Into the Mountains
Menton, Genova, La Spezia. Total Kms1957
I’m settling into my Italian way of life very well, the people, the food and culture all make this a very special place in which to ride. I’m on the coast and the weather is still on my side I’ve only had rain as I passed through Genova and I’ve not been wet other than in the shower since leaving Orange almost three weeks ago. I’m still following the coastal road and looking forward to Rome where I will take the Appian Way the main Roman road South towards Naples before it cuts across the country and then South Eeast to Brindisi.
There have been a couple of very eventful days recently when I’ve had to follow the road as it left the coast and headed up into the mountains. La Spezia was the next big town on my route and my the map showed the road leaving the coast and making its way inland slightly before picking up the coast again. The distance from Genova to La spezia was less than 100Kms so a day’s riding if the weather was good and the hills not too steep. It eventually took the best part of two days to complete the ride, not only did the road leave the coast it climbed and then just kept on climbing up into the mountains. I can’t tell you how high it was but it was very cold up there. The only problem with riding a loaded touring bike is that on a steep hill you have to sit in the seat because the bike is too heavy to control if you try to get out of the seat as you would on a racing bike to climb a hill, you have much more control over the bike if you’re sitting down but this causes problems on a long slow hill because your bum starts to hurt, so every hour or so I get off and push to give my bum a rest and to stretch my legs. If I ride up a hill at 5Kms an hour I might just as well walk at the same pace and give my aching muscles a rest. This speed means that I’m not getting anywhere fast and at 2.30pm after riding up this hill since 9.00am I could see that there would be no chance of getting to La Spezia, it was at least another 30Kms. I had passed a sign for a small town about 2Kms back, it was about 5Kms off the road and I knew I would have to climb that distance back to the main road in the morning but I needed to find somewhere to stay.
Bonnesola has never seen a tourist in a car let alone one on two wheels. The town had one small hotel that was mainly used by the railway workers. The owner gave me a room but said that there wasn’t a restaurant in the town but there was a famous one up in the mountains that was mentioned in all the good guide books. I shared a cab up to the mountain restaurant with two Austrian who were on a walking holiday. We had a wonderful dinner together and the best pesto pasta I have ever tasted. The Italian drink called Grapa is said to be good for the digestion so no reason not to have a few glasses. Sure enough it was a famous restaurant; the Austrians had a guide book that had a photo of the lady, who was cooking the food,
The climb back up to the main road took almost 40 minutes the next morning, the Grapa might have been good for the digestion but not for the head. It wasn’t long before I was back on my mountain route and freezing although I was wearing almost every item of clothing I owned and my warm down jacket that I keep in the bag of despair. Have I mentioned this bag, back right hand pannier, I never open it because its full of stuff that’s important but nothing that I need every day, it has my tent, medical kit, inner tubes, 2 spare tyres, spokes, brake pads, tools, and its heavy, so when I climb a hill all I can think about is the bag of doom and what can I take out of it to make it lighter and there is nothing because at some point I will need everything that’s in there, it is the most important bag I own. I’m thinking about putting a skull and cross bones or a health warning on the side of the bag.
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