After all the planning it nearly didn’t happen. Less than 24 hours before we were due to leave the UK for Turin, our van dropped its clutch and various other essential parts all over the road. Even a mechanic mate willing to work on it overnight couldn’t get parts until the following Monday.
If I’m honest, I’d already started to look at alternate places for a week’s riding when a late night text had the news I so wanted: another favour called in and we had another van. It was older, couldn’t make it above 60, and didn’t have air conditioning… but our Torino Nice rally was back on.
The Torino-Nice Rally is a bikepacking, touring or randonneur event - a ride that has a bit of most things except technical difficulty (in the mountain biking sense).It's not a race, just a challenge to finish.
Torino Nice Website
The night before the start we had a chance to meet other riders and eat some dinner in lovely little square in central Turin. This opportunity is generally used to look at everyone else’s bikes. Adventure bikes are always the more interesting bikes to look at, especially when loaded up ready for a big ride. Talking of bikes, mine was almost brand new, a titanium Sonder Camino bought and built for adventure. One guy I spoke to was here for his second year and described the first climb, Colle del Colombardo by smashing his fist into his palm. This was going to be tough.
It was a good night sleep apart from being woken by what we each of us individually thought was someone stood right over us shining a torch at us. Turned out it was the moon.
Six ciabattas and 12 Cokes in Limone Piemonte and we were re-fuelled and ready for Col de Tende. It was atop here there was another route option, with this one there was no option for us, we knew we wanted to do the whole of Via Del Sale; we’d seen the photos.
This was the weakest I’d felt on the whole trip. With the rain dripping from my cap I was fighting to stay on the wheel of the group. I’m not sure they knew how much trouble I was in. I managed to get it together before we left the tarmac for gravel, briefly missing the turn-off before being pointed in the right direction by a sensible rider taking shelter under a small tin roof until morning. Back on the gravel road, the rain increased and the temperature dropped. Regular circulation of Haribo among the group kept the pedals turning. Looking back at the data, I stopped for a total of exactly 3 mins for the 2 hour 40 minute climb. This was for a brief chat with the fellow rider and for a change of clothing.