Daily Archives: August 31, 2012

Day 48: Bobbio to Genoa – 97k

3,870km down: 2,355km to go

Everyone woke up a bit jaded due to the lack of sleep! We are all looking forward to it being a rest day tomorrow.

We set off with the knowledge we had a 56k climb before lunch. I was a bit apprehensive but it was actually ok. It was up, up, up, but just when you thought you could not pedal another inch it would go up for another couple of minutes and then you’d get a downhill. I got to lunch ok, and thought it was all downhill from there, but after one downhill we started going up again, a quite steep hill but thankfully this was the last significant up of the day.

Summit of 56k hill before downhill to Genoa

Up until lunch at 58k it was quite quiet, we went through some nice sleepy towns straight after lunch and then we went through a tunnel. When we came out on the other side it was like going into another universe. We came into a town called Galieta, it was chaos. Narrow streets, people having coffee sitting outside shops, vans, cars, dogs, shops, it was very busy – they must have been all getting the shopping done before the siesta.

The houses were perched on the hillside, one house I could see was five stories high but very narrow. In the distance on top of the hills you see old castles. We rode through the small villages also of Moranego, Sella, Villamezana, and Canassolo. Unfortunately my camera was flat so I don’t have any photos.

My speed coming down hills is slowly improving, and I’m getting better at cornering as well. Still to break my record of 56kph though. Some of the turns on the downhill were quite tight, and there were cars and trucks in both directions.

View coming into Genoa

When we got down into Genoa I could not believe all the motorbikes and scooters, they were everywhere and they don’t appear to either know or follow any kind of road rules. Riding a bike through these cities takes a bit of nerve and faith – faith that the drivers will not actually hit you. I have learnt you have to move into the traffic with hand signals but don’t stop to turn and look at the drivers because if you look at them they know you’ve seen them and they won’t give way – even when they should! Coming into a busy intersection and going through without making eye contact is not an action to repeat at home, but it’s the only option here!

Scooters in Genoa

We are staying at the Hermitage Hotel, it’s not as flash as it sounds, but there is air conditioning, no noisy partying families, and a comfortable bed – even if it is single.

I tried to post the box home but guess what – Genoa post offices are shut all Friday afternoon! So my first stop was laundry, then we went out to tea at a nice seaside restaurant, I can’t remember the name – Osterio something!  The Wifi is patchy at the hotel so I am not sure how much I will get done on emails. Yay, we have a sleep-in in the morning.

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Day 47: Casalmaggiore to Bobbio – 112k

3,773km down: 2,454km to go

So once again we set off early to try and beat the heat. The mosquitos were pretty savage again in the morning and it’s hard to see them when it is still dark.

We have been noticing since we have been in Italy not only do the Italian women dress so beautifully – very chic! – but so do the riders. When they are in couples you can understand the matching clothes, but you see groups of riders that not only match clothes, but also their helmets, gloves, and shoes. It’s like the last thing they discuss before they finish a ride is what clothes they will wear the next day. And boy, are their whites white – they glisten! I am thankful for wearing sunglasses as they come towards me. We, on the other hand, look like a bedraggled bunch who have been sleeping rough for a couple of months and mostly hand washing our clothes (regardless of what we do, the whites in our clothes are gray!)

The first half of the ride to lunch today was flatish and not too hot. We were at lunch by 10:30am again. The second part of ride was hot and then climbing. We stopped 5k before the camp to go to the shops but they were shut. We thought it was just for the usual siesta, but no, turns out they are shut every Thursday afternoon for the whole afternoon.

So off to camp, we got there and yay there was a swimming river right by camp, so I quickly put up the tent and then headed off for a swim. Later I was talking to Dayna and she told me she saw a SNAKE!!!! In the river!!! Not sure how much more river swimming I will be doing!!

At the rider’s meeting that night Christiano told us that we are doing a 56k climb first thing the next day. I am not sure if some people have been complaining or if he had an idea of the night that was coming, but he gave us a long talk on how this ride was not only a test of physical strength but was also a test of psychological strength as well.

Not sure what it is with the toilets over here, I have got used to no soap, and even the squat toilets, but once again we are in a camp with no toilet paper!!!! Plus not sure how common flossing your teeth is here, as I had a line of small girls watching me in the wash room, and they ran away giggling when I turned around.

There are not so many bugs tonight but have a couple of things to add to the perfect campsite
1. Mosquito free dome
2. Snake free river!!!

So back to the psychological testing. We had a number of families camping near us at night. One family partied on until midnight, with loud Italian voices, laughter, and children laughing, playing, and giggling. We of course were all in our tents from about 8pm after a long day and a big day the next. While I was lying there unable to sleep due to the noise I thought “I can either get really frustrated or I can enjoy that once in my life I am at an Italian party” (even though I was uninvited, and in a tent a metre away). The Italians have loud, but quite singsongy voices.

Also I’m not sure if I have already mentioned it but last night we had members of the sports club partying it up, yelling and shouting in the pool area (by our tents) until about 3am.

Once the Italian family finally went bed – just after midnight – we had people partying in river until about 4am. I kept thinking thankfully it is a rest day the day after tomorrow. And I hope they fall over in the river and hit their heads. Although if they had, they would probably have just woken up and thought “Hey dude, must have been a good night, because damn I have a hell of a hangover!”.

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