Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Italy - Turin and onwards

22nd 24km

Easy morning ride into Turin. I stop on the way to steal some wifi for a city map. While I tap away two local mountain bikers pull along side. With broken Italianglish we establish who's who. A quick Bob Dylan number secures me a croissant and a coffee - result They take lots of picture of me and then, with some bear-like parting handshakes, they are on their way.

I cop out. Campsite. I spend the evening servicing the bike and doing laundry. The campsite is empty and beer expensive – two factors that drastically reduce the chances of a rocking night. Nice view of the city though...

Last minute I opt for a rest day. My first in a week. I attempt to catch up on the blog, do other internet tasks, and then actually get to explore some of the city. I had forgot the pleasure of sightseeing (by bike) in a bicycle friendly city. I park up in various cafes that take my fancy, drink far too much good coffee, and indulge in some laptop time. In the evening I find an Irish bar and treat myself to a stout – wwwwwwwwwooooooooooooowwwwwww (my taste buds are barely prepared for proper beer) it's been too long old friend!

24th 101km- Back on the ton!
I leave the city at ten in the morning – not my snappiest start. Riding out of town attracts a lot of attention – Italy is full of cyclists. While pedalling away I chat with various lycra clad speed demons. The morning passes quickly. Old faithful (Lidl) supplies me with three days of food for €10. I get my fruit from roadside stalls. The seller is miserable – but as I tuck into two kilos of prime oranges he grumpiness is forgotten. With a weeks worth of vitamin C pumping through my veins I return to the road.

I lost my sun hat long back and by mid-afternoon the sun is getting the better of me. I spot an outdoor store and get a new shade for my bonce.

All afternoon my gaze is fixed on the snowy peaks in the distance. It doesn't feel that long ago that I was surrounded by them in Turkey/Georgia – though it's been a few months now. I'm excited by the idea of mountain riding again – but I must admit I'm definitely getting comfortable with the warm Mediterranean Spring.

I spy a nice spot to camp. With thirty minutes of light remaining I hide in some woodland until no-one can see me set up.

25th 58km

All morning I climb slowly through the foothills of the Italian Alps. Along the way I pass several signs indicating that bicycles are not allowed on this road. I ignore them – seeing no good reason why not.

By mid-afternoon I find the reason for the road restrictions – a four kilometre tunnel linking Italy and France. I hop off the bike and take a water break. The line of car drivers all watch me as I explore the tunnel entrance, dimly lit, stretching on seemingly forever until my eyes fail me. It doesn't look good. A traffic light system sends cars through in fifteen minute shifts, at a set speed, with a set separation distance. There are no curbs and only one lane. I go for plan B. I take the bike apart piece by piece. Take a seat on the luggage pile, pull out the guitar, and flash my thumb at all who pass by.

It works!

France from James Rathbone on Vimeo.

In the evening I make a start on a mountain pass...but give up. Pussy! With little in the way of camping I decide on a different (more coastal) route.

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