ALPS – SALAMI – BROKEN BIKES – DUSTY TEETH – GRAVEL – SMOKING BRAKES
*Video link below*
So weeks have passed after our this year’s big bikepacking journey in Italy and France and I guess the best time to write down my so called adventure diary, has come. This September we took our butts and bikes and went straight to the Alps. And boy, was that a journey!
The adventure started on September 3rd, when we took our things and my bike (Roland’s bike went to Turin by Shipitwise) and headed to Tallinn airport to fly to Munich and then to Turin. After almost 9 hours chilling in Munich and 1,5 hours of exciting flight over the Alps we finally arrived to Turin. I was really anxious to see if I actually will get my bike or it may have been sent to somewhere in South-America instead. Well, luckily I got my bike and now we just had to hope that Roland’s bike will get there also. So we started to hike to our Airbnb home (which we had for two nights) – we saw one really helpful Italian who literally put us on the bus, which was really crowded but hey, we saved quite some kilometers with it, hiked through the beautiful city of Turin and arrived to our Airbnb home in Turin. There we got some really good homemade pasta and two different cakes which were both amazingly good (or we were just so damn hungry).
The next day we understood that Roland’s bike had been lost a few days but luckily we got it and Roland hiked to Rivoli and got it – thanks, Ciclocentrico and Valerio! Same time I got to be a real tourist and took quite a long walk in Turin.
Happily brought together with now both our bikes we went to the Torino Nice Rally dinner on Piazza Giambattista Bodoni for some beer and pizza/pasta. We met all the happy faces who were already waiting to get on the road – some the second and some the first time. After the meet-and-greet we headed home to get a good night sleep.
In the morning we headed to Piazza Giambattista Bodoni again to start the route. It was actually really cool to see so many bikers, all so different, but all waiting for new adventures. We made a group photo and then headed to the mountains. The ride through the city was a bit like our own Tour d’ÖÖ but much sportive.
After we got out from the city we headed through tarmac roads and some gravel and then the climbs started. It was really nice riding there – we got to see beautiful little mountain villages, made some stops to see the beauty of landscape and gather our strength. After some time we took a left from the main road and then the main ascent started. I think I have never felt so much pressure on my little feet than on that climb. After a bit I felt that it would be smarter to just push my bike. Roland had some more strength and tried to still ride the climb but when the gravel started, he went to pushing also. So, there we were, pushed our bikes (which were both 20+ kilograms) up from this really cool but really tiring mountain road. After pushing the bikes for quite some hours we got almost to the top – Santuario della Madonna degli Angeli (a catholic church) near Colle del Colombardo. We were tired, hungry and it was already dark and quite cold but what views there were – a moon and stars in the sky, beautiful lights from Condove down below and all those amazing bikers who were there with us. So we put up our tent and went to sleep.
The next day we went up to Colle del Colombardo – made some photos and then started the descent towards Condove. We saw a lot of cows, a lot of sheep, had a flat tire, saw more breathtaking views, put heat on our brakes, poured water on the brakes to cool them down, drank water like horses (actually all those days) and had real fun coming down from up there.
As Roland felt something was not quite right with his bike, we had to re-route a little bit. So we decided to see the little Italian villages on the foot of Alps and go back to the main stradas from Limone. Our little plan changer was really fun. After Condove’s tasty pizza we took nice roads through forests and small villages, almost from some houses backyard, saw beautiful lakes, Lago Grande di Avigliana and Lago Piccolo di Avigliana, got to take singletrack next to the big road, went through a little river between the forest, had certainly some more climbs and after a place called Trana we started to find a camp spot to rest the night.
The next stop was Cumiana – again an amazing small village where we had breakfast from the local bakery (damn it was good) and watched some cool turtles doing their stuff in the fountain. After the breakfast our day went by more exciting roads between the forests, some more singletrack, some more climbs and therefore some really fun descents. We went through fields of grapes, apples, pears, kiwis, plums and corn and we saw a bit more different landscape next to the Alps. We got to also ride next to quite a big road which wasn’t so nice because there were no lane for bikes nor an area where we could ride by bike. But despite some reckless drivers and dense road we arrived to Saluzzo where we decided to take a hotel room to wash and rest. This evening we also got some thunderstorm and quite a rain so we felt quite pleased that we had chosen a hotel over the tent for this night.
After Saluzzo we hit the road and headed to Cuneo to get a check up in a local bike mechanic shop and see what’s wrong with Roland’s bike and if there was anything to fix. Well, there wasn’t – Roland’s bike rear hub’s left side cone disintegrated and he didn’t get nor a new hub or a new wheel. So after the local mechanic had put some grease and well awaited hope on it we decided to go to Limone Piemonte and see what happens next. On the road we saw more TNR bikers who headed the same way as us. In Limone we knew that if we would go up, we could meet some difficulties so we decided to get over the Alps by bus (trains were cancelled due to some road work in the area) but before that we decided to stay in Limone for one more day to rest. Well, can’t really say a resting day because we took a whole day to hike around the mountains without our bikes (at least the bikes rested) which was also a lot of fun. I could imagine what Limone would be in winter – lots of skiers and winter tourists and lots of snow, like winter wonderland.
The bus ride through Alps was mesmerizing – we felt like two fools who were constantly watching out from the window and whispering all the time “Did you see that?” and “Look at those peaks over there!”. The same time all the local people on the bus were either sleeping or in their phones. Well, it was an experience and something what we cannot relate to bus rides here in Estonia (although our landscape has so much beauty and difference). After a couple of hours we arrived to Ventimiglia – a city in northern Italy, Liguria – next to the Mediterranean Sea. This place was so much different from all the earlier cities and villages we had seen. Now we took our bikes again (at the same time we just kept hoping that nothing else happens to Roland’s bike) and after some kilometers we were on the French-Italian border. From this moment, Italy was behind us and new adventures in France awaited.
It was already evening and we rode through Menton to Monte Carlo and arrived to Monaco in night. Monaco in night was exciting – we got to see the night lights over the city, the happy and sad gamblers on the sidewalk, the harbor with so many expensive yachts and boats, the security guards who did their job very properly, and some good views over Monaco and Monte Carlo. We accidentally even saw Le Palais des Princes de Monaco. The first plan was to ride to Nice but we thought we should have some good rest so we went up from Monaco and took some roads towards the mountains. I think it was about 1 am. and we still had not found any proper place we could stay for the night. I even started thinking that I’ll just put my bike next to the road and sleep on it. Luckily Roland found us a proper place to camp and we got some good sleep after all (somewhere near La Turbie).
We headed towards Nice and went through some climbs and descents to Éze where we had a breakfast and a walk through the little village which was filled with oh how many tourists. Rested a little bit and made some more photos and then the next stop was Nice – Café du Cycliste, which was also a finishing point for the whole Torino Nice Rally route. We got there, met some more bikers along the way, got some really good cappuccino and felt good because we had arrived to Nice! The following few days we stayed at an Airbnb place and enjoyed the life as tourists in Nice.
So all together, I know that our route was different from this year’s Torino Nice Rally but still we got the mountains and the amazing small villages, we got to see so many different landscapes, rode about 700 km, ate really good pizza, pasta, cheese and meat and drank some really good wine and beer and saw Italy and France in all it’s glory. And we got to ride with so many awesome bikers who we met on the road. That was our Torino Nice Rally 2017 and it was an adventure! Thanks to the organizers and thanks to Roland for planning such a cool journey for us!
Check our video HERE!
See you next time, TNR!