Into Italy! Nice to San Remo (58/12,126k)

(written by Dave)

We had a nice day riding from Nice to San Remo (sorry, couldn’t resist one more nice/Nice comment)…

We were up early but pretty slow getting going.  Even though we test packed everything last night, items kept appearing from out of thin air.  The bags went from having a little extra space to busting at the seams.  Nancy tried taking all the extra napkins and paper towels from the kitchen but eventually she gave up on them.  I suggested that they may have napkins in Italy (just a hunch).  But these are the things you do when you are a little nervous and feeling a bit like you are jumping off the end of the earth (editor’s note – I was just trying to avoid the embarrassment of Dave wiping his hands on his socks, as he is prone to do unless I hand him a napkin or paper towel – first impressions in a country count, you know).

It was after 10:30 when we finally rolled away from the apartment.  The bikes felt very heavy starting out and both us had a good case of the wobbles for the first few hundred meters.   It is always hard to get used to a loaded touring bike when you first ride one, even if you’ve ridden many miles previously.  By the time we reached that waterfront, we were already feeling much better.  We stopped for photos and minor bag adjustments.

Traffic was not too bad, even though we’ve read a number of other bicycle blogs who noted busy traffic along this route.  It may be that it is saner than SE Asia (our most recent benchmark) or perhaps we are just early enough in the season.  We saw quite a few professional bike racers out today.  We didn’t get any photos (they are too fast) but we saw lots of groups of 2 and 3.  We saw the following teams:  RaboBank/GreenEdge, BMC, LiquidGas, Astana and a few local teams.  You can tell the pros because they have matching jerseys, knicks, arm and leg warmers, helmets, plus team bikes.  They go about 50/50 on wearing helmets.  Try as we might (not!), we were not able to grab any of their wheels for a draft.  The Rabobank/GreenEdge guys were clearly Aussies as they were talking quite loudly.  Funny to hear that when you least expect it but a nice sound nonetheless.

We rode through three countries today, France, Monaco and Italy.  We’ve only done that in one day once before that I can remember (Germany/Holland/Belgium).  And Monaco is all of about one square mile in size so it’s hard to call it a country.  There were no signs for Monaco but you knew you were there by the fancy cars and yachts in the harbor.  The Italy sign was hard to spot because it was completely surrounded by caravans.  It seems that they park there for carnival and the Menton citrus festival (which is also going on now).

We had a late lunch on the water overlooking the sea in Menton.  We didn’t have much with us but the bench and location was to cool to pass up.  Later we stopped in Ventimiglia, Italy at a snack/crepe bar.  Here we had great crepes and our first proper Italian macchiato.  The macchiato was fantastic – we love Italy already.  I mean, this was not a fancy snack bar and the cappuccino machine not high end, but there you go, prefect coffee, just like it should be in Italy.

Eventually we made our way to the outskirts of San Remo.  One of the professional bicycle spring classics finishes here in a few weeks time (Milano-San Remo) but unfortunately we don’t have enough time to hang round for the finish.  We stopped just short of town at a campsite that we found online.  The tent area is completely empty so we have it to ourselves.  There is no grass, just cobblestones but it seems like a nice place otherwise.  We had looked at some hotels in town online but decided to try the campground.  They have internet which is great as we did not have a chance to get our phone/SIM sorted out today.  The restaurant is opening up a bit and is already hopping.  Everyone is gearing up for a big bingo game tonight.  We are debated taking part – it sounds fun but these Italians get a late start (dinner with the bingo didn’t start until 8pm) and we are both pretty tired.  We opted for pizza and some red wine – just the thing to put us to sleep (though I don’t think we need any help).

Tomorrow we have a bit longer day planned but should be able to make an earlier start.  Assuming that Nancy doesn’t find a stack of paper towels in the lady’s toilet (haha), packing should go a little faster.  We’ll have to stop and get the phone sorted somewhere.  That should be fun as our French and English are pretty useless here – no kidding!  Actually, that’s not really true – they get enough French visitors here that it seems like most people understand what you are saying if you speak French and the languages seem very similar.  Of course, the Italian is spoken at a much faster rate and appears to require lots of hand gestures!

We have another campground to aim for tomorrow night, near Pietra Ligura.  Perhaps they will have some grass for tent camping – I expect we might need a bit softer surface after a night sleeping on the cobblestones.

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8 responses to “Into Italy! Nice to San Remo (58/12,126k)

  1. Good news on the first day “on the road again” to bad I am not with you, napkins are my specialty. Stay safe

  2. “wow” back on the road….thanks for sharing Nice with us it looked fantastic and a great place to visit, O and im sure the pro teams are lucky they didn’t get you after a few weeks of touring,they would have been a little embarrassed watching you riding past them. Ciao

    • This is the place for you Ross. Every other guy passing us reminds us of you! And the bikes, wow, more carbon than you can imagine. Plus the coffee is not too bad.


  3. How nice. What a nice ride. What a nice writeup. What a nice time you had.

  4. Watch out Nancy. John’s mother got into collecting the leftover napkins at her assisted living place and trying to foist them off on us. Sometimes they were a bit used.

  5. What a trio of countries to get through in one day…….! Happy to see you on the move again
    vicarious sun and blue sky

  6. I’m very happy you are back on the road! Look forward to many exciting entries!!! Hope I can ride three countries in one day sometime…

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