Thursday, 22 August 2013

Our Euro Bike Tour Day 1-3

Saturday 17 aug 2013 Home- Nice.

What a mammoth journey. It started with a three hour drive down to Newcastle Airport then the stressful business of getting the bike box checked in and then the relief of seeing it disappear down the chute of the outsize baggage counter, somebody else's turn to worry about it now. Another three hours later was the relief of being reunited with it in Nice and discovering it to be undamaged in transit.
Rebuilding the bike, Nice  Airport
It always seems rather bizarre opening a huge box in a busy airport concourse and starting the rebuild job of a big tandem all under the watchful gaze of machine gun totting army security men before brazenly abandoning aforementioned box and skiddaling of down the darkening streets of some European city, in this case Nice. I really hope we've never caused a security alert with our abandoned suspicious packages that we've randomly abandoned here and there around Europe.
Despite the hour being late we were very well looked after by Margaret and Bernard and were soon in their flat devouring copious quantities of cheese, pate, bread, and Margaret's excellent home made rabbit  pie before turning in for a well earned kip. Only problem being the outrageously hot temperatures (well for us folk from the frozen north it was bloody hot anyway)

Sunday 18th Aug 2013 Nice - Cuneo

let the journey commence
So this morning after a leisurely breakfast came more travel stress as this time we switched our travel mode to rail. Nice to Ventimiglia in SW Italy. We'd been assured by Margaret and Bernard "don't worry all the trains will be quiet on a Sunday afternoon you'll get yourselves and the tandem on no problem, aye right, I have never in my life seen such a busy train station and subsequent train. Ok there weren't people riding on the train roof like in more exotic countries but every possible space was taken up with hot sweaty humanity all eyeing our large tandem with distaste as we completely ignored their disapproving glowers. What was worse though was we had been cast into the wilderness, so to speak and were well and truly on our own.
Now, we new we were going to have to blag our way onto the next train as we knew that tandems were not particularly  welcome on Italian trains. I was also fully aware that my knowledge of the Italian language consisted pretty much of two words, bellisimo and pizza. I knew this would severely impact on any meaningful blagging so restricted myself to a less subtle approach and kinda barged my way slowly but forcefully onto this equally packed train and concealed the tandem from any nosy officialdom by surrounding it with hot, tetchy Italian fellow travellers.
  Remarkably, and with little trouble all things considered and against all the odds we have now reached Cuneo, the train ride having offered us loads of mountain views just interrupted now and again by tunnels. Of course being now in Italy we felt compelled to eat pizza, anti pasta and all that Italian good stuff before heading back to the hotel room for a well needed rest.

Monday 19 Aug 2013 Cuneo - Asti


65 miles

Had a fairly lazy start to the day fannying around on FB and a leisurely breakfast. One of the reasons we delayed was we really weren't sure where we were making for that day. I sort of had 50 -60 mile in my head  but it really depended on the weather ie how hot it was and what the terrain was like. I thought it looked fairly flat but it remained to be seen.
Once on the road though it was pretty level, at least for the first 25 mile and we covered that quickly, in fact we were bowling along on flat smooth roads for ages with a cross/tail wind that had us eating up the miles. Until that is we reached Fossano where we hit some hills.
They were proper switchback hills too and it was bloody hot,  32C and little wind. The scenery here was the best of the day though with villages full of ramshackle buildings that looked impossibly old. Some great descents too where we reached our highest speeds of the day, just short of 40mph (68kph) on lovely smooth roads with wide sweeping bends so no braking was required.
We inevitably hit the flat again though as we swiftly moved on towards Alba. Sadly it proved to be a bit of a dump and we were neither of us too keen on staying there, particularly as we'd got there in good time and didn't feel any need to stop. So we headed off again aiming in the general direction of Asti. On route though the weather was changing and starting to get pretty wet. We first tried a nice little village hotel but it was shut so moved on to the strangely, randomly named, Fairy Queen hotel. This was a weird place, it was actually closed, the hotel and restaurant shut for a holiday? In August?, ok then. We were offered a room though and the hotelier assured us there was a place to eat only 20 metres away down the road. The thing was though we felt like we were reenacting The Shining in the deserted hotel. cries of "Here's Johny" could definitely be imagined.
What with that, no Internet access and as we subsequently found out no nearby food we decided to leave. This excited the hotelier no end and we were subject to a barrage of anti-English abuse and threatened with the police unless we handed over 20% of the room rate which would have meant handing over €18 which we didn't and just to annoy him we smiled and told him we were Scottish not English, a wee lie but seemed to score a point for us. We pushed on another five miles or so and got ourselves into a hotel in Asti (Genoa Hotel) that turned out to be a gem. Thoroughly quirky and with excellent food in a lovely, if oddly and randomly decorated restaurant we were fed with what, to us seemed to be a really authentic Italian meal of ratatouille followed by beef in wine sauce served with salad. It was really delicious and capped off an eventful day.


  1. don't you go getting us Scots a bad name! ;-)

  2. I have really read this blog completely and this incident has undergone after a long time. At all, I have felt to bookmark it as this article is awesome.
    tours and travels

  3. Thank you Jeni, really glad you enjoyed it. Where are you from?