- Elizabeth Cameron-Smith
Day 58 - Au revoir France! Nice to Diano Marina, Italy
" My best effort.Three countries in one morning.France, Monaco (amidst the craziness of the Grand Prix) and now...Hello Italy!! I'am looking forward to great pasta tonight!"
-Whatsapp message from Grant
Saturday 25 May
Grant wasn't feeling well - although this isn't in his voice note of the day; he has been struggling with a tummy bug caused by a bacterial infection for a few days - drinking Rehydrate and water from a tube doesn't bode well for long term health.
I could hear in his voice that he was taking strain and being woken up in the early morning by the tram sounds and heavy road works just outside his window didn't make the start of the day too pleasant considering he hadn't slept well at all.
He took a walk up the hill overlooking Nice and took some photos and asked a guy to take a photo of him and the #I love Nice sign.
He set off with many cyclists onto the corniche climb out of Nice on the way to Monte Carlo...a hard slog up the hill with the most incredible scenery and views out onto the Mediterranean Sea. The idea was to climb up out of Nice and then go down into Monte Carlo and take the coastal road all the way into Italy.
Cyclists have to take the high road out of the city as only cars are allowed to take the tunnel road into Monte Carlo- this meant climbing all the way up and then coming down onto the lower road again to get into the Principality.
Grant really picked an auspicious weekend to travel here- probably one of the most famous events on the European calendar is the Monaco Grand Prix and the whole place was in the throes of the event which was happening the next day.
Very glum policeman and traffic officers were everywhere with most of the roads having been cordoned off or barricaded with limited access unless one drove a Ferrari, Bugatti, Porsche, Aston Martin or Lamborghini...it is after all the playground of the rich and famous! Lots of luxury vehicles driving at speed didn't make for safe cycling or pleasant travelling on the shoulder of the already narrow roads and Grant felt quite unsafe as the drivers were all showing off!
Grant got into Monte Carlo but getting out was quite a mission. Asking a grumpy policeman which way was best to leave and travel towards Menton, he directed him towards a tunnel and another policeman; all of this while fast cards circulated in limited access areas and the hive of activity was centered in this very small enclosed space.
Needless to say there was no other policeman and Grant went through the tunnel and when he came to the second tunnel he entered that one too and while he was riding he looked back to see that there were two policemen at the entrance on the other side....so he turned around and rode on the sidewalk towards them to ask them how he could get out of this mess without breaking the law or being squashed by a vehicle.
After a stern dressing down for riding on the sidewalk and being in the tunnel on the bike and Grant explaining that he was only there at the order of their colleague, they calmed down.Grant asked them how to get to Menton and the one guy pointed straight up to the sky.....and his colleague told Grant to go through the tunnel, around the circle and straight up the mountain until he got to the top - that was the only way out!!
A tough climb with noisy cars thundering by.Complete craziness!
At the top of the mountain the view over Monte Carlo was just fabulous and Grant had technically now traversed back into France as the coastal way was closed and was now on the higher mountain road again headed towards Cap Martin and Menton, the last city in France before crossing over into Italy.
Thankfully on beautiful mountain track the scenery was exquisite and with the traffic having died down considerably Grant could enjoy it all without the stress of the traffic and the noise.
He stopped at Menton for a baguette and a coffee before crossing the border ( surprisingly manned by heavily armed personnel).
Riding through Ventimiglia and heading through on the coastal way towards San Remo on the cycling and pedestrian pathway which was wonderful and impressively well maintained and demarcated. On reaching Diano Marina, Grant decided to stop for the day as he loved the setting and the beauty of the place.
A truly spectacular day on the bike from a scenic point of view, travelling through three countries and making it through more tunnels in one day than he has traveled through on this trip all together! Some of them were exclusively for cyclists and pedestrians and others just for cars and bikes and some well lit; but the noise is quite something with motorbikes and cars riding in enclosed spaces- something that one doesn't consider when driving in cars with windows shielding the din.
The biggest change however - besides the scenery and the food was the amount of scooters and motorbikes on Italian roads in comparison to France and Monaco - Grant commented on the fact that he thinks the numbers have quadrupled at least!
Mad scooter and motorbike riders - weaving and speeding and doing the most unbelievable stuff on the roads!
A lovely evening awaited with a huge bowl of pasta, lots of vegetables and Grant's beloved Peperoncino! Another highlight at the end of an incredible day on the bike!
Our mission. Their future.