Wednesday, March 31, 2010


With Felice Gimondi fast approaching, a couple of the Ranchers decided to take a run down to Nice and test themselves on the Col de Madone. An old Lance favorite. It's been a long winter and the folks who needed the test most, met up last weekend in the quaint Mediterranean village of Villefranche sur Mer. Friday night, Cali and Zeke met Noshow at Nice airport after sloshow was the last to arrive. A stopoff in Nice proper for a Galette and a beer (delicious) and over to the 2 star (40 eur per night) hotel on the harbor. What a treat. Until of couse 30 seconds after laying down to sleep, Easy E lets out a small snore only to be followed up by louder and louder snores. And when not snoring it was the sleep apnea inhales. Net net, noshow heads out into the corridor to find another bed to crash in. Luckily, just down the hall he stumbled across an open door and laid down to slumber. The only noise being 2 lovers letting anyone within a 1 kilometer radius understand their passion.

The ranchers were met with a sunrise over the water that was just beautiful. A nice breaky downstairs on the deck of the hotel and soon after were saddled up for the pedal down the coast to Menton.

As we rolled into Menton about 45 minutes later, noshow's new gps for the bike was a great addition as the real turnoff is tricky to find. Many a rider have missed it but the Ranch was prepared and hit it just right. So the sea level to 940 meters was a twisting, beautiful sunny ride up up up. Easy-E faded after a few kilometers but hung in there all the way. Noshow and Cali chatted most of the way up with no fight for the lead. It was a pleasant ride, challenging enough but we weren't out to blow up, just to train. 2.25 hrs later and we reached the top. Breathtaking views all the way up. Someone clearly stole the sign at the top as indicated by the french mtn biker relaxing after he had come up the other side.

Zeke arrives a few minutes later and the reduced Ranch team descended down the other side and all the way down into La Turbie. It was a beaut. Long roads with curves you rarely had to slow down for. Let the bikes open up. What a pleasure.

Once in La Turbie we turned onto the Grand Corniche to ride back toward Nice. The turnoff for Villefranche was down the Col d'Eze which was well know in Paris-Nice and which we would do the next day.

Across to Villefranche Sur Mer and home. What a wonderful ride. 3.5 hours.

A late lunch in the center of town recommended by Easy E's friend as the best place to eat in France. Let's just say it wasn't quite what it was billed to be although fine in its own way. The beer was good anyway.
So a ride to Northern Italy was in the cards to check out the scenery and a bit of real estate. Could be the biggest mistake of 2010. Net net, I believe it would be safe to say that none of us will be venturing there again. Probably ever. No other comment.

So 4 hours later we finally get back to home base. A quick nap then Cali decides to treat the small ranch contingent to dinner. (Odd you say? yes, dear reader, it appears the boy is attempting a non "selfish/only child syndrome" poke at the world.) Question is still out whether or not the new leaf has been turned.
Dinner was had at a quaint little restaurant on the hill in the small village. It was a nice meal, a glass of wine and good company. A nice stroll along the sea back to bed (Noshow sorted out a separate room to sleep in) and the boys were slumbering along dreaming of sun on their backs and breezes in their faces.
Sunday after a moment of confusion over the time change, the boys were fed and suited up and excited to do half the ride in reverse. Col d'Eze included. So a grind out of town, up to Eze village and that left hand turn up the vicious col d'Eze. CAli up and gone, noshow dropped by 50 meters. Easy E out geared and overweight in the midsection just had no choice but to grind gears all the way. 15% grade close to the top. That was a lover.
After that , turn right and up to La Turbie. Turn left and Noshow and Cali decide to kick into top speed and go for it up to the base of the back side of Madone. Was a great ride. Easy E makes it up a few minutes after and the descent back home. 2 hour Sunday ride, crisp, beautiful. Can't even make it up.

Lunch in town again and the boys pack it up to get Cali back to the airport on time.

That's all she wrote.

Look forward to Verbier in a couple weeks for another trainer.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

the alternative ranch trip

While certain ranchers were riding the col de madonne in the south of france - others opted for a weekend in Niiseko on the island of Hokkaido. Pictured are rideremilian and riderpitts hanging out after a day of ripping groomers.

The traditional japanese Onsen proved a perfect regeneration tonic - a few hundred metres down the road from the chalet.