Lavagna to Santa Maria Del Taro. 36km
…. To a field near Piacenza 83.5km
Then 122km to Mantua.
6473.5 km so far. Still in Italy…
Just 36 km on the first day but I don’t really care. It was all uphill and I left Lavagna very late. All that matters is that I’m back in the saddle, and on the way from the west of Italy towards Slovenia.
The plan is to head down that coast to Greece and then cross from Athens to Africa.
So a quick catch up on what’s been happening….
Nearly a month ago, on 12 September the bike got broke when I tested it to see how well it would survive being hit by a car. Not very well as it turned out. the front fork was bent and the wheel was cracked. My friend at Popiel cycles in London only charged me the cost of of the parts but they needed to be sent from Holland and it would take too long to get to my brother’s wedding in Vienna.
Making the most of a bad situation I visited friends in Modena, Davide and Laura, and visited Ferrari museum and the maserati factory.
Then I went to Lucerne, Switzerland where I was reunited with my girlfriend Paola. After visiting Berne, and Zurich we had a week in Vienna including my brother’s wedding, which was beautiful. I also can now say I am going to be an uncle so good news all round.
Congratulations Rob and Flora!!!
Then as the parts were still not sent, Paola and I took the night train to Venice for a couple of days. Venezia was amazing, and easily the most romantic city I have ever been to. Possibly because it’s like another world but also because we were both so excited to be there. The place we stayed in was a great spot over the other side of the canal from St Mark’s square. Not too crowded and lovely to walk around or catch the vaporetto (the water bus). Great city but Crap for bikes of course!
After a night in Milan My brother’s friends, (and now mine), Beppe and Daniela, it was back to Lavagna and the parts had arrived. We went for dinner with my friends Stefano and Oscar. (I had met Stefano in a bar in Lavagna on the night after I crashed my bike).
In the morning I said goodbye to Paola again. It was even harder than last time as we really can’t say when we will be together again. Let’s just say it was emotional!
And then fixing the bike in the afternoon. OMG. Not easy at all. I had to borrow a wrench to unscrew the pieces and a hack-saw to saw the steel fork to the right length. I wasn’t very good at that! At 5.30 I had put it all together but it wobbled. The worst thing was I just couldn’t understand why. With just 10 minutes before the shops shut, Stefano came to the rescue and whisked me and Silver off to a bike shop in Chiavari. It was tense. As we tried to explain to the guy at the bike shop what was wrong they spoke in Italian and I just stood there not knowing if he could fix it and starting to sweat. There was a piece missing to hold it stable. The guy solved it. Phew! Plus he refused any money. What a gent. We still needed to cut the fork again as my hatchet job wasn’t good enough. Fortunately Oscar makes 3D printers so he has a workshop full of tools. He is also a genius (think Doc Brown from back to the future) who loves fixing things. He cut the fork using a circular blade, and even fitted the rack and the mudguards. We had a pizza and a beer to celebrate later but I was exhausted. What a crazy day!
In the morning I said goodbye to Silvia and Sergio, my kind hosts at the Hotel Lavagnese, who had looked after me for 5 nights (and my bike and bags for 3 weeks) and after a coffee to discuss routes with Oscar I was back on the road.
On the way I went past the junction in Vignolo where I had the accident. It felt very cathartic to be able to return there with Silver in one piece. And like all trips and slips, and general failures, I had not only picked myself up, I was now passing it and moving on. Wiser and more cautious maybe. The cycling that day was short but I had achieved what I needed to.
Then after a night in a lovely b&b at Santa Maria del taro I did 83,5 km in the rain. All climbing hills again except for the last part. But the worst thing was that my clothes were soaked through. Even with 2 coats, waterproof gloves and boot covers. I was up in the mountains and it just didnt stop. I was drenched and my teeth were chattering. 15km from Piacenza I spotted a field and decided to set up tent and dry off.
The next day I continued towards Piacenza. I hadn’t slept well and was up at 5am. All my clothes were still wet. All the roads were flat at least. But the rain continued.
After Piacenza I headed north east to Cremona and then East to Mantua.
Cold and wet, I found a B&b for the night so I could dry my clothes and get wifi to write this blog. (I needed to let my parents to know I’m alive too)
I’m heading towards Padua today.
Then I aim to get to Slovenia, and then down to Africa… Wish me luck at Facebook.com/thirstycyclist or on twitter at @suttoned