A big push to the coast ↑ all posts

A big push to the coast

“It never gets easier, you just go faster” Greg Lemond

The biggest day of cycling so far, 100 miles south to the coast, over the highest road in Europe, the Col de la Bonette. I’m feeling much stronger now on the climbs, and for the first time I’m actually passing people rather than being overtaken every few minutes! Not that I was counting, but I managed to get past eight people on the way to the top, and held off a team of four guys in matching lycra who set off on the climb from their support car a few minutes after I started. Still painful, still difficult, but I’m definitely getting faster.

The Col de la Bonette proudly declares itself to be the highest road in Europe, but this is in fact not true. The Col itself is beaten in height by a few others in France, so to remedy this situation they’ve built a loop of road heading up higher round the pyramidal peak of the Cime de la Bonette. This is a final 12% gradient sting in the tail at the end of a long climb to over 2800m, but worth it for the views. 120 km south from here is the Mediterranean, and Nice, my destination for the afternoon.

Nice, at sea level, is almost 3 km vertically below me and the road down from the Col de la Bonette doesn’t disappoint in speed terms. Winding hairpins through the upper slopes becomes a long and continously downhill road along the base of a river gorge, following the Tinee river to the sea. I arrive in Nice in the late afternoon, exhausted but extremely satisfied as the Alps disappear into the ocean.