Belgian Diaries 2.0 | France is Nice
The house was quiet the morning after the DVV race in Brussels. With the Kona Crew on their way to Spain, it was just my friend Tetsuki Kaji and I left in the house. After a few weeks of racing, the week ahead held some chill rides and Nice weather on the horizon (lol).
Ready for a Break
I’m not sure if both Gullegem and Brussels are included in the Kersteperiode, but finishing up on Sunday offered a welcome break from the cycle of racing and recovery. The frietjes were also a big help!
Tetsuki and I were able to get out and enjoy the sunshine for a bit, riding over to Wallonia for some waffles, and enjoying a few slippery laps at De Donk. Since Europe was having their individual national championship races, I was looking forward to a couple weeks of no racing. I packed up my bike and headed down to Nice, France for some sunshine and base miles.
Nice is Nice
As I landed in Nice, I broke out the casual sunglasses for the first time since November, and was already smiling before I stepped out into the bright sunshine. We made our way back to the AirBNB and I got to work putting my bike together while Connor went out for a ride. The temperature change wasn’t super significant from Belgium (50F vs 60F), but the lack of wind and clouds made it feel like I had traveled to the southern hemisphere (a bit hyperbolic). Regardless, my mood was much improved.
Riding in Nice is pretty fantastic. There are options to stay along the coast and enjoy looking out at the Mediterranean Sea, or you could turn North to the hills and log miles and miles of elevation gain. On my first ride of the week, we made our way around Saint Jean Cap Ferrat before heading inland to Levens. I was glad to have my bar bag for snacks and stashing layers over the course of the ride. If you think you overdressed, just wait until the sun disappears behind the hills and you’re searching for that neck gaiter you dropped.
Each day we would check out some new route. The first day was a ride to Levens. The next an adventure along the coast to Italy and back. And so it went, logging miles and soaking up every ounce of sunshine in hopes that it would exponentially boost my body’s vitamin D production. It had been months since I rode longer than two hours, but the long miles at endurance pace were a welcome change. The problem with racing all the time (every weekend since the first of December for me) is that your overall endurance starts to decline. And during the cyclocross season, that endurance is vital to continue competing at a high level – hence why all of the World’s best racers head to Spain for mid-season training camps.
My other favorite part of riding bikes in the Cote d’Azur is the numerous climbs that dot the coastline. The coastal road has a tendency to get busy with cars and other motorists, but fortunately there are climbs like La Turbie, the Col d’Eze, and others to get away from traffic. Coming from Texas, where climbing is not a thing, being able to pedal uphill for 30 to 60 minutes was novel and fantastic at the same time. Fortunately, the views were enough to distract me from any suffering that I was inflicting upon myself.
The beach, the sun, the climbs, the café stops. It would be easy to believe that I had mailed it in and was on a cycling vacation. But, the trip was not all pastries and coffee, and I had to get back to work during the last week of my stay. I’ll spare you the minute details of my intervals, but in short the Col d’Eze is no joke and World Tour guys are pretty strong. Work done and dusted, it was time to recover and pack up to head to Brittany for the next round of the Telenet UCI CX World Cup.
It seems like it’s been forever since I’ve raced my bicycle, but I’m genuinely excited for what lies ahead. With friends and family coming over to spectate in the coming weeks, I’m hoping the rest and recovery I’ve had here in Nice will be enough to generate some good results and close out the season on a high note! And if not, there is always Belgian beer and frietjes.