11-12 September – Brokebike mountain

Just 70km to bogliasco 11 sept
And 42km to Vignolo 12 Sept

6232km of cycling so far

Anyone reading this who follows my thirsty cyclist Facebook page or twitter feed will know this blog is about an accident. I have put off writing it while I collect my thoughts. I remember avoiding looking at my bank balance when I was a student. And this is a bit like that! But it may have a happy ending…

Wednesday 11th started slowly. I decided to have my first swim in Italian waters. The campsite at Savona was on the beach, and it felt good to be in the Sea, although the water, unlike the rest of the coast I had seen, was not clear. After the swim, I left the campsite late because I needed to send emails regarding the sale of my flat. I covered just 70km and feeling weak as in the last few days I just hadn’t eaten enough. I stopped at a supermarket to stock up. Then I found another great bike path where a cyclist called Gabriel told me “Genoa is where beautiful ends”. He was right. So I ploughed through the ugly busy chaotic city and came out the other side, back to the coastal road, and it was immediately much prettier, but getting steadily hillier. As it got dark I went up a steep 1.5km climb to reach the campsite at Bogliasco. I filled up with a big pizza to try to claw back some calories.

In the morning, I posted the proposed route on facebook, a 200km ride with some monster hills to Modena. I had a feeling I wouldn’t make it. Unfortunately I was right and not in the way I had expected.
I followed the coast for a further 40km before heading inland at Chiavari and followed the river.

At a tight junction I was on a bridge turning left onto a curving road and a white car in front of me wanted to turn right onto the bridge. A black car roared around the corner. I waited for the car to pass and looking at the white car, I started moving forward but I didn’t see the second car which followed the black car ….smash! The bike flew to the right and I hit the ground. It was so quick that I could do nothing. I looked up to see a car stopping with a broken wing mirror.

The bag on the front left of my wheel had taken the force of the blow, and the front of the bike was bent and the handlebars had gone 90 degrees round. I was ok. Not a scratch (although later I realise I had sprained my right wrist).

The front wheel was clearly broken. All the spokes were there intact but the wheel was cracked and no way could I repair it. Also it was so bent that Silver would no longer roll. I picked her up and put her to one side of the road. Initially the driver, an elderly Italian was stressed and angry. He spoke no English and I spoke no Italian except “Mi Scusi” (excuse me). After calling his daughter, I was eventually surrounded by more people I couldn’t talk to.
The family were ok. I eventually understood they said they would pay for their damage and I would pay for mine. I expect they knew that the old man was driving too fast around that corner and the fault would be at least 50-50, and my damage was worse than his. We laughed a little about the language issue … they said “No capisce niete” (which wasn’t true because I understood that) and they pointed to ask me what I was doing and when i told them where I had been they were amazed and when I said “tutti di mundo”, they patted my back and we laughed as I pointed at the smashed up bike and shrugged. They called a taxi to take me to a bike shop at Lavagna, which was back near Chiavari.

Sadly the old guy at the bike shop couldn’t help me. He pointed out that the wheel could be replaced but the front fork was bent out of shape and my bike was too different from the bikes they have in Italy. They offered me other bikes and I said I might buy one but I needed to find out if I could repair Silver first. The taxi driver took me to a budget hotel where I took some time to think and call people. I called Popiel cycles in England, where I had bought Silver, and Wojtek, the owner said he would get a new wheel and fork sent over for me, but it would take 5 days. It turned out it would be 11 or 12 because Koga were very busy at a big exhibition and couldn’t send it until the next Wednesday.

I planned to get another bike and keep going but eventually I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t risk missing my brother’s wedding and so I would leave everything and go by train to Vienna. After my brother’s wedding I will come back, fix the bike and carry on from Lavagna. That way I will have continuity in my trip. It’s disappointing to be leaving the bike and getting on a train but I will KBO as Winston Churchill said. (Keep Buggering on…. Go to Vienna, attend Wedding, sell flat, Go back to Italy, fix bike, cycle around world)

And here’s the happy ending to this blog. I may be able to see Paola again. She is planning on going to Switzerland, so I think I could find a way to meet up en-route to Vienna. She may even come to the wedding. Quite a silver lining.

It looks like this blog is on hold until the end of September now but keep following www.facebook.com/thirstycyclist

And don’t forget you can sponsor me at www.justgiving.com/Ed-sutton or by going to the “donate here” page on this site.