My beloved returned yesterday evening from a hectic week in the UK. I let him sleep in this morning as there was no pointage, just a club ride to Aspremont. Instead, we decided to ride over to Menton and tackle the Col de la Madone. However, my beloved was feeling really fatigued so rather than ride over to La Turbie, we descended to Menton and retraced our steps.
Thanks to the gloriously warm summer-like conditions, the roads were busy with holiday traffic (Monday’s a Bank holiday here). We spotted 2 Rolls Royces, 6 Ferraris, 1 Lambourghini, I Bentley and only 1 Aston Martin. Yes, we take note of the number of high value cars we see when we ride over in the direction on Monaco. We do not include Porsches, Mercedes or BMWs, far too common, though we do include Audi R8 Spyders.
With lunchtime almost over, we stopped at a small Italian roadside restaurant in Eze, where we could leave the bikes in the courtyard garden, and enjoyed a magnificent spaghetti with clams, followed by that Italian classic “Tiramisu”, which was deliciously light. Seriously fortified, we pedalled home strongly to catch the action on the Monte Zoncolan.
As anticipated the man who saved his legs yesterday, Ivan Basso, distanced everyone on that 11.9% average climb to the finish. He was followed in by (in order) Evans, Scarponi, Cunego, Vino, Sastre and Nibali. David Arroyo is still sitting pretty in pink, ahead of Ritchie Porte in white, followed by Basso, Sastre, Evans, Vino ( looking good in the red point’s jersey), Nibali and Scarponi. I’m sure they’re all looking forward to tomorrow’s rest day, I know I am.
My guests have departed after a very enjoyable few days. The boys arrived Thursday evening in time for a light dinner. It was very windy that evening and I had hoped it might blow away the rain clouds. But no, we awoke to torrential rain. After a hearty breakfast we went to one of the larger bike shops for a browse and then collected my beloved from the airport.
After lunch, the weather cleared, the sun came up and started drying the roads. We walked down to my LBS for a browse and a chat, returning in time for me to prepare dinner.
Saturday dawned bright and warm so we set off around 10:00am and headed towards Monte Carlo where we stopped for coffee and the boys admired the local attractions (all female). We decided to return via La Turbie which afforded them plenty of photo opportunities while waiting for me to catch up. Thereafter, it was a swift descent past Eze village to Nice and home.
After lunch the boys had a wee cat nap and then fortified themselves with some of my fruit cake. Saturday evening we dined at a local restaurant which has recently changed hands. We were delighted to find that the cuisine had further improved and the new owners were resting neither on their laurels nor on the reputation of the previous owner.
Today’s pointage was at Valbonne and it took me longer to warm up this morning so that I was soon distanced by the rest of my clubmates on the climb out of Biot. Resigned to riding on my own, I was shortly joined by a rag bag of riders from other clubs and merrily rode with them. They expressed horror on arriving in Valbonne to discover an Antiques Fair on the spot where the pointage is normally held. I was able to direct them to the correct location on the other side of the village.
I arrived just after my club had departed the pointage so I rode back, as is my wont, with riders from another club, cutting a good 20km off the proposed route so that I could return home in time to prepare lunch for the ravening hordes, all three of them. The boys departed after lunch while my beloved went to meet a business contact in Nice. I rewarded myself with a lazy afternoon on the sofa in my fleecy track suit (what else) catching up on the sports news. Both my football teams recorded draws: Spurs 0-0 AVFC and OGCN 1 – 1 Lille. AVFC take a point from one of their closest rivals for 4th place, while OGCN steadies the ship.
First up, my heart was gladdened by the number of wins recorded by the more mature members of the peloton: Rocket Robbie (Katusha) in the Trofeo Palma de Mallorca, Nico Eeckhout (An-Post Sean Kelly) on the final stage of Etoile de Besseges and Ale-jet in GP Costa degli Etruschi. Sky romped home 8 seconds ahead of the rest in the TTT at the Tour of Qatar putting Edvald Boassen Hagan in the leader’s jersey where he’s going to be difficult to dislodge. Quick Step’s Tom Boonen is 20 seconds down after his team finished 5th. Cervelo initially finished second but were penalized when an eagle eyed Chinese judge saw Barbie Barbie Haussler push a colleague. Cervelo claimed he was just steadying him, but the commissars remained unconvinced.
On a more sombre note, I was saddened to read of the untimely death of the maestro of the Italian road racing team whom I was fortunate to meet in Varese. My condolences go to Franco Ballerini’s family and friends.
I’ve had another of those readership spikes (263!) but this time it’s not completely obvious which blog entry they read, though it seems likely to one of those where I was discussing cycling near Eze. Possibly people planning a week end break in the area – who knows.
I was hoping to illustrate this post with some fine photographs, taken by my beloved, of my club mates, our sponsors and a couple of pro-riders (Amael Moinard and Andrei Mizurov) enjoying the Galettes des Rois yesterday evening. Sadly, his photos were not up to scratch. This has left me in something of a quandary as I also needed a photo to illustrate my article for Nice Matin. I’m now going to have to ask my fellow club mates if any of them have photos which fit the bill. I knew I should have taken my camera too.
Many of my fellow cyclists remarked on how much they had seen of my beloved recently, noting that it’s very rare for him to be at home for this length of time. They also expressed their concerns as to how I was coping with this. I replied that I was bearing up well despite insane provocation.
The evening went well. We had a good turnout of members and their families with everyone enjoying the selection of galettes, the mince pies, the Xmas cake and the Rocky Road. I took a couple of the remaining few slices of Xmas cake down to my LBS where it was enjoyed in record time by the owner, his assistant and a local rider.
Monday and Tuesday were cold but sunny. We rode for a couple of hours both days. But it started raining late last night and continued well into this morning. I really don’t need to ride outside in the rain. After a quick session this morning in the gym, this afternoon I cleared a few administrative matters relating to the club. The outlook for the rest of the week thankfully looks clear ahead of the defence on Sunday of our regional title at Beausoleil. M Le President will be working, so I have been entrusted to rally the troops. Woe betide anyone who turns up without their licence!