Many of the rides we did I (Tracey) had worked out on our stay at Pigna 3 years ago, and had hazy memories of them, especially as regards how long it would take to do anything. I remembered the rides as taking about a morning, but mornings must have been longer in those days.
Sun 7 Sept: BaiardoPerinaldo ride (51km, 1330m ascent)
We took the road up past Castel Vittorio and upwards over into the Bonda valley. It is a very quiet road, past some olive farms and forest. For all that it seemed to be only 10km as the crow flies, it took ages and ages to reach Baiardo, by which time it was elevenses. Fortunately Bairdo is well supplied with eateries including a nice cafe on the main square with some good savoury snacks. From here, we took a double track on the W side of monte Bignone, which was quite rough enough. Near the Colle di Termini theres a fork right from the double track which we tried, but its hopeless uphill only try this in the other direction. From the pass, we went down the road towards Perinaldo and theres a track leading off to the left a little way down. It is up for a little bit then there is an unrideable massively rutted descent to a ruined chapel, then from here there is a lovely stretch of singletrack. Later it descends some pretty difficult rounded bouldery sections. We were late getting to Perinaldo but had the luck to find a good restaurant. Then took the road back via Apricale. We got lost going out of Perinaldo, its a losing yourself sort of place. This happened to me last time too.
This was by far the best ride we did in this area. We rode up from the house which is by the Madonna di Campagna chapel, to the top of the pass Muratone; after the last houses a few km beyond the chapel it is a dirt/gravel road. Then we took the path down towards Pigna. It is excellent varied single track, starting in woods, followed by a lovely open section with views over to endless forested ridges. It is sustained fairly technical, getting more bouldery as you descend towards the bridge Ponte Baussou.
Tues 9: The day we did 5·9 km (6km, 230m)
The Pigna trekking/mtb map shows a path down from the Gola di Gouta which crosses the road up from the Madonna di Campagna. We just rode up to the crossing point and tried following the path. It is waymarked but in a terrible state of repair, a bouldery path very overgrown and with many stones missing. There was one sublime sharp steep double-bend in good repair that Colin could do. We gave up eventually and as soon as we crossed a double-track took that in the Pigna direction but it doubled back and took us back to the chapel. This was all of 5·96km.
Weds 10: Anello di M. Vetta (21km, 830m)
This was another ride from the Pigna map, which Id done 3 years ago. To do it you have a long climb up to Colla Langan. When I did it before, this road was blocked by a motor-car race and Id pushed the bike all the way up the roughstuff on order to ride down it. This time the obstacle was youve guessed a strada chiusa, frana. The frana was a few km up the road and this time it was a very convincing one half the road had been swept away. It was no problem for us as there was plenty of room for bikes and in truth there were a few cars getting through. We rode up through a wonderful landscape of mysterious hills cloaked in forest on what was thanks to the frana, a very quiet road. From the pass we headed westwards towards M Torragio in its terrifying glory. Northwards there are views of the big west-east ridge, inviting us to plan another trip.
The weather hadnt been all that great over the last couple of days and it had rained a little. We found the start of the path off the track towards the reservoir which splits left form the road; it is clearly marked Buggio. Its a little tricky to start descening woods on very rooty paths; the damp made this treacherous. Soon the path becomes very steep in sections and there are very technical bends. We didnt manage much of this, in the conditions, a pity, but it looked pretty hard. The steepness eases off when the path crosses a small stream, and theres an extended section which isnt hard but has a few nice obstacles, its a pleasant ride. Something to beware of is the 2" death-pipe that follows the path in some sections. It you try to cross this at an angle you find it remarkably slippery.
When there were gaps in the trees, Mt Torragio was visible and ever more impressive. It was dizzying to think wed been up there. The path steepens a little and there are some fun rocky sections; it was good to be able to ride these because it was a little drier here as it was more open. A challenging scree slope leads to the Madonna di Lausegno church.
The church path down to Buggio starts with some good bends but overall its a lot steeper and harder than the Madonna di
Passoscio path, and we didnt ride it all. The craziest thing of the day was when
we finally got to Buggio to find a road to the village entirely blocked by a road maintenance truck.
Fri 12: Baiardo M. Collettazzo (47km, 1240m)
Sat 13: Menton Nice (36km, 630m)
We drove to Menton, where wed hired the car, and rode to Nice to spend our last night on holiday. Although we tried to find minor roads theres too much traffic, much of it connecting Monaco with the autoroute.