Posted by: Zombi | June 20, 2010

Day 17 Nice to San Remo

I wanted to come up with a classic opening line for my update to inform you I had finished. Something clever but simple, upbeat whilst calm, funny whilst respectful. I have had quite a while to think of what would be appropriate and think I have something suitably intallectual.

Woooooo yeeeaaaahhhh. Haaaa Haaaaa. Have that you scorcher. Whoop whoop whoop!

Fitting I thought.

There was no more fitting way for the journey to end than with the mother of all storms.

This morning I was woken by the sound of thunder crashing down like it was going out of fashion. I don’t know if it was because we are near the mountains but it was louder than I have ever heard. Due to the fact I am as brave as a lion (one of the cuddly ones normally reserved for Tour de France stage winners) I stayed in bed and waited for the rain to go!

When the rain subsided I emerged like a weasel out of it’s… weasel house? (does anyone know what a weasel lives in?) Everything was re-packed, as has been the routine every morning, and just like every morning, the packing has been that little bit more disorganized than the day before!

When I say everything was packed, the wet tent and sleeping mat remained as they were. At this point in the journey I had no intention of sleeping in a wet tent again. “Cheat” I hear you shout. Well I rebuff your, quite valid, cries with the confirmation that, to ensure the correct weight was carried, just outside Nice I bought two 1.5ltr bottles of water which went in my bags purposefully untouched to counter the weight of the tent.

The ride from the campsite to the centre of Nice was wonderful. Dedicated cycle lanes all the way whisking me, past the airport, right on to the Promenade des Anglaise. The ride along this stretch was fantastic, the town to my left, the Mediterranean to my right. All it needed was one out of control poodle (my predictive text proposed ‘poof’ instead of poodle. It made me smile anyway) and I would have been swimming to San Remo.

Leaving Nice to the East I was met with the first main climb of the day up to Eze. A lot of height is gained quite quickly and you get some great views of the coast and the town. Unfortunately, for someone who is not to clever with heights, cycling next to 200ft drops, even with a small wall in the way, does keep you awake!

No sooner had I passed through Eze than I had a great descent to Villefrance sur la Mere and then a climb back up to make my first border crossing of the day into Monaco. The lines blur a little in Monaco with the Principality and the town of the same name and the centre which is Monte Carlo. Before I knew it I was zipping down to the centre of Monte Carlo, taking the famous ‘Hard Rock Cafe’ corner at a similar speed to the F1 drivers who live in the area. I was then on to the finishing straight before taking the 1st turn up the hill towards the casino. At this point I was going at a similar speed to Steptoe on his cart, who has never lived in the area!

Sweating in cycling gear desperately in need of a proper wash I emerged between the Hotel de Paris and the Casino to a hail of flashlights and shouts from excited tourists. I had arrived, my public were waiting. It turned out they were not waiting for me and I had probably just ruined somewhere in the region of 150 photographs of the Casino for tourists wishing to tell of the rich streets of Monaco. A playground for the rich and famous. “But what about the tramp on the bike?” they will be asked.

“Next year dear, we shall go to Wakefield” they will decide.

Photo’s complete I carries straight out of Monaco towards the Italian border. My second border crossing of the day, quite impressive I think you will agree! Now knowing I was going to be crossing borders during the day you would think I would have ensured my passport was safely secured. Well, before you scoff, it was safely secured. Not so clever now are you!

Yes, as I was approaching the Italian border my passport was safely tucked away in the top draw at the campsite 25 miles away.

I had worked on the basis that as this was going to be a land border crossing and hardly a contested border I should be fine. Suddenly I was having visions.

“Your passport sir”

“Ah well, I am awfully sorry but I appear to have left it in France. You wouldn’t be so kind as to let me pop across, I’ll be three hours at most and it would be frightfully kind. I’ll pop right back, I promise.”

“Men, take him away. Full cavity search”

“But sir, shouldn’t we just turn him away?”

“Erm, can I speak to the consulate”

“Men, do as I say”

“I demand my phone caaaaaallllllllllll”

I passed without incident. You have a lot of time to think on the bike.

Pleased I was in Italy, and intact, I made my way through Ventimiglia leaving me with only San Remo to reach. At this point, 5 miles to go. Half my commute to work. It dawned on me, I’d forgotten my shor… (I’ve used that one already haven’t I) I might just make this. What do I do when I get there? Is cycling through the centre, arms aloft too much? Can anything be too much in a country where brill cream should be applied by putting “a grapefruit sized amount in the palm of your hand before running through hair to ensure a full covering”. Should I be more subtle and just pull over and have a quiet moment to my self (and no that is not a euphanism)?

In the end, dissapointingly I rolled in to the centre and realised I didn’t actually know where the finish line of Milan San Remo was and for that explicit reason I didn’t know where I was going. I wheeled round for a while before heading over to the front, to a long straight road which did look like the finish. As I pulled on to the road I heard an almighty roar. Grown men were cheering and shouting. People were dancing about the noise was incredible. I was taken aback. I don’t know how Amy had sorted it without me knowing but what a reception. It was something quite special and was an amazing way to finish. I almost had a tear in my eye.

It turned out Italy were playing in the world cup. I had forgotten. They had just scored. My big moment taken away. It was just like the time at school I was accused of cheating in art. Apparently my tracing of Eric Cantona was way above my usual standard. “Did Timothy do it for you?”. It was a tracing, how could I have got it wrong!

