Day 54 – Comacchio to Venice

It was just another short ride today. By short I mean 115km but I was finished by 1pm.

The day started off badly. There had been thunderstorms all night so I hardly slept, and had to pack away a sopping wet tent. The sky stillIMG_1058 hadn’t cleared so I donned the waterproofs just to be on the safe side.

Continuing on the SS309, I joined the early morning rush hour and a convoy of lorries towards Venice. The rain never came back and the ride remained overcast. I’d worked out that I hadn’t had a day without blistering hot sunshine now for 20 days, so this was a pleasant change from sweating 10 minutes into the ride.

Road was perfectly flat so I managed to maintain a decent pace. It wasn’t long before I reached Chioggia, just past halfway. From here the road bridges a large inlet of water. I’m sure it has a proper name. You can see it on google maps. I took a photo, it’s hard to see where the sea ends and the sky begins.

After this the road headed north and was perfectly straight for about 10km. Passing by natural woodland and marshes that looked like they had never been touched. This took me all the way to Camping Jolly where I’ll remain until next Tuesday.

Day 53 – Rimini to Comacchio

Rimini didn’t quite meet my expectations. It was a nice city but didn’t really consist of much other than high street shops. I’d describe it like Worcester town centre on a sunny day but the people are better dressed.

The campsite I was staying at was on a long stretch of holiday apartments and hotels. The beach was even divided up into plots owned by the hotels. I strolled down the sea front on the evening, with all the shops selling tacky toys, hair braiding, punch and judy, crazy golf, it really wasn’t a place I’d like to stay.

The campsite had a definite vibe to it as the campers were mainly young. I met three Belgian guys on a two week break who had got as far as they could before they needed to head back. They seemed pretty cool and they certainly liked a party. There were a group of English also who had driven down.

The road heading north went straight up the sea front. It was like being in one of those old racing car computer games where the scenery is constantly on a loop. Only the scenery consisted of shops selling lilos, beach towels and t-shirts. This continued pretty much until Ravenna where the traffic got heavy as I was now on the main road all the way to Venice.

The 152 kilometres signposted as remaining to Venice was slightly too much considering I’d already cycled at least 40 to this point, but thought I’d reduce it down somewhat before camping. So I put my head down and pushed on to the coastal lido’s that run along the coast near Comacchio. Tomorrow, Venice.

Day 52 – Arezzo to Rimini

IMG_1057My plans for today were to take me to Rimini from Arezzo. I had toured Arezzo the previous day on bike. It’s a pleasant town with churches scattered around the centre. If you’re into that kind of thing. I on the other hand was a little bored and spent most of the morning in the park then back to the campsite in the afternoon to chill out.

I wasn’t looking forward to the days ride as I knew I had a three thousand foot mountain to climb to get to Rimini and there was no real alternative. I left just after nine in the morning and instantly made a wrong turn in Arezzo.

Back on route I could see the mountains looming in the distance. Before I knew it iwas sweating profusely and climbing my first big climb. It was only 500m but it was steep.

After a brief descent, passing through the picturesque medieval town of Anghiari, I ended up in Sansepolcro. Here I bumped into three mad polish cycle tourers who were heading in the opposite direction. They had stopped for a cigarette after completing the mountain I was fast approaching.

The climb started here. It continued for a good two hours before I reached the top. As I’d expected I was greeted with beautiful views before descending pretty much most of the way to Rimini. I’d calculated todays ride as 84 miles yet it took no time at all and I arrived and Camping Italia by 16:30.

I’ll have a day looking round Rimini, then continuing on Wednesday for a two dash to Venice where I’ll wait for my fiance to arrive. She’s hopefully bringing me a new back tyre that should see me through to the rest of the trip.

Day 51 – Spoleto to Arezzo

I slept like a log. The campsite was actually really pretty although how it got as many as two stars I’ll never know. What made it pretty was at night. It’s perched in a forest on the hill opposite Spoleto so you get to see it lit up at night. Glow bugs twinkle in the trees and owls toot all night long.

Looking at the map for the days ride to Arezzo, I’d left myself in an awkward position where the only way to Arezzo directly was via motorway. This meant I’d have to skirt under Lago Trasimeno and add quite a few miles to my trip. I also couldn’t go directly to Perugia so I’d have to go south before heading back north again.IMG_1050

It was also motorway leading out of Spoleto so I decided to play dumb and cycle on it anyway. I got a few beeps so after putting in a good head start, I got off the motorway and onto my planned route before the police came and picked me up.

