A MAMIL’s first trip to Europe

A few years back I bought my wife and myself flat bar road bikes for ‘her’ birthday present. I knew after a couple of rides on Beach road that I should’ve gone with a roadie so only one month later I had sold the flat bar and had purchased my first (of many) road bike. Overnight I had turned into a MAMIL.In 2011 I signed up for a 12 day, 1,100km cycling trip from Lake Como in northern Italy down to Nice in France via 10 big climbs of the French Alps including Galibier, Alp d’ Huez and Col de la Bonnette that is the highest road pass in Europe.

As a big bloke over 100kg I knew it was going to be tough given my size and my fairly light training schedule in the lead up. To make matters worse, the night before I was to fly out of Australia bound for Milan I had severe gastro and was still vomiting in the car all the way to the airport the next day.

Luckily I started to come good at the airport but two days later I found myself dying in the blazing heat attempting to get up the 20km climb of Simplon Pass in Switzerland. This day would’ve been the hardest day on the bike I can ever remember and there were many moments when I thought about throwing in the towel on just the 2nd day! Lucky for me I found a café about 5km from the summit and had a massive glass of the ol’ black doctor ( coke ) and managed to get over the top. From that day on the climbs never got much easier but is still one of the most memorable trips I have been on.

Nothing beats riding in Europe. Yes it is a long way to go but riding is different over there. There is a culture, and a deep respect for the sport of cycling and cyclists on the road. The food is amazing and cheap, coffee is great in Italy (but ordinary in France – stick to black coffee – cafe noir). Oh and the scenery is pretty amazing.

About the author: rideitoff