Following a couple of pictures to prove I had made it I then had the rather unglamarous ride, 9 miles back, to Ventimigllia to get the train back to Nice.

Tired, pleased, content and a little confused I showered, changed (I always do it in the wrong order) and headed in to Nice for some tea. I’m not sure it has sunk in it’s finished yet.

The Stats:

Miles: 1234.7

Days: 17 (includes 1 rest day)

Punctures: 0

Repairs required: 1 (electrical tape to rear rack where screw came loose and fell out)

Cans of coke drunk: 40 (ish)

Potential boyfriends on the Journey: 2 (I bet Yogi is still thinking about the ‘one who got away’ (not that I am insinuating he was trying to abduct me!))

Longest day: 19th June – Aix en Provence – Villneuve Loubet – 112.6 miles.

Shortest day: 20th June – Villneuve Loubet – San Remo – 45 miles.

Top speed 42.7mph

Average speed: Still to be calculated but it will be just over 13mph.

Things of note I have passed:
1 dead badger,
1 moped (that makes up for the mountainbiker!),
1 tractor.

I think you will agree that is quite an impressive list.

Things that have passed me:
1 mountainbiker,
1 butterfly (that was quite a humiliation),
1 moped (the road went uphill again unfortunately),
1 Novelty train full of tourists in Monaco.

Embarassing guessing games in Chemists: 1.

Crashes: 3.

Top speed of a crash: 3mph.

Phonecalls to Amy pleading to be allowed to come home: 36.

Phonecalls to Amy where I have been told to stop being a puff and if i didn’t carry on she would sell all my football and cycling stuff on eBay: 37 (she phoned me back once, just to confirm).

Hillarious incidents involving a ferret, tombola machine and a ladies brassier: 0.

Last, but most importantly:

Total money you have all raised: £1146.50 (that includes all monies I have or have been pledged an amount, there may be a little extra to add on to this).

Thank you’s:

Now I have no intention of this being like an oscar winning speech because, well I have not won an oscar and I am sat in a wet tent!

Numerous people have really helped me enormously with completing this trip and I have been amazed with how much we have all raised. The money really is going to an excellent cause and I can only say thank you once again for being so generous.

Notable mentions go to Ravensthorpe Cycling club. Without them I couldn’t have pedalled out of Bradford let alone England.

Saks hair and beauty in Halifax for their generous donation but far more importantly, making me look this damn good.

Karen and Dawn at work for picking up my crap. Dawn, you can have the last laugh as you hand it all back to me and Karen, I know, for the next 6 months you will use this against me in each meeting, document or deadline we have and I don’t blame you one bit!

Simon, Janene and Eva, without their support and encouragement both before and during the trip I would now be in a ditch in Wakefield crying.

Amy Dunn who has had to listen to me whitter on for the past 9 months with unrelenting regularity, rather like a machine gun trapped on ‘fire’, about what bike, wheels, route, sponsorship, clothes etc I need, want, have already got. She has listened, helped and let me prattle away without once telling me to shut up. Then at the end, I sod off for three weeks and leave her with the washing up! I can’t imagine it has been easy but I honestly couldn’t have done it without you Amy. Thank you.

(Amy has just been on holiday, had three weeks away from me and knows when I get back I will be prattling on about wheels, clothes and the Tour de France. Hang on, she has had it easy!)

There are plenty of others who have helped me out massively and it really is appreciated. Don’t think I have missed you because I will remember.

Thank you all so much for your support, we have raised a great amount. (If you still want to sponsor me either email me at Benblyth@yahoo.co.uk or search for Ben Blyth at Justgiving.com)

I will be popping back here for a few more hillarious anechdotes following my trip home (my overnight train to Paris leaves at 9pm on Thursday) and I have also been in charge of a video camera for three weeks so I will pop the videos up in a week or so.

Finally, has anyone any idea how I’m getting my bike home as I still seriously have no clue…

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Responses

  1. Well done Ben! Really pleased that you’ve made it! Da iawn ti!!

  2. WELL DONE BEN!!! You should be very proud of yourself, what an achievement, well done you.

    I’d like to sit her and type, CCD is all sorted, which of course it isn’t , we still have little idea of who is doing what or when, but thats part of the fun…..what we can be sure of is the BPM’s are forever changing!!!!!

    Enjoy your last week off…well done again and see you next week.

    Love, Karenxx.

  3. I’m so unbelievably proud of you luv! It’ such a massive challenge & you’ve taken it on & made it look easy…..well! ;o)

    Can’t wait til you’re home & to give you a massive cuddle!

    Enjoy your few days in Nice & make sure you eat lots of Ferrero Rocher ice cream for me…..even if its just to let the French people laugh at you trying to order it! ;o)

    Love you! xxxx

  4. Well done buddy. Fantastic effort. Going for round the world next time!?! Really pleased you made it and had some fun along the way, enjoy the rest.

  5. What more can one add ?
    Many congratulations for accomplishing your terrific challenge. Must say your blog often made us think you were having a very pleasant biking holiday !
    We shall miss the blog entertainment; you write well,
    Heard the news from your Mum who is very proud, and no doubt by now the whole of Arnside will have been informed !
    and what are you planning for the encore ?
    Love from Joan and Iain


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