Back in 2011, seven friends decided to ride from Monaco to St Tropez in aid of charity (and a diminishing waistline). Little did they anticipate the extent to which their idea would capture imaginations far and wide. By the following year His Serene Highness Albert II Sovereign Prince of Monaco had joined the training rides, the starting and finishing line had been reversed, and post-workout Champagne and oysters on Place d’Armes had inspired the name the Champagne and Oyster Cycling Club (COCC). Cut to 2017 and more than one hundred fellow riders had signed up for not only the charity ride, but the legendary after-party.
As we approach Sunday May 6th, the date for the 2018 edition of the St Tropez to Monaco Charity Bike Ride, here are eight reasons why you should ride with us:
A charity cause
All proceeds from the ride are donated to the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation to increase awareness of water safety and the risks of drowning and to help children to swim around the world. Over the last six years, more than €600,000 has been raised. Funds from 2017 were used towards a first aid and CPR training complex in Loumbila, Burkina Faso and funds raised this year will go towards the same cause.
All you need is your bike
… and a sense of humour. Rider’s commit to raise a minimum of €1000 in sponsorship as an entry fee. In return, COCC provides the kit (which is updated every year), mechanical backup, water and energy supplies, brunch half way, insurance, membership of the Monaco Cycling Club, one admission for the after-party, and a contribution to the charity.
COCC veterans will tell you that the most challenging point of the 140 kms course starts approximately 40 kms out of St Tropez. Known as the Corniche d’Esterel, the 25 kms between St Raphael and Théole-sur-Mer, may be one of the Riviera’s stunning stretches of ochre-hued coast but if you haven’t trained, this is where you’ll feel it most. So, as COCC organisers emphasise, training is key – although it’s never too late to start as many participants only start training once they sign up for the ride. If this is the case, the best preparation is TITS (time in the saddle).
Ask previous riders what the highlight of the event is and chances are they’ll reply with camaraderie (or the after-party, see below). In signing up for the ride you’ll join a group of people who return year after year for a fun day out with fun people, all supporting a very worthwhile cause.
Celebrity and pro-racers
Although a royal presence isn’t guaranteed every year, the ride is a favourite of professional cyclists and Formula 1 drivers. Names like Daniel Riccardo, Jensen Button, David Coulthard, Paul di Resta, Eddie Jordan and Mika Häkkinen are regular riders on the coastal course while riders such as Veronica Larsson and Tiffany Cromwell inspire with their professional cycling capabilities.
The pit stops
From a brunch stop after the bends of the Esterel, to pop-up massages and refreshments as you approach the finish line, the pit stops that offer a chance to refuel during the ride have become a true drawcard in themselves. While every year sees a different lineup of stops en route, there is one constant that has a loyal following: a cool pint (or two) waiting for riders at Ma Nolan’s, the Irish Bar on Nice port.
As you navigate the incline of the Basse Corniche after Ma Nolan’s out of Nice towards Monaco, what is foremost on most minds is the after-party. After sweeping down to the finish line at Stars’N’Bars, riders congregate at Slammer’s, on rue Suffren Reymond, for a massive street party celebration with a BBQ and live music. Expect an appearance from The Dobies and The Robbers, with Eddie Jordan on drums.
Taking full advantage of the May French and Monaco public holiday schedule, all riders are invited to a massive Monday recovery lunch at Anjuna Beach, Eze Bord de Mer. Last year’s inaugural lunch was a massive success and is turning the COCC ride into a memorable spring event in Monaco and the French Riviera.