Teaching the old dog, new tricks!

Let’s go back in time – not that long ago – to May 2018.  I was in Europe having spent a week in the Czech Republic with my good friend Mirek and his family – then transferred to Bern in Switzerland for the wedding of my son Ben to Sharon.

In between I managed to break a couple of ribs and tried to keep that relatively quiet despite the ‘discomfort’.  I was often asked why – well, I did not want the travel insurance company telling me I could not keep riding!  I am a bit stubborn at times!

After Ben’s wedding, I caught a train to Zurich to meet up with Aussie riding buddy Geoff.  We then rode to Asolo in the Venetian region of northern Italy, to hook up with Italy Bike Tours “last 12 days” of the Giro d’Italia.

It was an incredible 12 days spent in a variety of regions of northern Italy – watching incredible racing – riding some beautiful areas.

Much to my astonishment, I was contacted by Clive Marshall, Italy Bike Tours owner a fortnight ago asking me if I would consider being a support leader and ambassador for the 2020 Giro – I was like “say what?”……I re-read the email, thinking I must have misunderstood – then I exhaled and said “Oh my goodness” to Tony!

One issue was that we were already committed (airfares paid) to fly to London in May – but it did not take much discussion to change airfares despite an additional $850 in charges to do so!  That is another story re airline price gouging!

So we are off to the Giro d’Italia 2020!!  Exciting – you bet!!

This time I will be in a different role…not as a guest, but a support rider-leader for the other guests. First time role for me, but I am confident that I can do this and delighted that Clive has that confidence in me, as I will be a week or two short of my 58th birthday by then. So guess I will be the old granny learning new tricks.

Fantastic that age is not seen as a barrier in this company, as I have had experiences more recently where age is perceived as a barrier to being an ambassador. I think it is an advantage in supporting a certain genre of riders.

The Giro is one big party of fist pumping, adrenaline surged fun, enjoyed by all ages!

So what happened in 2018 that makes me want to return? The easier and cheaper option would have been to undertake the self supported cycle tour planned.

Is it the fantastic support team?

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Daniele, the lead rider, former pro, winner of a stage of the Vuelta.
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Stephano, photographer
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Roberto and Clive
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John Lee Augustyn, former pro with Sky
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Alberto
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Marco, former tour director who takes good care of the non riders

Is it the food?

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Well this was en route to Italy…think this is in the Dolomites. Makes me laugh still! Could not resist throwing it in.
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The amazing aspect of this meal is that we are literally 10 metres from the criterium course.

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The gelato is very good! This is Erin enjoying hers, leaning on a tour, as you do! Looks like a big wine bottle on top, yes we visited a vineyard a few days before in the Franciacorta region. Prosecco tour 2020.

Is it the decorated villages and towns that the Giro passes through?

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Is it the people you bump into on Monte Zoncolon?

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This is Chris, fellow guest like myself, having a nap waiting for the race to arrive up Monte Zoncolon.
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Josie Dow, Tasmanian that I knew from my kids swimming days. Just happened to see her climbing up Monte Zoncolon and called out to her. Great place to catch up, but how amazing to see her, picking her out from the thousands heading up the mountain.
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This guy came prepared! This is about 6 km up Monte Zoncolon and he carried his painting gear up.

Is it the mountains?

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Dolomites
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Dolomites

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Lake Garda
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Lake Garda
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Yep I rode up there!
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Looking down from Colla della Finestre
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Colla della Finestre
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Bardonecchia
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Matterhorn, viewed from Cervinia. This was a magical town and climb, ending up in a valley with mountains on three sides.

Is it the people you meet?

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Luke ( ex pat Aussie living Singapore) and Peter (Australia)
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Geoff (Australia)
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Chris (USA)
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Another Tasmanian I bumped into that I knew….Kim
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Daniele’s son with his first bike
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Getting ready to roll
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Roberto
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Visiting a very old winery

Is it the people you watch?

