DAY 35 – TRAFFIC JAMS and PISA

We were up early and slept well, its good to be in a French campsite, today we are heading back on to the E80 motorway that follows the French and Italian coastline all the way through the Cote d’ Azure and on to Pisa.

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A very pleasant early morning ride along the Cote d’ Azure, the busy holiday towns clinging to the waters edge, all was well, we regularly stopped on the side of the motorway to take photos until we approached Nice.

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About 20 km out from Nice the traffic came to a standstill, I waited in the line of stationary cars being a polite and considerate motorist…….but after a few  minutes my consideration for others wained and decided to ride down the middle of the cars, we thought the traffic jam was only a few hundred meters long and it was great fun weaving down the centre at first, but the jam was going on Kilometer after Kilometer and became quite tiring after 15 KM.

There was another two bikes behind me weaving and dodging, some car drivers deliberately closed the gap to prevent us from going through, I would get inches from their side windows and rev the engine clutch dumping and breaking so the bike bobbed up and down with lots of noise, they would soon move out of the way in fear of their paintwork and side mirrors.

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After 15 km of forcing the gap open I was knackared, I signaled to the guy behind me on the Beemer to take the lead, he was game and lead the way for another 20 or so Kilometers, this traffic jam was about 40km long around Nice by the time we were free.

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Once the roads were free again we pulled off and stopped at a service station to rest where we met these guys.

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They are the Blue Knights, its a 20,000 member motorcycle club for retired police officers, these guys were from Scotland and were riding down to Croatia, we chatted about our experience in Croatia and one of the guys, Andy or Doug was his name, was from Moffat in Scotland where we had ridden through a couple of weeks ago, small World.

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A great chap, he gave Linda a little badge, our camera was having an off day again so the photo is blurred.

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We wished each other well with our respective trips and carried on along the coast to Italy.

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The views on the other side of the road were of  the Alps.

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Once in Italy we were very quickly on the way to Pisa.

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Once in Pisa though the signs for the tower dry up and after asking dozens of people we finally found it.

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Construction began on the tower in 1173 but because of a number of wars was not finally completed until 1372. the foundations were only 3 meters deep and on soft soil, the tower began leaning when construction reached the 3rd floor, to compensate for the lean the other floors were built off centre giving the tower a slight Banana shape. From 1990 until 2001 massive strengthening and lean correction work was undertaken, in 1990 the tower was leaning 6 degrees and in danger of toppling, today the lean has been corrected to only 4 degrees.

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After walking around the tower and cathedral, we waited for the police around the entrance to wander off and then quickly rode the bike across the entrance and posed for photos.

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Five minutes walk from this very spot is a campsite, a very expensive campsite at 25 Euros but this one had working showers. Since there was hot water here Linda took the opportunity to wash some of our rather dirty and smelly clothes, there are some advantages to taking a women along on a bike trip.

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As you can see, Linda used the Honda washing line method.

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This campsite also had a shop so food was easy today, we feated on cold chilli con carne and frankfurters with cake and yoghurt for afters.

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Later in the evening a small group of racing cyclists came and camped next to us, legs like tree trunks, we got chatting (They did not want to be photographed) and they were actually footballers, they play for some French or Dutch teams or other and they keep fit by cycling in the off  season, apparently this is the off season, quite why they don’t play football when the weathers nice seems odd, why do they wait until its cold and wet,  seems very strange.

They had a van, a driver/cook, a navigator, mobile internet and laptops, GPS this and that, and they still asked to borrow our map, everyone has dificulty in Italy !!  Michal was one of the names I can remember, we chatted with them for a couple of hours, it was great, they had more hair and skin cream products than any women I have known,  you just never know who your going to meet on the road. Our plan for tomorrow is to just blast down the motorway to Rome early in the morning.

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~ by travelswithmymotorbike on June 13, 2009.

