The Green Army: Dignes-les-Bains to Nice
The Green Army are a team of seventeen cyclists, completing various stages of the London - Paris - Geneva - Nice cycling challenge. They are cycling in support of their good friend and colleague who has been diagnosed with lymphoma. To date, the team have raised in excess of £30,000 for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research through this event alone!
Day 4: Dignes-les-Bains to Nice
The last day of the ride started early as we faced some serious climbing almost from the off, and mileage in excess of 90 miles. The briefing the evening before left some feeling a little anxious as we were advised that within 3 miles of the start we would commence the climb to the top of the Col du Corobin, with the first 3 miles of that climb at a gradient of 10%. It proved to be as challenging as we had imagined, but we were rewarded at the top (9 miles later) with spectacular views.
The day continued in the same vein with 4 cols in total to be scaled plus another climb apparently not deemed worthy to be called a col (seemed like a col to me, basically uphill for a long way!).
We stopped for a cold drink in the picturesque town Castellane and then continued on with the ride. The final drinks break was set up at the top of the final climb, and ahead of the 35 mile descent into Nice. By this time the weather had started to close in and we seemed to be above the cloud base. This proved a blessing for some as it was difficult to see exactly how high we were. We descended through the Gorge de Loup, with twisting roads and precipitous drops on our right with only a low wall between us and the abyss! This proved too much for one of the riders, who had to walk with his bike on the other side of the road. To Steve Hutton and myself, this just offered the opportunity for some rapid descending with great views to boot! We flew down the mountain, and I can assure everyone cycling downhill at speed is almost as hard as the uphill bits. At one point we were faced with the prospect of overtaking a slow moving car, as bikes can actually negotiate the twists and turns quicker than most cars.
Eventually the road started to level out, although still downhill, and we found ourselves riding through increasingly built up areas. We finally reached the beach, where Seb (one of the DA team) was waiting with two other riders who had beaten us down. Over the next 30 minutes all of the other riders appeared and there was much congratulations being exchanged. Mr King and I celebrated with a ice-cream. The last rider in was Malcolm McLean, and once he was with us we commenced the last 5 miles of the ride along a flat cycle path by the beach, into the heart of Nice. Once there, we were greeted with champagne and photos were taken of the whole team, and then of the Green Army. The only thing left to do was take a swim in the sea, with two hardy GA riders, Terry Macey and Peter Brown, taking up the challenge.
All that remained was to check in to the hotel and then prepare our bikes for the flight home, before changing ready for the celebratory dinner. Not surprisingly a few drinks were enjoyed, and we presented Andrew Morgan with a birthday cake, as he had celebrated his 50th birthday 3 days before. After dinner we hit the town, although Nice on a Tuesday night is not the liveliest. The evening was topped off at 2am with Big Mac and chips, the late night food of champions!
We enjoyed a relaxed morning and then a very enjoyable lunch in Nice before heading for the airport late afternoon, and fortunately flights were not too delayed by the air traffics controllers strike action.
All in all a superb trip, with excellent weather (aside from one afternoon, see earlier blog!) and good company. On top of that the team raised over £32,000 for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.
Next week we start planning the 2015 ride (no I am not joking!).
Thanks to family, friends and sponsors for all their support.
As they say in French cycling circles, chapeau to the Green Army!!!!