OK, we finally arrived in Nice to live for 3 years. The boss, and the next boss up, both kept giving instructions on how to get a car, and I kept insisting that we  were not going to get one. How will you get to work then? Well, this is Europe, so of course going car free and using a bike will be easy, I kept telling them. I'd heard a podcast of a guy who lives in Los Angeles and even then, went car free. Needless to say, this was putting my complete lack of knowledge against their  local knowledge.
At the airport, we were given a hire car. Hitting the first roundabout, I started to panic. Going around the wrong way, on
the wrong side, and picking an exit was tough. The roads are significantly skinnier. Where can you fit a bike on the road? Where are the bikes, by the way, around here? This is supposed to be Euro-fantasy land, come on!
It was about 500m to the hotel, but it took about 30 minutes to drive going on the wrong exits twice etc, following my boss, who is French. There is a fantastic bike track running along the waterfront. This is great for tourists and day trippers. My work place was inland high on a hill, and we were going to stay in Antibes, where the seaside track disappears.
Then I started to see them. The helmetless(!) old(!!) ladies (indicator species no less on the busy local roads going as slow as you like!), and finally thought, I'll have to be brave and try it out. I got a folder from Decathlon for 300 euro, chucked it in the back of the hire car, and drove back to the airport to drop it off. I unfolded it, and rode away in triumph, to the nearest roundabout, realising I had no idea, and did not want to mix it on roads that looked much like Sydney airport's internal ones. I chanced on a  couple of cyclists, and tried out some rusty French for instructions on how to get out. They turned out to be American, and they told me to get some balls, and get in amoungst it. So I did. And they didn't honk, tail gate or rev their engines at me. I felt like a citizen on the road for the first time. The exit lead onto the main bike path along the waterfront. Later on the train, I folded it up out of the way. One lady said "C'est magique!", and I felt the same. I must have lloked like a trained monkey, cycling uphill on that thing, after the train. It took the same amount of time as the bus, minus walking to the stops and waiting.

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Comment by PeterT on October 22, 2011 at 2:51pm

I chanced on a  couple of cyclists, and tried out some rusty French for instructions on how to get out. They turned out to be American, and they told me to get some balls, and get in amoungst it. So I did.

No no no - that was actually your cue to break out in song -

"I come from the land down-under...

where bogans honk and drive over...

doorzones -a-perpetual.

and headlids needed all summer..."

 

...OK, I give up, where's SUS when you need him ?

Comment by Neil Alexander on October 24, 2011 at 9:37am

Surely you could tell that those guys were Americans? They would have been wearing helmets! So much for having balls!!

Great story. Good luck with staying car-free. At least there is a good train system around Nice and cycling outside the built-up area is sublime.

Comment by Ma Dame Vélo on October 24, 2011 at 10:59am

Great story Edward.  I am sure you will grow to enjoy it - especailly as your balls develop.... :-)

My experience in London (even when we accidentally ended up cycling around Trafalgar Square in afternoon peak hour :-P) was that the drivers were virtually all extremely un-aggressive. 

The only time a driver cut me off, was when we were cycling near the embassies and he was a middle eastern guy, looked like he was the chauffeur to an ambassador or something.

The only real nastiness I witnessed was the cyclists telling off the drivers and bus drivers.  We looked on, embarrassed and aghast at how picky the cyclists were in telling off the motorists for even their slightest error.  Realised how being downtrodden and lowest in the pecking order has given us an inferiority complex.

 

Enjoy the three years.  What a great opportunity to be able to do that in your life.  :-)

Comment by Edward Re on October 25, 2011 at 5:40am

My balls are slowly getting stronger! The drivers are 99% very nice (much better than our land down under). The rides around Nice are very nice, and riders a bit more relaxed than London sounds.

Sadly, I still wear a helmet with a mirror AND fluro. I get some funny looks.

I'll post more soon.

Comment by AdamM on October 25, 2011 at 6:10am
Welcome to civilization (and not just cyclIng)! Now you can even buy cheese made from unpasteurised milk!
Comment by Edward Re on October 25, 2011 at 6:40am
The cheese is fantastic. We've been eating heaps, and drinking heaps too, as the wine's not bad either! Up until a week ago, there was 250ml bottles of wine for lunch, next to the bottled water, at work. The new office is dry, good for productivity, but just plain not French at all.
Comment by AdamM on October 25, 2011 at 6:45am
LOL, you're right, that's not French! French trains used to be designed with a wine bottle holder in the train driver's cab!
Comment by AdamM on October 25, 2011 at 6:57am
Oh, and if you don't already, that's an amazing part if the world to ride a mountain bike as well as having the road riding of the Alps and Pyrenees 'just there'.
Comment by Edward Re on October 25, 2011 at 7:03am
It's a shame to waste such nice mountains, but no I don't have a mountain bike, and my wife is currently sitting beside me saying you're not getting one! :)
Comment by AdamM on October 25, 2011 at 7:28am
I suspect that leaving 'n+1' notes scattered around the house might not help?

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