words to heartful action
Cycling and sustainable city life
In one of the last weeks of the year I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Hopeful New Year.
I don't know about you but during these years cycling saves my sanity and helps me to be of strong health during stressfull times. Cycling is such a unique way for us humans to move through landscapes in a way where we are connected to our physique, mental state, social ways and natural surroundings at the same time.
In the past years where Covid-19 has changed our daily living and ways to be in the world cycling has for many been an escape, a new hobby, a new sport and for a lot also an alternative way of transporting one-self from a-b instead of going by public transport. Cities have speeded up their transformation to becoming (more) cycling friendly and there is a lot going on in the world about cycling in general.
For instance the professional sport is becoming more inclusive with a strong movement in women cycling. From a female cyclist's standpoint this is about time! and I am happy to see how the current female cycling stars inspire girls to jump on the bike.
I am personally among the first waves of women in Europe who fell in love with cycling and adopted it as my sport in a world of men. I was part of a movement in Northern European countries (probably around the same time in the US) in the 2010s which now grows day by day. I am happy when I now go for a ride from Nice and meet more female riders out and about than when I first moved here in 2015.
We also have changes in the common purposes for why people cycle. When I entered the sport around 2009, normal amateur road bike riders measured each other's standards by how quick they could ride, how far and how many mountains they could conquer in one day.
Now normal has changed as cycling is so much more than about going the furthest, the quickest, while conquering a lot of mountains for the "check it off the list" sake or winning races. Billions of people use cycling as a way to travel and discover landscapes and societies in a movement of finding happiness by being slow and embracing people and nature.
Sustainable living and -traveling, good health and well-being, having fun on two wheels of many kinds and getting to know people by and while sharing this playful way of discovering land is why I started to guide and organise tours with Lifesparkz Bike Tours in 2016. I am grateful for sharing moments with kind and curious people from many backgrounds who have cycling as a common way of discovering.
Thank you to everyone of you who I cycled with in the past years or collaborate with to create cycling adventures for others. I am now excited to see what is in the box for us in 2022.
For me and Lifesparkz Bike Tours 2020 was about survival and staying sane! 2021 has been about patience. In 2022 I will be carefully hopeful that the World will stabilise in the new normal and that I again can welcome more of you from around our precious globe to cycle in Nice and the Alpes-Maritimes.
With warm wishes of safe and happy holidays.
Owner of Lifesparkz Bike Tours, December 2021
Distance: Loop: Nice, Aspremont, Correns, Nice - 50km
Climb: 840m+ (Col de Châteauneuf-Vielleville 630 m+)
Main routes: M114, M719, M815, D15
Close to: Duranus, Aspremont, Tourette-Levens, Levens, Correns
Level of difficulty: Moderate
Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Col de Chateauneuf de Contes is one of the many climbs in the Alpes-Maritimes near Nice that is known by locals but often don't make it to the cycling tour books.
If you ever participated in the Nice-Paris Challenge, you have passed this shorter climb as it has so far been an integral part of the Spring cyclosportive.
You can easily integrate the climb into a longer route. You can do the climb from both the Eastern and Western side. We suggest here a shorter loop from Nice, taking you through Aspremont village, climbing from the Eastern side and going back via the low land North-East of Nice.
Nice - Aspremont - Tourette-Levens
Aspremont and Tourette-Levens are villages located in the lower mountains only 10 km North of Nice. One way to get there is described here. You can also cycle to Aspremont from the center of Nice via M114 the areas Cimiez and Rimiez, where you quickly rise above Nice and get some nice views over the town and towards the sea. It is a steady climb to Aspremont, which is around 520 m above sea level. It is a nice place to stop for a coffee and a view towards the Var valley.
In Aspremont, you make a turn on the road towards Tourette-Levens.
Tourette-Levens - Chateauneuf-Vielleville
You get a nice and beautiful descent from Aspremont to Tourette-Levens. You will see road signs that you are on the Routes des Bréa.
Routes des Bréa refers to touristique roads in the backcounty of Nice where you find historic sites of the "School of primitiv Nicois" in mainly chapels and churches that dates back to the 15th and 16th centuries.
In Tourette-Levens you turn left towards Levens. Shortly after you reach a round-about from where the climb to Chateauneuf-Vielleville starts.
Col de Chateauneuf climb from the East
The main climb to Col de Chateauneuf is a relatively easy climb when you do it from the Eastern side; rather short, only about 5 km, and with the main sections of real climbing in the first 3 before the road flattens out as you approach the pass below Chateauneuf-Vielleville. Gradients are 4,5% in average and with a maximum of 8%.
You rise above the green valleys to the peak that is marked by a big iron cross. You can pause and say a little prayer, because the real challenge is the downhill!
