France - Provence and Cote d'Azur (September 26th - October 1st, 2010)(continued)
On leaving the City, you have to cycle up about 1,000' in a short period of time but the road switches back upon itself so it's not unbearably steep. I would have enjoyed the ride up if not for the wind which was close to blowing me into the traffic on a few occasions. As usual, the climb led to a nice view of Marseilles, from east of the City.
Having gone over 2,500 km without a flat I suddenly find myself caught without adequate tires. I used my spare tire on the front and the rear also needs replacing. The weight of the panniers is causing the tires to wear at least twice as fast as they would normally. My rear inner tube also has a slow leak and I only have a single inner tube left. The stores are not open Sunday so my mission on Monday is to get 2 tires (one for the rear and a new spare) and 2 new inner tubes. I managed to cycle Sunday on the slow leak by stopping every hour to pump air in but it does make the fast descents a little nervous when you know your rear tire has a small hole.
My destination for Sunday was the town of Cassis as they have a nice campground. It is well known in France because of the excellent mountain climbing and hiking. The Arizona like scenery includes spectacular mountains on the edge of the Mediterranean. It must be quite a thrill to climb up those walls, but I'll leave that for others. I prefer to have feet on or close to the earth.
The coast from Toulon to Nice is known as the Cote d'Azur and is a series of small villages and towns separated by mountains. There is a major highway that runs along the coast and thankfully I was able to follow bike paths for a good majority of the route. The roads can be quite steep as you enter and leave the towns but the scenery the entire way was hard to ignore. The bike paths along the coast are numerous and a nice change from the roads.
These were often interrupted as you left the towns where you would re-join a road that led up into the mountains and then back down into the next town. The major highway following the coast was further up the mountain so the cycling roads tend to be between the sea and the major highways, which kept traffic down and made the climbs up out of the villages manageable. Here is a typical view of a small village on the way up and out of town.