"Go Nice places, Ride nice things." - Andrew P
Andrew got in touch with us after riding the Torino Nice Rally on his Camino Ti. Here's his tale:
Full disclosure, 2018 has been a tough year personally. I needed to escape but the adventure I yearned for was out of my reach, with only a road bike (with 30mm clearance) in my possession. Step in Alpkit, step in the excellent Sonder Camino ti – a more than capable steed of handling the terrain of the Italian / French Alps. The ride, Torino Nice Rally (TNR), in its third edition is a 700km self-supported ride on a mixture of high alpine gravel passes (Strada del'Assietta, Via del Sale, Col de Turini (let’s not talk about this one!) and famous road Col’s (think Finestre, Izoard, Agnel). The Camino ti, with WTB Byway 650 x 47mm tyres, enabled a journey of discovery in many aspects (emotionally, physically, socially and geographically). The bike also offered the best of both worlds. It handled everything off-road (soaking up every bump), whilst it ascended and descended road Col’s quickly with finesse and comfort (even whilst heavily loaded with an unfit cyclist and probably definitely too much kit – fun fact, my friend’s bike with kit weighed around 30kg!!!).
The world of bike packing is full of choices and there is no wrong choice but there will be compromises. For instance (this will be obvious for the experienced), the rider using a steel road bike with 30mm tyres is going to suffer and have punctures on gravel, whilst the rider with a MTB is going to be pretty slow on the asphalt climbs).
Back to the ride. TNR is not a race but it is physically demanding. 20,000 metres of climbing over 700km is not to be underestimated. It is a ride that necessitates you to sit, spin and grin(d). The immersion in such incredible scenery, accompanied by fantastic and inclusive camaraderie, left me encapsulated in a weird bubble, one of gravel-induced pain, yet one of complete enjoyment and freedom. A bubble that was savoured and takes a long time to fully process.
Along the way, I had the fortune of meeting some genuinely amazing folk. No egos, no idiots. Sustenance, bivvy spots, stories and plenty of miles were all shared without any judgement or one-upmanship. I urge anyone interested to explore the route in your own time, there’s no need to wait until September 2019. If Italy/France is too far, why not get a paper map (Hint: know your map legends and go explore the unknown.) The beauty of this type of riding is that you can use (almost) any bike.
Back to reality now, but TNR lives long in the memory. In fact, for many, it is only the beginning. TNR is starting to leave a legacy, as it is inspiring riders to transfer the free, DIY, self-supported philosophy of the ride to explore new horizons in the UK
Gravel riding is certainly trendy / trending but there’s a good reason for this, it is unlike anything else and allows you to fully experience the landscape rather than whistle past on a road bike. The pace gives you no choice, no respite but to sit in the saddle, spin (if you have kind gears) and be fully immersed into the landscape. Next stop for me is to explore some green lanes, in particular Lake District hill passes like Gatesgarth Pass.
- Andrew P
Thank you, Andrew, for sending this across and getting us all alpine dreamin'!