Saturday, 29 September 2012

Day Ten – Trans Alp Challenge – Sospel to Roq Brune Cap Martin (the Mediterranean Sea)

Day Ten – Trans Alp Challenge – Sospel to Roq Brune Cap Martin (the Mediterranean Sea)

  • We have finished!!!! What an achievement.
  • Distance travelled in total – 550km – from Geneva to Monaco!
  • Vertical metres climbed today – 324m (we have biked the equivalent to the top height of the new ‘Shard’ building in London)
  • Total vertical metres climbed to date by bike – to the top of Mount Everest and beyond now!
  • Beers – 10, Wine – Red and not enough
  • Condition – Wet from biking into the sea at Roq Brune
  • Men with Berets – Still now two!
  • State of mind – Elated and sad!
  • Money raised for St Peters Lifeline - £1,645.00 - Thank you so much everyone -
  • Anyone ever fancy taking up the same challenge - Wilderness Breaks -  
On the first day of our adventure and challenge we were faced with icy and freezing conditions, puddles thick with ice! What a contrast to our tenth day, a warm 23 degrees in the very pretty village of Castillon, just outside of Sospel. 

Castillon, where we stayed just outside Sospel with views down to the sea

Our last ride and amazing drops down to the Med

'Carbon' Fabrice - our mountain Guide

First views of Monaco

A short stroll through the village in the sun with the Medieval Church bells ringing to set us off on our way. The sea is in sight, it will be a short ride down from here, through the easy gently descending tarmac roads and through the pretty hillside villages of the Alpe Maritime high up above the Mediterranean. Then down to sea at Roq Brune Cap Martin where the streets will be lined with well wishers. Motorcyclist outriders clearing our way and champagne drunk as we gently roll down to the beach and seaside!

Oh, how wrong can I be!! ‘Carbon’ Fabrice takes us up the minibus higher than we were staying, the road narrows dangerously and the small protective concrete blocks disappear from the side. A very long way down from here, my heart visits my mouth on several occasions. The views are stunning as we look back to the Cotes D’Azure longingly as we climb further away.

No Trans Alp Challenge can be without one final adventure and a last roll of the casino dice before we descend down towards Monaco! Fabrice was never going to let us get away with it too easily and still he mentions ‘a short climb maybe, some steep, some technical and a little more climb perhaps’. A master of the understatement as we picked up the Trans Provence race route once again. The telling ‘TP’ signs were clearly visible on the tracks, this trail is designed to challenge the best mountain bikers in the world whom are timed down each of these sections and the best cumulative time overall wins. Oh shit! I had mentally switched off and thought we had arrived at our destination – big mistake. Fat Lady, await some more, keep the champagne on ice a wee while yet, we have work to do!

Sheer drops, traverses with nasty getting ‘oh so much narrower’ paths and rock falls littered our path, steep rocky and pebble sections and lets not forget the tree roots angled dangerously towards the precipitous edge. The fast way down to drop into Monaco was to my left and sometimes to my right, once or twice either side!

The sea way below looked spectacular and inviting, but a very long way down. Our challenge was not yet over and time to get my biking head screwed back on, sunglasses off, discard the champagne flute and James Bond black tie and time for business. More of the same as before, tumbling down through forest, mountain edges and cliff paths until suddenly all opened up and there was the incredible sight Monaco below us. Large cruise ships moored up, opulent Russian Oligarch sized yachts the size of Chelsea Football Club moored up and helicopters darting in and out like honeysuckle bees laden with ‘golden’ pollen to and from their opulent hive.

From here it was a set of tricky rocky steps switch backing to and fro and then onto the road down to the tiered village of our seaside hotel. We skipped down the many steep backstreet alley steps with glee, and rhythmic style then landed on the beach road, a few more yards to go to the beach.

The waves breaking could be heard and down onto the beach. Four sweaty, dusty and relieved mountain bikers went straight into the surf to the amazement of the stunned bronzed sun worshippers lazily enjoying their peace and quiet. 

The views down the cobbled steps across to Monaco

We are here, the sea and seconds before we dive in - what a feeling!

We had made it and we exchanged high fives all round only missing ‘9 foot tall’ Christian whom had crashed out badly yesterday.

A wonderful end to an incredible adventure, a seriously tough challenge but an incredible time with so many memories that will live with me forever. A great bunch of guys thrown together pushing each other through tough moments but and sharing the exhilaration of the highs!

A huge thank you to ‘Wilderness’ Adrian (his website is Wilderness Breaks)  for this opportunity and an amazingly well organised trip. To Carbon’ Fabrice for his guiding, tuition, patience and just being the best biker I have ever known. ‘Carbon’ Alex for his incredible hill climbing and fitness that I have only ever witnessed from Brian Jacks in the 1970’s Superstars! To ‘Wheels’ Josh for getting our bags secretly from place to place somehow as the trails he had to experience were in many cases tougher than ours! My room mate ‘9 ft tall’ Christian for putting up with me and sharing ‘Garmin’ lingo.

A wonderful experience – I loved it!

Au revoir - Merci.


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