Friday, June 26, 2015

Our final night in Italy- 600km and feeling strong. Just as well because the mountains are looming large

We finally got around to using the camping equipment, which we have been lugging across the country, last night. A coolish 55km east along the coast from Venice to Caorle was the perfect chance.  Not sure that it truly is a two person tent, but we managed some sleep and got an early start this morning.  Feeling strong and positive, we bashed out 90km, arriving in a town called Monfalcone near Trieste and the Slovenian border.

Reflecting on the 11 days we have spent in Italy, here are a few things that gave us a boost and a few things that got on our wicks a bit:


1. Lying signposts. Distance measures that lead you into a false sense of security,  then 5kms later have increased. 

2. Bike paths that are worse than the road option.  

3. Mosquitoes that even bother two people who have lived in Africa.  

4. Gravel paths and Sally our sat nav's penchant for them. 

5. Missed sun cream areas.  

6. Headwinds. 


1. Refer to mini gripes number 1 but before the disappointment. 

2. Five euro Gnocchi dishes. 

3. 70cent glasses of wine.  

4. Ordering drinks and getting a plethora of snacks for no apparent reason.  

5. Accommodation booking apps. Sitting down for lunch on free wifi, choosing and booking where we'd stay instantly. 

6. Bike shops everywhere, cheap and helpful.

7. Tailwinds that make you feel like a superhero.


1. The town of Cremona. Beautiful and happy. 

2. The canal cycle path from Milan to Pavia. 

3. Catching up with friends in Venice. 

4. Verdi's Aida in Arena Verona. 

5. The warm feeling of making progress with this challenge. 

6. Genuinely happy and nice people.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

5 days of riding 5 litres of wine

Into the swing of things now, as we try to have our first early night, the rain is lashing down outside. A feeling of relief for the fact that we haven't been soaked yet and because the humidity today means that rain is needed.  Weird; I didn't think I'd be that bothered by the weather on this trip, but we are certainly bronzed already.           
I realised today that ever since we've started I've had a little moment each day when I've thought how lucky I am to be doing this 50 day ride. Lucky primarily to be sharing this with the lovely Niamh, who is super tough,  loving the challenge and enjoying this as a holiday too. Secondly that we have a profession that allows us to do this. Thirdly, that I am physically capable as only a few months ago I really could not get out of bed due to three disk herniations. Doing a lot nothing for a while was one of the most difficult things for me. I am so happy that I am not suffering each day.
Yesterday was a great day.  We loved Cremona (cue 80's song... Cremona). It was a beautiful town on the banks of the Po. We had a great host and we were sent off with full bellies.  The ride today was pretty straight and a smooth one, with our pesky head wind once again.
Tomorrow is the final cycling day before a good rest.  An opera in Arena Verona tomorrow night should quench any thirst for the classics we may or may not have. That should make it 330km without a rest. Good start we think.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Following the Po river east to the sea

After a tricky 15km making our way out of Milan with our heavily loaded bikes, we finally hit the Naviglio Pavese. This old canal runs to Pavia and provided us with a smooth tow path and a direct  traffic free route. We made great time stopping for lunch and some sight seeing in this pretty town, out first on the river Po which we will now follow some 450km east to the sea and  Venice.  The afternoon was spent tracking the river on some unsuitable paths,  gravel sand and puddles which my creaking road bike did not enjoy.  However it was beautiful, the sun shining on us through forests and the glistening river.  We were relieved to see the huge motel sign from a few kms away, reaching our destination with 78km on the clock for today, my birthday.  What a perfect way to spend it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

It began here. Taken in Ferno after a really pleasant evening. Great food and wine....and company.

50km in to Milan today. Our first, nice and short ride to the city. A busy but mechanical problem free day. Heavy loads, hoping thay will feel lighter as we get stronger.  Looking forward to our route along a canal to the town of Pavia by lunch tomorrow.