It was nice on my route and so many cyclists about. They always give me a wave or a cheery hello. It was a very steep climb into Perugia . I then headed to Magione before heading south under the lake.

The rest of the ride was pretty straight forward, no big hills, no heavy traffic, and although it was hot it was bearable. Therefore I made it Arezzo feeling pretty good.

My fiance has confirmed her flights to Venice now so I’m slightly ahead of schedule. Therefore tomorrow I’ll probably have a day of sightseeing around Arezzo before heading north to Rimini via San Marino.

I can’t get over how good Italians speak English. This makes it a lot easier for me. Just last night there was a guy searching the woods with his dog. I asked what he was looking for. Although his English wasn’t perfect he managed to tell me that he is looking for truffles and he doesn’t use a pig because he isn’t allowed one in the house. Incidentally, he’d found only one truffle in about 3 hours. I think he needs a better tool for searching.

The picture is of Lago Trasimeno.

Day 50 – Rome to Spoleto

I had a great day yesterday viewing Rome by bike, you can fit so much more in and riding around in the crazy traffic is cool. I took my bike to a bike shop to check out the back wheel. Pedalando I think it was called. The guy pointed out that its wasn’t buckled, the rim had been damaged and warped out slightly. He couldn’t guarantee he could fix it but didn’t seem too worried that it would cause me any trouble.

I fought my way through Rome’s early morning rush hour traffic. It’s exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. In one tunnel I was going downhill and keeping up with the traffic, I felt I could win the race to the front. I passed a dark area under a bridge full of makeshift beds. I guess this is where some homeless must sleep at night. I left as quickly as I could, it didn’t look a happy place.

I’d planned the route to Spoleto out the night before. I knew I had a few small hills to go up and one major one at the end. The small hills were short but steep and there seemed to be a lot more than the GPS was letting on.

I saw a snake sunning itself on the road. It was about 4 foot long, green with black patterns. I don’t know much about snakes but I thought it was dead. As soon as I was close it shot off into the bushes. I almost squealed like a girl.

Just after this I got my first puncture of the trip. It didn’t take me long but was a minor inconvenience. My back tyres are really wearing down now so I guess I’ll have more of these to come unless I replace it. The guys in the bike shop in Rome had showed me a slick tyre they have but slick isn’t what I’m after.

I stopped for dinner at a gorgeous town perched on the edge of a valley called Narni. Before I knew it I was riding through Terni and approaching my final climb before I reached Spoleto. It was a touch climb, made difficult by the hot sunshine and heavy traffic. I had to stop a few times to ring out the padding in my helmet.

After a brief descent I arrived at Spoleto and made my way to its only campsite. Not a soul there so I decided to try and find a hotel. Turns out the 24th June Is the first day of Spoleto’s festival, so no chance there. I made my way back to the campsite. There were a few people there now so I setup camp for the night.

If you ever get chance make sure you visit Narni and Spoleto. They are two absolutely gorgeous towns, I hope to go back someday and spend more time there.

Day 49 – Cagliari to Rome

Rather hoped I’d be sleeping on a hammock in the lower decks of the ship but the cabin with bunk bed will do I suppose. Slept well apart frIMG_1039om a constant itching from the mosquito bites I’d received the previous day.

The ferry was supposed to port at 8am but we were running late so I didn’t get off until 10am. Gave me time to have some breakfast and watch the ocean go buy. At one point a couple of dolphins jumped in and out of the water about 300m from the ship.

We docked and I made my way to Rome. I’d worked it out to be about 60km but it turned out to be a lot further than this. The road was well sign posted but then I waIMG_1040s heading to Rome, so you’d expect that.

The ride went pretty smoothly and took until dinner time. I passed a sign for an antiquarium. Is this Italian for aquarium or do they just have no fish? Passed a fair few prostitutes and stopped for the occasional handful of sultanas. Eventually I ended up at Camping Roma where I’ve decided to stay for two nights. It’s not my rest day tomorrow but you can’t come all the way to Rome and not at least stop for one day.

Day 48 – Tertenia to Cagliari

The mosquitoes really went mad for me last night. I have seven bites down my left arm, a few on the back of my neck and some on both feet. Luckily when you’re cycling all day you don’t get chance to scratch them so they should heal soon. I just try to ignore them,

I had a small breakfast at the campsite bar as I discovered it was open at 7am in the morning. Maybe not officially but the barman sorted me out a café latte, two croissants and an orange juice. Whether it would be enough to keep me going until snack time around 11am we’d have to see. I was hoping to buy some bananas but the campsite market had nothing worth buying except bottled water.