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Missing some gear …jersey, helmet, gloves….steering interesting but he’s having fun.
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These two guys were waiting for the race and I loved watching them…they were animated and passionate.
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Passionate! This guy flew over from Colombia to watch the Giro. He knew all the Colombians on tour and shouted and cheered as they made their way to the top of the climb. We are sitting up under the trees with a birds eye view to our left and saw close hand Froome’s incredible victory.

Is it the rides we did including some personal challenges and achievements?

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Is it chillaxing?

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Rome
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Aperol spritz, Rome

Or is it that race?

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Looks to me like this rider smiled at my camera.
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This is Chris Froome, just metres from an extraordinary win, taking the Maglia Rosa from Simon Yates, setting himself up to win the Giro d’Italia 2018.
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Very forlorn Aussie team this day, waiting for a dejected Simon Yates.

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Well, it is a combination of all of the above!  The Italians are so passionate about the Giro d’Italia – they love cycling – and as the riders come into the towns, the hairs on your arm lift!

The undoubted highlight for me was successfully climbing to the top of Colla della Finestre which included 8 km of sludgy ‘gravel’ – and then watching Christopher Froome smash himself up there the next day, having made a solo break with 80 km to go – then we dashed out to secure prime viewing positions at the top of Bardonnechia waiting for him to arrive – and what an arrival it was!

Giro d’Italia 2020 promises to be a beauty – there are the lakes including Como and Garda.  Climbs including Passo Gavia and Passo Stelvio.  Towns including Milano.  The historical country of San Marino.

You want more?  Dolomites, Alps, Piemonte – prosecco, Pantani museum and me!

Memories are truly forever – well unless you get Alzheimer’s!

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Looking for oompah loompahs

Today we bid farewell to the Dolomites. Very low clouds and light rain, 6 degrees…so what was new there?

We climbed, again nothing new for the Dolomites, but it was an easier climb to Passo Di Cimabanche at 1529 m.a.s.l. The pass witnessed much fighting during WWI, with a military cemetery nearby and a bunker established by Mussolini.

No photos at the Passo sign as it was raining and we were cold and keen to keep the legs spinning.

The following photos Tony took as he was riding. He gets the camera out, points and clicks! As I am behind him, I just he does not lose his balance, as I know I would!

Here I am climbing the hairpin bends shortly before the top of the Pass.

There is a lovely lake, Lago de Landro. My bathers have not yet made an appearance on this trip, and won’t be today either. Thanks look like a pretty cool spot for a hot summers day though. The water depth is quite shallow, and the clarity transparent.

Only a few km down the road is another quick stop.

As you can see, the road is wet…it is raining and the temperature has dropped to 4 degrees. Brrrr….moving on.

A few km before Dobbiaco, is Lago di Dobbiaco. I had ridden past this lake last year but had not stopped and ridden off the main road to check it out. Today we did the very slight detour and very glad we did

The lake is the most incredible green, with amazing transparency.

We went into over water cafe at the end to warm up and drink coffee!

At Dobbiaco we turned left (West) to follow a different valley, and the scenery was certainly different. Despite still being in Italy, the language also changed. Signs were now in German. The Tyrol.

The weather also dramatically improved. The rain stopped and the temperature increased dramatically. Clothes off! It was in the high teens!

Now I mentioned oompah loompahs! Last year I was highly ‘entertained’ by a ‘performance’ in the town of San Lorenzan by a group of Tyrolean ‘performers’. It was a Sunday and they ‘performed’ outside the local church.

By pure coincidence today was Sunday, but a few hours later in the day, but we would swing by just in case…..

I’m looking, but sadly no!

A view of the village from a slightly higher position with an old castle higher in the hills above the town.

The adjacent village also had some nice old structures.

We joined a sealed bike path, in great condition. Crossing a bridge, Tony found a replacement for the recently deceased ‘grumpy cat’.

There were numerous small Tyrolean villages.

Well sign posted, great paths.

More animals to pat.

Nice views.

This old castle is at the entrance to Muhlbach, our overnight stop.

I stayed in Muhlbach last year, en route from Zurich to Asolo. I booked the same overnight accomodation.

Last year, we arrived to great festivities with a band playing, dancing, drinking and lots of people wearing Tyrolean costumes. It was the annual Vespa party.

