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Nice's vélo bleu goes on a trip - to the Himalayas!!

Noel Smara, 38, resident of Peillon (just inland of Monaco), ambulance worker and bike fanatic, has managed to travel 600km on one of Nice’s very own blue bikes reaching a summit of 5, 602m!

Veolia, who sponsor the velo bleu initiative gave Noel a normal velo bleu, he added only new pedals and a new seat to complete his journey. Weighing in at 18kg, with only 3 gears this was no easy feat!

Noel reported that his colleagues told him his idea was impossible to fulfill but his determination drove him to complete the draining ride. He told Nice Matin “It was hard! I suffered most the first few days as I had to become acclimatised. At 4500m I was ill with headaches and vomiting. Normally I would have succumbed to the conditions but I continued. The first day I rode 70km, which was the most difficult part. Luckily I was helped by a Sherpa named Tapa who transported my belongings in a 4x4, carried my tent and prepared my evening meals for me.”

He has many memories and stories to tell, but re-tells how one of his favourite memories is of being welcomed in Leh where he was often invited to eat and drink tea with locals. Despite not being able to speak English and not being able to fully communicate with the locals he was welcomed with open arms and was well-liked by everyone, which is unsurprising after his accomplishment!

He went on to say “it’s amazing how many people I have met thanks to velo bleu! The other thing that hit me was the beautiful landscapes of the Himalayas, which gave me goosebumps.” However unforgettable moments are mixed with less happy memories “I suffered from a lack of oxygen. I was searching for air, I had an indicator which showed me the rate of oxygen in the air. When I was 78% along I found it in my bags. I could have had a heart attack or stroke! I also suffered difficult conditions such as cold nights and mornings where I washed myself in iced water from the rivers.


On top of this some days temperatures reached 30 degrees.”Moments of lonliness also took their toll “I missed having another person there to share the experience with and to communicate with. I should have stopped it all but I told myself to carry on because the whole world was waiting for me to do it!”When he arrived at Leh, Noel realised he wasn’t far from the hill of Khardung La – the highest road in the world. “I had to go there on the velo bleu, it took me 8 hours to climb the 40km and then 2 hours to come back down.After also visiting Pang Gan lake, the highest lake in the world, there was nothing left for Noel to do except to board a plane (along with his bike!) and fly back to France. Noel is now talking about riding from Nice to Beijing or Vietnam...all on a velo bleu of course!

We think it's a great idea for our clients to rent a Velo Bleu and discover the gorgeous areas of Nice for themselves. Have a cycle and look at the luxury apartments on Nice Promenade and then discover the bourgeois properties heading back from the Promenade - our favourite areas are the Carre d'Or and Musiciens areas for beautiful property, and then head down the cyle lane to Nice old town, also known as Vieux Nice, where it's best to stroll around! Enjoy