Andrew Davy Navigation to Nice

I’m not new to physical activity; 18 marathons, 1 Ultra to date – none of them competed to any great standard. Maybe I like the idea more than the commitment. A young family, a demanding job – they all seem ‘good excuses’. This summer though I’ve had the opportunity thrust upon me to do something different. A 9 week sabbatical from work, our associated charities 30th anniversary – the logic was clear, do something to support and raise funds for ‘Ronald McDonald House Charities’ and somehow the ‘Navigation to Nice’ was dreamt up. An 850 mile cycle ride from Calais to Nice.
No particularly big background in cycling (C2C 2016 in 15hrs), no great commitment to train. I set off nervous, excited, slightly over weight but almost expecting this to go well.
Day 1: 109 miles to Peronne just east of Amiens. 5062ft elevation gain Day 2: 100 miles to Epernay in the Champagne region. Arrived too late to try any – 4439ft elevation gain.Day 3: 112 miles to Laignes. Much flatter after the start, just 2810ft gained.Day 4: 101 miles in the Burgundy region. Have to climb to the plateau but it’s goes on for miles. Windy all day – wind farms galore. 3600ft of elevation.Day 5: 88 miles to Lyon. 2894ft gained. First experience of glorious long distance cycleways. Tracked the Soane River for half the day.Day 6: 77miles to Valence – an absolute disaster. following the Soane & Rhône rivers all the way. Pancake flat, running on empty. Getting very hot now all day everyday. Only 1300ft of elevation!Day 7: 98 miles to Avignon. similar elevation to yesterday but I’m a cyclist now. Powering through yesterday’s wobble, managing the heat better although the wrist wouldn’t agree.
Later this night I’m trying to eat only to notice blood spewing from sores on my lips. Caused some panic, I’m now applying lip balm every hour during the rides, uppedMy water intake to 3L just when finished. Stopping for additional whilst out.
Day 8: 91miles to Barjols, elevation is picking up knowing what lies ahead tomorrow, gained 2720ft today.Day 9: 97 miles to Nice. 7300ft elevation gain only days so much. 4 proper climbs in the morning exhausted everything I had, only to face vertical walks in the afternoon. I maintain a cyclist could not pedal those. The views are remarkable. It takes nearly 11 hours to complete.
A fantastic, debilitating journey. France is a beautiful country and see so many different cultures, lifestyles all the way down to the Med in such a short space of time was amazing. Route planning must improve. A rest day was required. I should have worked Mnt Ventoux into the equation, but I suppose I was here to get a job done. 
I return fitter, healthier, better looking than for many a year. Can I keep it up? I hope so.  I’m part of the OTCF family and will hopefully make a group event sooner rather than later 👍

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