Today  (18th August) was the first proper riding day of the tour. Geoff didn’t join us on the ride because KLM decided to keep his bike a little longer than they ought to have done.

Richard had planned a 100km ride with about 1400 VMs.  A nice gentle start one would think.  not.  Here is Richard, looking relaxed at the top of the first climb.

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George, for those of you who don’t know, is the South African Masters Champion for  cross country mountain bike. He will be attending the world champs in France in early September.  I figured as he was riding a mountain bike, it would slow him down to a followable pace. I figured wrong.

We dodged the beachfront traffic for about 20kms, and then at Sestri Levante we headed up into the hills , the first climb was consistent, and not to steep. The views of the forest and down to the sparkling sea were  simply beautiful, and with the exception of the odd nutty driver, traffic free.

Near the top through the village of Castello  it got very very steep.

The descent was rather bumpy, and George was grinning at the bottom. It was a perfect descent for a mountain bike, but for a road bike it was a tad rough. We eventually got back the beach at Levanto.

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We  began to climb what was in theory the final big climb of the day.  George and Richard battled for honours to the top, and I plodded a long at my 13 km/h. Just near the top a white van and a Smart collided, George and Richard saw the accident, no one was hurt, but it made us take the winding descent a little more cautiously.

Now we were hungry, but the only place open was an overpriced under-served spot on the beach at Deiva Marina. Pasta that was only memorable by its price. Richard took a swim.

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We then started what we thought would be a  quick 20 km spin along the beach road back to  Chiavara but we reached a tunnel that prohibited bike use. The friendly locals pointed us to another route, so off we went.

We climbed, and climbed, and climbed, up a beautiful gorge, under the autostrata and then up, up to the top of  the Passo del Bracco.  An extra beast of a climb that we hadn’t planned for.

Never mind. George and Richard waited for me at the top, and then we descended  the the SS1, the old Roman Via Aurelia back to Sestri Levante. Lovely road, in excellent condition. I managed to keep Richard and George in sight as we zig zagged down the hill. Awesome views of the azure blue sea, small villages with big churches too numerous to mention.

We then raced the vespas and the cars back along the beach road.

So, day one 115 kms, average Hr 132, max  HR 179, ascent 210o, total Kcals. 4178.

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