Today was much quieter, and I was told the Vespa party was a fortnight ago and washed out due to bad weather.

Today was a shorter day of 83 km. Tomorrow is Brenner Pass, a very busy mountain pass for all, as there are not that many in Europe. We need to cross to drop down into Innsbruck, Austria.

Todays route and chart.

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I was sad to say goodbye to the Dolomites, but I did not look back. No point lingering as we are not headed that way. Great memories, but looking forward to what is ahead.

Thanks for reading,

Ooroo

Lago Di Misurina

Last night we wandered back from the shops and took this photo of the main church in Cortina with a (partial) mountain backdrop. Unfortunately low clouds have ensured we do not see all.

This morning, around 6 am this was the view out one of our bedroom windows. It was a promising start.

Unfortunately, that was the best of the day weather wise! At least we caught a glimpse of it.

Our ride today therefore was a shorter one of around 40 km, climbing Passo Tre Croce (1809 m) and then heading into Lago de Misurina.

It is quite a stiff climb, with non cooperative cold legs protesting somewhat. As can be seen from our climbing graph, within 8 km, we went from 1200m to just under 1800 metres a.s.l. By most measures, that’s a killer warm up.

The rain was drizzling quite lightly but consistently. You are heating up quickly despite the very cool temperature. A layer of clothing came off.

The camera did not venture out a lot due to the moisture. As you will see there are drops of water on the lens on some photos.

This small lake is only a few km up, and there were signs dictating dogs were permitted.

The following three photos show damage caused by rains, floods, snow melting.

I was pleased to get to this pass. The raincoat went back on. I double gloved as my fingers were really cold.

The road plateaus and descends before turning off to Misurina. You can see that the clouds are extremely low and you only get glimpses of the mountains occasionally.

The lake was frozen. The duck has the ice field all to himself.

We drop into the first open cafe complete with bike parking. We hang our bikes and head inside for coffee.

The view from the cafe paints a fairly bleak picture.

So we order a second coffee, as the rain is now heavier, and the temperature below zero.

We note the stuffed animals! Can’t say that I am a fan but is this a mink?? Vicious looking thing, quite unlike The Mink I know all too well! 😂

Rain or not, we needed to bite the bullet and press on. This is the view from the other end of the lake.

This is a ‘borrowed’ picture taken on a nice day!! It highlights the fickle nature of alpine weather.

We then descended, slowly and controlled as the road was very wet, and it was cold. We did not want to slip and fall.

The rain eased up once we had descended a few hundred meters which was good as we were cold!

At the junction, we then turned left towards Cortina. The weather was a lot more comfortable now…4 degrees Celsius. A pretty junction that we will pass again tomorrow (heading out to Dobbiaco).

We did enjoy our hot shower back at the hotel.

We leave here tomorrow as we head towards the Tyrol, very close to the Austrian border.

There is unfinished business in the Dolomites. Any excuse to return!!

Todays map.

Thanks for reading

Ooroo

😊💪🚴

Dolomites

Fingers crossed, we peeked out our bedroom window early. Rain had been forecast on and off for the whole day. There has been some, but it looked potentially ok.

We had mapped out a few different routes we could ride for our two full days here.

Heavy, misty clouds hung over all of the peaks surrounding Cortina. We decided to attempt a climb up to Passo Falzarego (2120m.a.s.l) and take it from there. I had done this climb last year arriving to sleety and cold conditions at the top, huddling in the small chapel trying to warm up before descending.

The climb is certainly not the longest or highest single ascent we have done. It is a 16 km climb from around 1200 m.a.s.l to 2120 m.a.s.l, so around 920m single ascent.

We headed off and climbed, climbed and climbed. Within a few km we already had great views of Cortina.

Through the one and only tunnel. The signage appeared every 1 km advising you how much further the summit was.

Tony saw two deer…look closely. An adult and fawn are just to the right of the green tree, behind the brown area. Snow clad peaks in the distance.

Patches of snow started appearing when we were at 1600m.a.s.l gradually thickening as we attained greater altitude.

The climb was at a tempo pace, so quite comfortable, despite the continual but steady ascent.

