I’ve overcome the biggest hurdle and have zeroed in on my 2019 Biking France Blog plans: The French Riviera (knock on wood) is in. About 20 days in mid to late September. And then, maybe, on to Paris to meet Susan and over to Strasbourg to bike the Alsace (which Susan said she prefers over the Dordogne, which we did back in 1997).
The biggest hurdle was and always is renting a bike. Here’s why…
It’s easy to rent a high-end road bike, a hybrid, mountain bike or eBike. They’re everywhere. But: A nice road bike with a rack for panniers? Well, that’s tough. I lucked out last year in Bordeaux with a great all-carbon Cube with a rack from O2Cycles. If they can figure out a way to get a rack on an all-carbon frame that doesn’t have the built-in lugs, why can’t other places? It’s not that hard. Or is it?
I checked out Holiday Bikes in Nice, which rents two road bikes: the KTM Strada and KTM Revelator. I’ve never heard of KTM bikes, but they looked like nice enough for all the cols and climbing I’ll be doing. I emailed and asked if they could attach a rack to either of these bikes.
I heard back: “Yes you can rent a KTM Life ride with a rack on the back for your trip.”
I emailed them back: “The KTM Life is a hybrid and not a road bike. I require a road bike with a rack, as I’ll be loading panniers and also doing day trips that will include the Col de la Madone and Col de Vence and the Gorge Verdon.”
Here was their reply: “We can’t fix some rack on road bike.”
Uh-oh; I’m running out of bike-rental options. I kept searching and found France Bike Rentals SAS which rents several different road bikes from several locations, including Bedoin at the base of Mont Ventoux. I know that shop! That’s a good sign, let’s email them, cross my fingers and…
I heard back: “Hi Steve, Thank you for your request. Actually we can not fit racks and panniers on road bikes…”
Me: “Damn, I’m screwed.”
Them: “…but only Apidura handlebar & saddle bags if you travel ‘light’ (75E extra for a full set). Otherwise I suggest you opt for the Trek 520 Disc on which you can easily carry a pair of panniers (complimentary).
Me (to myself): “Yes! That will work. The Trek 520 has a steel frame and three chainrings. It’s not ideal, but good enough.”
And then I had a brainstorm: I can rent a higher-end bike from FBR, maybe the Pinarello Prince (a super-high-end and expensive bike I’ve always wanted to ride), for the three or four days I’ll be in Nice at the start of my trip. It will be fun to ride such a fast bike on the big climbs up the famous Col de la Madone and Col de Vence. And then I can swap it out for the Trek 520 when it’s time to load up and head off to my next stop. Most of my hard climbs will be on day trips from base towns, which means I won’t be carrying all my stuff.
This will work. I’m in.
In my next post: The details of my French Riviera route, town by town, ride by ride.