This week’s on this day post comes from the 10th-June-2010, and I’m in Italy. After a brief detour into Monaco the day before, I’m now heading towards Samoens in France, where I had a few weeks of work. Yes, I did use to work! It was a tough day’s cycling as I cycled towards the Col de Tende.
Thursday 10th June. Menton, France to Savigiano, Italy. 81 Miles.
Another tough ride today. It took me nearly eight hours to cycle seventeen miles this morning! After looking at the map last night. I decided that my best route to Samoens was via Turin, Aosta and Chamonix. But to do this, I had to cycle back on myself and go back to Italy. Something I hate, I hate going back on myself. It seems such a waste of time
After returning to Italy, I headed up the SS20, which ran beside the river Roya. The road had a gentle gradient, with the river Roya on one side and a railway line on the other. As I cycled along, I looked at my map and spotted a 1200-metre pass ahead! I hadn’t seen that last night, or maybe I chose not to see it! There was nothing I could do about now. I certainly wasn’t going to turn around! And to be honest, if the road stayed at this gradual gradient, it’d be fine. It didn’t!
It was pretty fantastic riding up through the gorges with their sheer rock faces. With just my road and the river between them! I saw hydro stations and villages perched high up on the mountainsides as I rode up. After a few hours of cycling, I came across a little shop and thought I’d stop to get something to eat. There wasn’t a lot in there, just some soap, razor blades and various other random items that were of no use to me at all! But on the counter, they had some cold pizza and a couple of small cans of coke. I bought them all! The pizza was divine and hit the right spot!
Another couple of hours passed, and I was still cycling uphill. I was now starting to feel tired. But then I turned a corner and saw the snow-capped peak of Col de Tende. I thought there couldn’t be much further to go and speeded up. Only to be thwarted a short distance up the road, with a sign saying fifteen kilometres to go! I’d been cycling or on the road for five hours, and I’d only come ten kilometres! And the last five kilometres were a killer when the road turned into a 14% gradient!
Eventually, I reached the top, only to be greeted with a tunnel with a sign saying no bicycles! What? Balls to that, I’d spent eight hours getting up here. There was no way I was going back. So with a final burst of energy, I started the three-kilometre ride through the tunnel! Every 200 hundred metres or so, markers were pointing the way to the emergency exit. And every time I passed one, I’d think, a quarter of the way through, then halfway through. Then I was three-quarters of a way through. Surely if I get stopped now, they’d let me continue! Finally, I made it out of the tunnel, and I hadn’t gotten caught. Once through the tunnel, I hurridly put a couple of extra layers on, ready for the ride downhill. I didn’t want to hang around just in case somebody challenged me about how I got there!
After the tunnel, I made good speed, as you would expect and cycled the remaining 64-miles of my day in four hours. Unable to find a campsite tonight, I’m staying in a hotel.