Distance since home: 2264km: Today 52km
I started typing this whilst sitting in bed in a none too great B & B under the Gatwick flightpath. I finished it in a cafe 1200feet above Trieste, But the story of the climb to the campsite will have to wait til tomorrow!
I was woken by the planes but, as Bernie pointed out, it is not that different from Kennington which is under the Heathrow flightpath. The last week has been manic with cases in court as we all struggled to get to the end of term on too little sleep. But, as always, I got through it and now the wig and gown have been put away for a month and we are about to embark on leg 2 of our adventure.
New bike this time – a Surly Long Haul Trucker for those of my bike-geek friends (and of course I am a proud member of that club). But otherwise much the same kit as last year. Bernie has mended a hole in the tent and we are a year older (and possibly a year slower) but otherwise it all feels very familiar.
This trip will take us slightly further away from our “norms” of comfortable western civilisation than last year or the year before when we were in the USA. We are both looking forward to this – particularly Albania – but also have a nagging concern that we have underestimated how much of a challenge it will be. Officialdom will impose itself on us at every point we suspect and we will learn our passport numbers, date and place of issue and our grandmother’s maiden name by heart. I joke about the grandmother’s maiden name of course – or maybe not. But equally the open friendship we have always been met with as we arrive on our bikes shows what a fantastic welcome people have for strangerAnyway we are committed now and are bracing ourselves for the first set of “officials” at Gatwick. Last year we nearly did not get on the place because the bikes were too large to go through the scanner and nothing could go on the plane that had not been through the scanner,… I have no real expectation that it will be any better here but we shall see. We are, of course, leaving lots of extra time to battle those with a PhD in “jobsworthness”.
A bit later – total chaos at Gatwick but we must have looked so old and decrepit we were referred to “Special Assistance” (actually because they could not work out how we will wheel our bikes along the enormous snaking queue to Bag Drop) but once they had got over the fact that we were ‘jumping the queue’ checked in without a problem and successfully persuaded them that we did not need wheelchair assistance!
My build up to the trip was marred by a bad back for the previous week – never had before and who knows the cause – over-training, too much driving, too much sitting at the computer or a mix of all of those or none. 5 days ago I was moaning on the sofa watching the last stage of the tour de France while my back was spasming wondering how I would get on a plane, let alone my bike. However a good slug of anti-inflammatories requiring a rare trip to the GP as a patient and 2 sessions with a fantastic physio (thank you Sean) who pummelled by back into submission and here I am, much better and hoping for the best! Kill or cure I suspect and we will see what happens. Worst is we will have to hole up on a lovely Croatian beach somewhere until it gets better……..
We got to Venice albeit late and then I nearly caused a terrorist alert in the terminal when pumping up a tyre too much so it exploded! It made a really impressive noise and I waited to be arrested but .. well this was Italy. Nothing happened but it could have caused a major incident in London. I like Italy more already.
I replaced the tyre and we packed up and got on our way. It was hot – well I suppose that was predictable. We had 50km to go and were an hour late due to a delay in the BA plane. None of your Easyjet delays, this was a good old fashioned BA delay and totally unexplained. Profuse and repeated apologies but no reason.
Anyway the gulf around Venice is flat – seriously flat and so of course there was a headwind. The roads were busy and we ambled along narrow busy roads with heavy traffic both ways, and hence we were causing traffic jams behind us, But this is Italy and cyclists are common and respected so the buses, lorries and cars waited, gave us a wide berth and often a wave.
The route took us East but the rivers coming down from the mountains run north south, so there are limited East-West roads. But we left the main road eventually and ambled along in 30 degree heat as the sun set. We got some lovely photos of a full moon and then ambled along a river and across to “Sportyland” where we were booked in for the night.
An abnormally thin waitress served us some lovely Duck and Pasta with blonde beer and all seemed good with the world. We had a lovely room in this converted farmstead and were in bed none too late. Totals distance for the day was 52km but only 40m of climbing, but don;t forget the wind. Bernie’s back held up which was a great relief and we went to bed feeling we had started and looking forward to a bigger ride tomorrow,