18 Responses to “DAY 35 – TRAFFIC JAMS and PISA”

  1. A very pleasant read…I rode from Nice to Monte Carlo…It’s a short ride in 1994 on “Le Blvd Des Anglais” that’s the scenic route and man that to me was such a spectacular and scenic ride..I’ve enjoyed this read very much as it brought back pleasant memories. thanks so much for sharing

    • Hi Berge,

      Yes that whole section of road along the Cote d’ Azure is really pretty, the Alps one side and the Med the other, what ever our next trip is we need two new cameras to better cature the beauty we see, our cheap old cameras keep having moodys and only work or focus when they want !

      Cheers

      Dave…

  2. ps:forgot to tell you I like the sense of humor used to describe the soccer players…sense style writing as David Niven..

    • Hi Berge,

      Cheers for that, but it really comes from ignorance, I know nothing of pop music, sports and celebraties….

  3. You heard about about the Tour de France for convicts? Sounds like you were camping next to them….

    • Hi Nikos,

      Lol…..we did actualy talk about performance drugs with them, I will not say what they addmited too or not lol…

  4. Very nice ride you dude, jesus bless you for yours deeds,
    bye Michael..

    • Hi Michael,

      Glad you enjoyed it, thanks for the kind words.

      Cheers

      Dave…

  5. Great pics of the old tower there Dave, bet you enjoyed cutting down the middle.

    Stan

    • I did at first, a real buzz, but after half an hour or so I was knackard !!

      Cheers

      Dave..

  6. That looks a great feast, its making my mouth water, good pics as always mate.

    j

  7. Hi Dave, next month I’ll be taking my Transalp on the ferry to Santander, Spain across the Italian Dolomites, and over the Alps back up to London. Your blog is really whetting my appetite – thanks for taking the time to do it. I’m looking at the traffic you experienced near Nice and was wondering whether you think it’s feasible that I could do Limoux (south west of Toulouse) to a campsite just north of Nice in one day – given it’ll be August and pretty hot. It’s about 320 miles. With side panniers the Alp’s as wide as yours (http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3354/3564516854_10a997cd54.jpg). I’m hoping to average 40 mph and do it in 10 hours with a couple of breaks – realistic? Thanks for any tips! Jason

    • Hi Jason,

      Toulouse to Nice in 10 hours?

      Easily mate, I think its a time of day thing though, we encountered stationary traffice twice in that area along your route. the first monster traffice jam was exiting Orange heading North up to Avignon and Lyon evening time. The motorway in this area was wide though and bikers were just zooming up the hard shoulder.

      The second large jam was East and West of Nice, the motorway was narrower, 2 lanes and mostly no hard shoulder, cutting up the middle was hard work. I think we were in this area in the early afternoon. The section fro Montpellier to Aries was bloody windy when we were there, a strong side wind from the sea.

      From what I remember of the area 10 hours seams realistic, we stop quite often, at least hourly some times 3 times in 2 hours (fag breakes,photos, moaning wife lol). Since your camping, pay in advance, keep your passport and set off early at 6am, that way you could easliy cover 150 miles blasting along untill 8am of your 320 miles before the holiday traffic builds up, it was a busy crowded road at the end of May……so August!!!…take water and a picnic lol…

      Cheers

      Dave..

  8. Sorry, I think the brackets around the Flickr link corrupted it: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3354/3564516854_10a997cd54.jpg

    • Hi Jason,

      I like the taller windscreen, your not piled high like I was lol, with sleeping bags etc on top of the topbox, any side wind will not be much bother for you.

      Have a great trip mate,

      Cheers

      Dave..

      • Cheers Dave (and for the ‘Nice’ advice in the one above). Appreciate there’s two of you so you need to load up – I tried adding the Givi 52l top box on a trip last year and have to say some of the windy spots (tall ‘super’ bridges and flat, open country) made for pretty interesting riding! All the best, Jason.

        • Hi Jason,

          Yeah, its amazing how a topbox gives the wind so much more ‘leverage’ on the bike…but as you say, makes for interesting riding lol..

          Cheers and happy trip !!

          Dave..

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