Cycle diary (part2 of 3) - Southampton to Assisi

Day 7 - Menton (107 miles)

Early morning view from Ganagobie monastery.

The monastery garden - very Mediterranean in character.

Pete trying out an alternative form of locomotion...

The entrance to the monastery church which dates back to the 12th century.

Once we'd come down from Ganagobie monastery's beautiful mountaintop location to the Durance valley below, a headwind stayed with us all day through the Alps, funnelling down each valley we rode through: the first few kms heading north, then a long stretch east eventually following the Var river. At highest point of the day - the Col de Toutes Aures at 1160mtrs - we were almost blown off our bikes by the force of the wind coming over the mountain pass. We've never known a wind like it.

Riding through the Alps...

Lunch at Lidl.

Then all the way down the Var valley to Nice (east then south), another headwind. Couldn't profit from the descent. Had to fight the wind all the way. By the time we got to Nice Pete was in a bad way with his back after his fall in the bedroom. Sitting behind me for shelter, riding through the pain. But a wonderful welcome from a community of enclosed sisters at Menton on Med coast beyond Nice. One is a trained nurse and gave Pete a special bandage to put on his ribs whilst in bed. There would be so much to tell about our arrival there... let's just say we made friends with the local Gendarme (policemen) at a rainy, cold Menton railway station whilst waiting for 2 of the nuns to ferry us and our bikes in 2 trips up to their mountaintop community 3-4 miles away.

Pete's injury seeming more and more like a cracked rib, but his support + encouragement continues to be priceless. I'm worried about how he is going to feel tomorrow. But he's tough and I get the feeling he would only abandon if he really felt incapable of turning the pedals on his bike. However, right now I need to make sure that he's ok. So we'll see what tomorrow brings...

I knew this would be my toughest sponsored ride yet, but I am very happy with how I've come through physically. Knees = pretty good apart from in rain + cold. Achilles likewise. Shoulders + neck bad for a couple of days only. Now fine. Main problem has been last 2 days. Sciatica type numb pain in right buttock + then down back of whole leg into the side of my foot. Relieved by riding out of saddle. Also, left hand + wrist goin numb. Pete has something similar. 107 miles today in all.

Day 8 - Recco, Italy (127 miles)

Well, Pete seemed to have got a decent night's sleep despite the pain in his ribs (the Sister's bandage seemed to help) and he felt well enough to set off as planned this morning. I was very relieved.

The morning view from Menton convent. 

In the descent from the convent, heading for Menton.

Ascension Day... at least in Italy, where they haven't moved it to the nearest Sunday. 127 miles covered. A day of riding along the Franco-Italian Mediterranean coastline... pretty much one long procession of Riviera resorts with occasional headlands to climb over. 2 smelly cyclists passing through the playground of the rich + famous and those who just want to look like they are rich + famous... Pete + I fell into neither category, though we weren't impressed by the standard of bike that the average Italian trundles around on.

Terrific cycle track along the coast through Genoa.

Took great pleasure in overtaking "serious" local cyclists in smart lycra who "ride like tarts" according to Pete. Ascension Day celebrations seemed to include local road race cycling events and a fascinating cycling proficiency competition for very young road racers in full lycra gear riding racing bikes and for which the police had simply closed the main road through the centre of one particular town. We ended up cancelling our planned B&B accommodation for tonight which was further inland (in the hills), so that we could stay near the coast (= a slightly more direct and hopefully slightly flatter route... still conscious of Pete's injury). Found a very nice little hotel in Recco, east of Genoa with a lovely view of the steep-sloped headland that we will have to start by climbing tomorrow. Well, at least it will give us a nice warm up early doors!

The view from our hotel at Recco.

... final part to follow...

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