I had a steep climb to get to the man road to Cagliari. So steep in fact I was pouring with sweat all down my front. I thought by the time I reach Cagliari I’m going to look a right state when the sweat dries and I’m covered in whit blotches.

I got on the main road. 102km to go, time to settle into it and enjoy the view. About 20km in I was diverted onto a larger road. It was only a newer road that tunnelled through the mountains and cut about 30km off the route, fantastic!

I stayed on this main road all the way to Cagliari before getting diverted due to road works just before I reached my destination. This seemed to add the 30km I’d lost back on (if not a little more), and I was exhausted by the time I finally reach Cagliari.

At 4pm I purchased my ticket for the ferry to Civitavecchia. This time I’d booked myself a cabin after very little sleep from Marseille to Bastia. Boarded the ferry and settled into my cabin. 74 Euros for a cabin with ensuite and 15 hour ferry trip to Rome(ish), I consider this quite a bargain.

Cagliari is the furthest south I’ll be on my entire trip at 39 degrees. Next ferry ride will take me to the most northern point of my trip, Finland.

Day 47 – Sant Lucia to Tertenia

I’d attempted to fix my buckled wheel yesterday. I’d made it a little better but it still needed the attention of a professional with the right tools. I was using a peg clipped onto my mudguard to measure how true the wheel span. Would have used the brake blocks but they were the other sIMG_1035ide of the wheel and difficult to see. Hopefully I’ll find somewhere in Rome.

After speaking to the owner of the campsite, he’d told me the route I was taking passed through an area of outstanding natural beauty. He wasn’t wrong. Not long after leaving the campsite the road gradually climbed. It continued this way for the next 3 hours. The views were absolutely stunning though. I could hardly keep my eyes on the road.

I stayed in the mountains most of the day and took the attached pictures. The camera can’t capture the vastIMG_1037ness of the valley and mountains so you’ll just have to take my word for how beautiful it was.

I descended all the way into Tortolli and made my way to Tertenia where there was a campsite. There are just over 100 kilometres to Cagliaria. So hopefully, tomorrow I should be catching the ferry to Civitavecchia (about 60km north of Rome).

Day 46 – Porto Pozzo to Sant Lucia

The sun had warmed my tent before I’d even got up. Before I knew it I’d already started to sweat. Packing stuff up in a baking hot tent is not very comfortable. After a mild night also, I could tell today was going to be a scorcher.

There doesn’t seem to be one direct road through Sardinia, just lots a small roads leading to equally small towns. I decided to take a route down the east coast and head for Olbia. At Olbia you can catch a ferry to mainland Italy. I was already working up quite a sweat and the thought of an early exit on an air conditioned ferry to Rome was a tempting option. But no, I persevered and carried on through the port of Oblia.

Yesterday I’d passed a dead dog, today a dead tortoise. Whatever next?

By this point of was soaking in sweat and not at all comfortable so I stopped at a restaurant for food and to cool down.

The afternoon got no easier. The temperature was now accompanied by the strongest headwind I had experienced since the start of the trip. I retired earlier than I wanted and felt thoroughly demoralised.

At the campsite I’d discovered my rear wheel was slightly buckled. I’m not sure if I can fix it but I’ll try my best on tomorrows rest day.

Day 45 – Santa Lucia di Moriani to Porto Pozzo (Sardinia)

Feeling fully recharged I set off early heading for the port town of Benefacio at the south of Corsica. The ride would continue my journey on the N198 all the way to Benfacio.

The night before I’d stumbled upon a beach side hotel full of English, Even the barmaid wasn’t fooled by my “Une Bierre”. Wearing a Guinness t-shirt probably didn’t help. I’d been chatting to an English family who had been down the route I was taking on an excursion. They told me to expect heavy traffic and steep hills. They were incorrect on both parts.

The road reminded me of the route to Salamanca. One long road that seems to go on forever. Although cycling through the holiday towns broke it up a bit.

I passed a dead dog on the side of the road. In the UK I thought it was the law to pull over. It’s obviously not the same here. Poor thing!

The road started to wind a bit around Porto Vecchio and the last 20km to Benefacio was murder. I had a strong headwind and I had run out of water.

At Benefacio I jumped straight on the ferry to Sardinia. After arriving at the northerly tip I made my way to the nearest campsite according to my GPS.