About 2 km from the top, a guy came past in his car, wound his window down and gave us a thumbs up. Ride on!

At the top, there was an amazing amount of snow for this time of year. I had previously thought that maybe the heavy rains may have melted it.

Here I am, just cresting the last incline.

There were a couple of motor bike riders at the top. One guy kindly took this photo.

Also taking a break were these dudes. There were three groups of these disguised test cars using the mountain roads as a private testing ground. They had overtaken us at huge speeds. Tossers!

This is the little chapel I used as a refuge last year. The snow is very deep around it and I did not attempt to revisit it.

The weather was good, we pushed onto Passo Valparola.

When you get to the top of a climb, it is traditional to have your photo taken with the sign, showing the altitude. I was having problems! When I did eventually stand up, my feet went down so deep that the snow was at thigh level, so maybe three feet deep.

So Tony went up instead, and then I used his foot well marks!

Now we had decisions to make. One part wanted to roll on down to Corvara. In fine weather, no problem, but this is an alpine region where conditions can change very quickly. The dark clouds ahead looked a tad ominous.

The sensible voice said, head back to Cortina, you got lucky, had a great climb and views, do not push your luck. The other, competing, very loud voice said, go for it!

I hate internal conflict. I asked Tony what his opinion was. “Whatever you reckon”……🙈🤷‍♀️

The road ahead did not immediately descend greatly. You could see a straight section for maybe 500 metres…so maybe ride it and then have a better look at what is ahead of the descent?

There was a WWI Museum (closed), and when I looked down the descent, I thought ‘nope’, not today.

So we did an about turn and headed back down to Passo Falzarego and then down to a cafe near Col Gallina where a cafe open. Coffee time!

We kept a good eye on the conditions and after a couple of coffees rugged up for the descent. All clothes on. These photos are of the cafe and Col Gallina.

The descent was very cold. Holding the brakes the whole way back to Cortina, with minimal peddling required ensuring you stayed chilled.

We were pretty pumped that we had achieved our higher altitude ride with no rain. The conditions at the top were as good as you could hope for. We got up there before the tourists (two buses arrived as we started descending).

The climb epitomised my love for the Dolomites. 💕

The map route and ascent chart.

What will tomorrow bring? Well the forecast looks like rain…but let’s wait and see.

Thanks for reading,

Ooroo

I’m back!

12 months ago I spent 4 nights in Cortina d’Ampezzo, bang smack in the middle of the Dolomites. It was cold and wet for a few of the days. Will it be this trip?

Leaving Belluno we took a few shots as we walked our bikes around the narrow cobbles streets to the main piazza. The fruit stall and fish vendor had set up since we walked through here last night.

The route plan today was to stick with various cycle routes and paths, as these were options in this area. It would be safer, but slower. We had the day though as it was a shorter ride of just under 80 km. It would be uphill pretty well the whole way, starting our ride from just below 400 m.a.s.l. and finishing at just over 1200 m.a.s.l.

No big towns or cities today, just villages and the outskirts of towns. Here are some earlier photos.

Along the trails there were various signs, water fountains and fantastic views. These trails are shared use with walkers and the occasional car.

You will recall the heavy rains that dumped down only a few days ago necessitating a change in plans. Today we were to witness first hand some of the dramatic consequences. In the photo above, as well as a nice mountain you can see fresh landslide activity.

The bike track went down a slope to this, freshly moved gravel alongside a river. With the flooding, the track was gone.

It was very soft and spongy but at least we got across.

Back onto the road for a short time, off onto a quieter one where we found this herd of sheep being relocated. They were huge with goat like ears. They definitely had a loud baaaa and many wore bells around their necks.

In the next village, a sign indicated that our route was closed. Looking behind us we could see these workers clearing the railway line from landslide deposits.

Whilst we were watching these guys, a cyclist came down the closed road and we asked was it passable for bikes. Yes, but be careful as narrow. We got through without issue, to then switch back onto bike path. Another closure sign but we thought we’d see. Maybe it would be like the last one.

