the day got to the mid thirties, the riding got hard and we cruised into Bollene and stopped at a lovely, friendly, air conditioned hotel.
The lady offered to wash our clothes - gratis, the husband drove the bike to a store room and we had fantastic fish meal no 3 for Europe.
Day 28 Bollene to Montellier to Geneva 44 Km
We watched forecast on TV in the morning. overnight down to 24C and max would be 38C in the shade.
It would be a lot more on the road.
I did find out why we couldnt ride along the river.
France has Nuclear Power Plants along the river and it is a no-go zone. Terrorists, someone explained.
This was probably why we saw so few cycle tourists around.
We rode off and as we rode I thought of how lovely the riding was in Switzerland and how ordinary it is on the road.
We rode through the walled city of Danzere and had a tough climb in the heat to Montellier
My goal had been to treat Hilary to the beat experiences that cycle touring can offer so we rode
for 3 hours to Montelliar and then caught the train to Geneva.
Each of the roundabouts had cyclists, as LeTour had come through here.
There were 2 cycle compartments on the train, we only had 2 minutes to get the tandem on board and when I looked, both compartments were wedged full of bikes. I ended up throwing the tandem on top of all the bikes and a nice young German who was riding the recumbent bike helped me sort the bikes out, once we were going.
After 4 weeks of riding, we are enjoying the sights, working well as a team and getting lots of climbing in the heat.
We are probably getting pretty fit and our confidence is good in the traffic.