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…