Cycling to Italy

Its taken me more than two weeks to blog on my mega cycle ride we have reached Italy after cycling over the alps. We have done around 50 to 60 miles a day and it has got easier as we have got fitter and the Col du Petit St Bernard with its 5 per cent gradient was not the great obstacle we thought it might be. So far 750 miles on the clock and it has been a wonderful experience. You see a country like you never would by any other transport mode except walking which would take forever.

The disappointing aspect is that cycle facilities are just as bad in France – or even worse – than in the UK. There are terrible little cycle lanes that go nowhere and often there is absolutely no thought for cyclists. You can suddenly find yourself on the French equivalent of a clearway from which cycles are banned.

The worst, ironically, was Annecy where it seemed impossible to get into the town without going on one of these banned roads, where we got shouted out by various motorists, most of whom were trying to help! Ironically, I say, because round the lake there are on the whole – with some notable exceptions – good facilities and an excellent cycle track heading out towards Albertville which is very heavily used.

The drivers in France, for the most part, are much more attuned to seeing cyclists on open country roads, and you don’t get people shouting at you for just being there, as happened on numerous occasions on our practice runs in Kent. 

Overall, though it has been a fascinating experience, and one which is far easier than I had imagined. But, of course, I took too much luggage…

  • percy

    The dearth in comments I find interesrting. Had you mentioned a flanged wheel on a steel wheel there would be a t least ten comments by now.

    You cant beat cycling and once you get going you do get fitter and knock more and more miles off each days. 750 miles sounds a long way until you break it down into 50 mile rides.

    I’ve always found the major bugbear to be motorised road traffic, its good to get away from the roads, thats why I like what sustrans is doing with old railway lines, ( Now watch the comments flood in !!!!)

  • percy

    Sorry that should be Flanged Wheel on a Steel Rail.

  • Dan

    Well Percy – I was waiting for abit more blogs on this one with contrasts between Italy and France – although I must say I did find the points about cycle provision in France interesting. The point about being on open country roads is most interesting – as as an infrequent cyclist that is what I find highest risk in UK (which may not in fact be accurate – just my feeling).

    Let’s hope Christina can give us some cycle / rail interface feedback to get the dicsussion going (ie any space on SNCF for bikes?)

  • Ian Raymond

    Agree with Percy that you can’t beat cycling – always feels as if it’s given a bit of a mental boost on the days I cycle to work too, arrive with a more positive attitude.
    Major bugbear I find tends not to be all motorised traffic – lorry drivers I’ve always found to be professional and considerate and even cars show a bit more awareness than they used to -but bus drivers seem the worst (round here anyway). And by that I mean positively dangerous: overtaking way too close, ignoring cycle lane markings, not signalling… Anyone similarly affected?