Bike n'Roll to Contes
If you recently started cycling in mountains this descent is a great challenge to practise your technique on the downhill full of sharp hairpin bends. It is easy to gain speed, however daredevils watch out, as it is easy to become too confident on your skills for turning, especially if the conditions are a bit to the moist side. We have witnessed cyclists happily racing passed us one minute, just to find them a few seconds later lying by the road side as they miscalculated the road and slid in a turn.
When you reach Contes, make a right turn in the main crossing towards Nice.
The main roads back to Nice are quite busy, so we recommend cycling on this section out of rush hours or on a Sunday where there is less traffic.
It can be easiest to find you way if you keep to the right side of the Paillon river, but you can follow roads on both side of it. Be aware of an intersection, where it is tempting to follow the major road with the sign towards Nice - this is not a cycling road! But you can either follow a cycling track on the right side of the river - and follow it as it crosses the river and reach D2204 on the left river bank. Or follow the minor road D2204 on the left side of the river already from the round-about close to La Pointe.
Happy Cycling! :)
Owner of Lifesparkz Bike Tours.
Distance: Loop of Nice - Vence - La Colle sur Loup - Cagnes-sur-Mer - Nice / 72 km
Climb: 800 m+
Main routes: M118, M/D2210 and D6
Close to: Col de Vence, Gourdon, Gattières
Level of difficulty: Easy - Moderate
Season: All year around
A loop that will take you through charming villages, wide curving roads in good conditions and magnificent views to the Alps and the ocean.
As soon as you have passed Nice airport and crossed the Var, you ride in to St-Laurent-du-Var and start a shorter climb from the sea level and up to 300 meter. You can cycle through St-Laurent-du-Var town and find the road towards La Gaude, which offers a steady climb with moderate gradients between 2-6% in average.
At the bottom of the village St-Jeannet you can have a coffee break at the big cycling friendly café Auberge des 4 chemins.
In the round-about at St.-Jeannet you follow the road towards Vence. The majestic rock formation North of Vence rises above you as you cruise the main road that curls through the lower mountain side.
The hills are green even in Winter and the sea view never bores the eyes.
You pass through Vence - if you are up for a challenge, you can take a trip up to Col de Vence at 900m. However, you can also simply cycle through Vence and continue of the false flat road section to Tourettes-sur-Loup, which is another super picturesque village of the Côte d'Azur. When you come to the other side, look out for some nice photo opportunities!
You have now a long nice descent in front of you on a an easy downhill. It is easy to speed on this downhill, so be aware of traffic!
At an intersection where you see the road towards Gourdon and the Caussols Plateau you make a left turn to Nice. You will soon ride on the left side the Loup river. In Summer it is pleasantly cool on this road - in Winters you get a chill wind in your face. There always seems to be more wind in this valley than on the other roads.
Make your way towards La Colle-sur-Loup and continue to Cagnes-sur-Mer. Soon you are at the sea front making your way back to Nizza la bella.
Distance: Nice - Bouyon / return 75 km
Climb: 830 m+
Main routes: D1
Close to: Col de Vence, l'Ésteron Valley, Gilette
Level of difficulty: Moderate
Season: All year around
The villages on the Western bank of the Var river hold witness of thousands of years of history. You reach them by cycling out of Nice towards St-Laurent-du-Var, pass through St-Laurent-du-Var either via the town or via the main road along the river. To reach the level of the villages, you climb either to la Gaude or Gattières from where you follow the D2209 and D1 roads.
Carros village is the first hill top settlement that you come through. If you stop and have a look around the old houses you may find the bench made out of stone with Roman inscriptions in it. Carros used to be on the border of France and a part of the Département Var until Nice and Menton became French in 1860 and the Département Alpes-Maritimes was established.
We also recommend a lunch in charming Crêperie du Moment with salty and sweet pancake meals on the menu:
The next village that you come to is Le Broc. Le Broc is a small yet as charming with old rustic houses. At the level of the flat plateau below the village you see the characteristic Broc lake with blue water. It is an artificial lake now used as a recreational area.
You can make a return and go back to the coast by the same road that you came, descent to the low land in Broc and catch a cycling lane following the river back - or continue a bit further via the main road D1 to Bouyon.
Climbing further up the main road from Le Broc you get stunning views to the confluence of the Var and the Estéron rivers. The last section to Bouyon is a bit of a climb, so it is nice to have the grant view to distract you as you push pedals.
Bouyon is a gateway to the Estéron riverdale and the Vence back country plateau. A small medieval village in absolute calm and surrounded by beauty which would make a nice spot for a weekend break-away.
From Bouyon you can return to Nice. Mind the technical descent with bending roads and turns that are sharper than you think! Another option is to do a circuit either around the Estéron gorge and go back via Gilette and the river dale. You can also do a circuit by cycling to Coursegoules and back via Col de Vence and Vence.
The many options for routes is what makes les Alpes-Maritimes a true cycling paradise. There is always a new road to discover!
Owner of Lifesparkz Bike Tours
Tina Baltzer, owner of Lifesparkz Bike Tours.