Day 5 – Roquebilliere to Monte Carlo

10 Sep

Final day!

After getting blogs up to date, had a good night sleep and I could tell Jason did too, as I could hear him snoring!

Felt good energy and no sickness – whaahaay!  A quick briefing about finishing arrangements in Monte Carlo – complicated because Classic Tours cannot put up signs and we cannot park the vans at the “finish line” – M0naco is a bit of a p0lice state.

Had a very pleasant (cool – requiring wind jackets) descent further down the valley to the start of the first climb.  No slouch – was a billed 900m but on my Garmin turned out nearly 1,100m.  Thankfully, nearly the whole climb was in shadow – I was dreading the heat – and I even felt strong in the middle third, keeping Richard (Bruton) and John at bay.  Things were looking good until a succession of wide boy racers in souped up Renault Meganes kept rorting past at high speed – very disconcerting.

Steep-ish (7-8%) with many switchbacks – but steady gradient – see photo below, you can just see Gideon manning the van on the loop, at the halfway stop:

I started to tire towards the end but found Oli’s wheel and kept with him to the top, after seeing Richard and John “sprinting” the last 50m (too much testosterone boys!).  At the Col, there was an (illegal) timing gate for the Renaults we’d seen early – they gave us a hearty wave, not knowing how close some of their drivers had come to wiping us out.

Miraculously, after a breather I felt good….and hungry.  Excellent nosh at the top, courtesy of a saussicon stall  (a bit random I thought but, Elin – I’ve bought a big one home – hope it lasts the journey – do those things need to be chilled?).  Although it didn’t feel like a “pass” – more like a country park in the pine forest and very Mediterranean – it was a named Col, so we had our picture taken [photo to follow].

Everyone was near-euphoric, as this was the last proper climb of the event…wasn’t it?

Still a little cool so we donned the wind jackets for the descent – in my view the most picturesque yet, although the roads were in the worst condition we had suffered – very bumpy and hard on the….saddle.

Next up, the last climb of G2MC – a “short” 600m ascent to the village of Peille.  Not particularly steep – but challenging enough and VERY hot, and not long enough for a halfway stop, so a slog all the way up to the village.

Matt Claridge – one of our stronger riders – decided to take some photos on the way up, so we ended up doing the last few switchbacks together – a rare event for us to be cycling together, and took a great photo of us coming through the streets of Peille, surely one of the most beatiful mountain villages in the South of France [photo to follow].

We all convened for a pizza lunch – cooked in a kitchen built into the side of the mountain – 2 at a time so the pace was nice and leisurely.

After lunch, a small climb to the road down to Monte Carlo – the steepest hill in the whole ride (my front wheel left the road on a couple of pedal strokes) – thankfully only 100m long.

Took a few photos looking back at the village (the pizza restaurant is to the right of the yellow building, under the trees):

We then set off down the mountain – over some undulations – toward Monte Carlo.  another long descent – these valleys seem to go on forever.  There was a nasty stretch of 2km of new chippings on the road – very disconcerting and took that very slowly.

There was a brief photo opp above the town:

…before we went in procession down the switchbacks into Monte Carlo.  The team did me the great honour of asking me to lead, with Ian Pilgrim, the kit-meister next to me.  We had to repair a couple of punctures on the way but made the gardens above the casino by around 3.15pm:

We must have looked quite a sight, because a couple of tourists wanted their photos taken with us!  Jeff the doctor was on hand to administer the Kronenbourg 1664 – good show!

After we split up – temporarily – we all packed our bikes away and showered, before returning for the KPMG cocktail party (thanks Louisa!) and a celebratory dinner in Monte Carlo.  At dinner I thanked the Classic Tours team – Louise and Natalie in the office, Gideon, Claude, Pete and Jeff on the road.  We then said our goodbyes to those staying in Nice, had a few more beers in Monte before bed and sleep without the nervous thought of climb, climb, climb….

The consensus seems to be to arrange a similar event next year – are these people mad?  In the meantime, I will continue to post photos and omissions from the group.  Please keep your comments coming!

A final word of thanks to our personal and corporate sponsors (Validus, SPF Private Clients, Freshfields, Conyers, Mayflower, Citadel Re, KPMG and Paddy-O’s).  If you would like to send a donation for our charities, please send me your pledge by email.

Thanks for reading the blog.

Best.  Charlie

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5 Responses to “Day 5 – Roquebilliere to Monte Carlo”

  1. Simon (Jason's brother) September 10, 2012 at 1:58 am #

    Great blog, thanks for taking the time and effort. Congratulations to all.

  2. Jon Milward September 10, 2012 at 8:25 am #

    well done to all of you, the commentary and photos really bring thr trip to life – feel exhasued reading it! fantastic

  3. Robin Mayor September 10, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    Extraordinary achievement – well done CT and Jason and all the rest of the gang.
    Robin
    p.s. CT keep that saussison out of the sun!

  4. Jacqueline Grassi September 10, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

    Bravo to you all, I enjoyed it from my “canapé” Jackie from Annecy

  5. john french September 12, 2012 at 5:56 pm #

    Sounds like an exhausting and exhilirating trip. Weather looked great too. Congratulations!

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