Published: July 25th 2008July 21st 2008
First update from the almost 1000 meters of Landeck, in the Tyrolean Alps. A day of rest where, apart from ensuring a minimum of maintenance to Rocinante, I'm in full immersion in the art of eating: breakfast at 10; half a ton of junk-food at lunch-time and now a rich snack of coffee and cake. And it’s only 5pm. Sometimes I suspect I cycle 100 kms per day just to allow myself to consequently freely indulge in food.
Food was actually the greatest of my concerns during the first days of this trip. The heat was so torrid to make food conservation almost impossible apart from creating a sort of inappetence, something absolutely unhealthy when you spend most of the day pedalling. Two years ago, crossing the Scandinavian Peninsula, I used to buy all I needed for breakfast, lunch, dinner and various snacks in the morning and then ride according to my wish at any time of the day. Rare were the days when the column of mercury exceeded 20°C. Here, tired of licking melted chocolate and sucking the remains of mashed fruit, I’ve been forced to change the system, making countless stop-over for provisions. Moreover, cycling from 1 to
5 in the afternoon was pure madness. That was the time for pine forests and siestas.
Another not negligible problem, from Pescara on, all the way up to northern Veneto, was the heavy traffic. First on the Adriatic National Road, then on the Romea, trucks have “pleasantly” accompanied my journey in large number with their amplified horns and those 18 wheels as tall as Swiss guards stroking you like affectionate kittens. The day I crossed Romagna there was a disturbing headwind, yet, thanks to the continuous transit of these “friendly” giants, this natural effect was almost totally cancelled. And then they want to put them off the roads…
In order to avoid trucks one can always opt for the many bicycle lanes of which our country is particularly rich in. Trentino-Alto Adige apart, they are non-existent outside towns while, once in the city -and here comes out the Italian genius in full swing- municipalities, probably pressed from above, have solved the problem in the most imaginative ways, like adding the bike symbol on sidewalks and claiming that that has become a cycling lane, or cut a one meter wide strip off the existing road (thus making it even
more narrow) and use it as cycling lane only to break it at any given crossroad or even driveway with a “stop/end cycling lane” signal post! And so, having to choose between doing more stops than a military convoy in peacetime or risk your own life on the driving lane, most cyclists end up using the road -now more narrow- as they did before. However, statistics in hand, no one can ever say that Italy has no bicycle lanes...
Once in Chioggia, lovely little Venice of the mainland, I wanted to take the “vaporetto” to Piazza San Marco. However, the clerk at the ferry company desk explained me with a smile that my idea to bring a bike in the heart of Venice was absolutely bizarre apart from illegal. While I was touring the harbour area then, two small but vicious dogs attacked me from both flanks simultaneously with an impressive strategic sense. I first tried to keep pedalling with one foot while kicking with the other one, then I thought about kicking with both feet in sync but that was bringing my bike to a stop, finally I hit one of the two dwarfs and their boldness evaporated.
Certainly these were little more than slippers with teeth but the episode brought back the problem of dogs. I had tried in vain, before leaving, to find a pepper spray can I had seen advertised some time before, and this would have been a great chance to test it. I mean, if it doesn’t work and I have to be bitten, better a Pekingese than a Rottweiler. However, I eventually found it in an army shop at Castelfranco Veneto.
I finally went to Venice by train after parking Rocinante. I had never been there before. I had been in places exotic and unheard of to most people but I had never been to Venice. I didn’t even know the existence of a bridge linking it to the mainland. I thought that trains stop in Mestre and then passengers reached the city by “vaporetto”. I’ve been greatly impressed, I must confess. The flocks of tourists were all in Rialto and Piazza San Marco, hence easy to avoid. Instead, I was on the lookout for what had been the home place of my hero Marco Polo. After much enquiring and walking I finally found a marble plaque marking the site on
the back of what is today a theater. Then I left Venice and I thought that this must be one of those places that set you at peace with the rest of the world. I also thought that it is too beautiful to be visited alone, even for someone like me.
And finally the Alps. I started to go up from Bassano del Grappa, smoothly and regularly for 250 km -almost all of them on bicycle lanes- before the final climb to the Resia Pass. I am not a great admirer of cities, maybe I’ve never been so and probably there is a basis of misanthropy in my character. I’m ok with parties and concerts once in a while, but my natural habitat lies where noise and colours are natural ones. Yesterday I woke up in an orchard, it was so peaceful; I loaded Rocinante and up I went towards the Pass. At Merano I had been told that it would have been extremely easy, instead I found slopes of up to 19% climb that forced me to push the bike instead of mount it. Never ask information to those who don’t cycle. Despite all, I managed to make
it to the 1500 metres of Resia. Tired like a miner in the evening, happy like a schoolboy before summer break.
And now I am in Austria eating cakes, testing my german skills (awfully low!) and smiling to the world (especially to girls). Tomorrow I’ll be off towards the western Tyrol alpine passes. I’ve been asking around, here in town. I’ve been told it's extremely easy...
July 7th: Raiano - Giulianova 107 Kms, 5h18', 20.1 Kms/h
July 8th: Giulianova - Recanati 100 Kms, 6h03', 16.5 Kms/h
July 9th: Recanati - Pesaro 101 Kms, 5h06', 19.8 Kms/h
July 10th: Pesaro - Cervia 76 Kms, 4h26', 17.0 Kms/h
July 11th: Cervia - Taglio di Po 103 Kms, 5h46', 17.8 Kms/h
July 12th: Taglio di Po - Castelfranco Veneto 113 Kms, 6h26', 17.5 Kms/h
July 13th: Venice 0 Kms
July 14th: Castelfranco Veneto - Borgo Valsugana 79 Kms, 4h37', 17.5 Kms/h
July 15th: Borgo Valsugana - Egna 71 Kms, 4h12', 16.9 Kms/h
July 16th: Egna 0 Kms
July 17th: Egna - Velloi 72 Kms, 4h38', 15.4 Kms/h
July 18th: Velloi - Resia Pass - Landeck (Austria) 132 Kms, 7h55', 16.6 Kms/h
July 19th: Landeck 0 Kms
July 20th: Landeck -
Italian Cycling Lane
Photo: Jean Pierre Adamson
Sankt Anton 28 Kms, 1h59', 14.1 Kms/h ITALIANO
La versione italiana di questo blog è disponibile sul sito Vagabondo.net
Link: Cavalcando Ronzinante II: Sankt Anton (Km 930)