We were riding very slowly and carefully. Just as well because……

Yes it had been partially washed away by the river in flood. That is quite some undercut. In the photo above, you can see the track stops….it no longer exists, and there was just a drop off to the river. I imagine it will be some time before this track is repaired.

A bit of quick map checking and we headed into the road for a few km until we rejoined the bike path and route further along.

We stopped for lunch at a ‘pub’ I’d stopped at last year in Ospital. It was getting a bit cooler and windy. So we made tracks ASAP as rain was the last thing we needed.

The climbing was more intense with a series of switchbacks getting us up around 800m.a.s.l. More climbing to be done.

We eventually turned left to head towards Cortina. There is a brilliant rail trail that runs for nearly the entire length. We went through many small villages, where the old stations have been repurposed. The old tunnels were used for the route, and I think we rode through 7. It was well sealed (with a 3 km gravel section where avalanche barriers and drainage courses are being constructed).

Got to have a Milka first!

On the outskirts of Cortina d’Ampezzo is the site of the 1956 Winter Olympics ski jump arena. Now in a reasonably bad state of repair. I read that the only issue faced was a lack of snow!

The Italian Army transported snow to the area and the competition was hailed an outstanding success.

In conjunction with Milano, Cortina is on the short list ( along with Stockholm) for the 2026 Winter Olympics.

A few more km of riding to reach Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Here we are! Just a nudge above 1200 m.a.s.l. In winter this place buzzes as a major ski resort. That provides advantages to cyclists travelling with bikes as all the hotels have a ski room, for the storage of skis and boots. Perfect for bikes in the skiing off season.

We have three nights here. You need that as the weather can be temperamental at altitude. We have two rides in mind, totally weather dependant.

It is pouring with rain so we got here before it started. Good result.

The last photo is from the bike rail trail. A cafe has set up and this is outside the cafe.

Thanks for reading,

Ooroo

Knock, knock, knocking on the Dolomites doors

I’ve changed the line of a famous song there, but the Dolomites are heaven for many…skiers, bushwalkers, rock climbers, cyclists and sight seeing tourists, as well as being the backyard home for many lucky Italians.

I fell in love with the Dolomites last year visiting as part of a bike packing bike ride I did with my cycling friend Geoff, returning a few days later with Italy Bike Tours and the Giro d’Italia trip climbing part of Monte Zoncolon and other roads around.

It was on the ‘must do’ list for this years trip so Tony could experience the majestic beauty.

First things first, we needed to complete our crossing of the Venetian Plains. I am not a big fan of the Plains having crossed en route to Venice (from London) on a 2016 bike trip.

Our day started with a beautiful breakfast prepared by our host Wanda. She is a very kind and beautiful soul, and we really connected with her. The first shot is at breakfast, where we are holding her dog Pereuka, who recently delivered 6 very cute little pups.

The second photo is with Wanda as we prepared to leave, only to discover Tony had a flat rear tyre courtesy of a tiny slither or broken glass. At least he could change it in a dry garage.

It was raining and only 5 degrees Celsius. It was a tough first 100 km today as our route was predominantly urbanised, traversing the large city of Padova which took us over one hour to shuffle through, continually hopping on and off the bike, walking over street crossings, scootering, manouvering around chicanes.

The number of trucks experienced today was extraordinary for arterial roads, given the highways running parallel.

In between the there were patches of interesting buildings and features.

In the distance, you can see the Dolomites. That excited us, as we were a bit wet. We noticed a bike shop promoting Specialized, our bike brand, so swung in. Ooh some nice new bikes, and we parted with 55 euro. Tony was suffering with cold hands so we purchased thicker riding gloves for him.

For a short distance we rode alongside this canal. The temperature soared…..from 5 degrees up to 9! I needed to take one of my 4 layers of tops off! Which layer shall I shed?

There were more interesting old buildings in the next town.

Check out the base of these olive trees for sale.

More interesting towns with mountain views closing in.

The last 50 km were great. We started climbing, the lands were green, the towns smaller, and tiny villages. This is what we enjoy. The sites were great. Here are a series of progressive photos that I had trouble deciding what to include.

Riding on village lane we followed this guy for a while. He climbed up the 15 percent pinch quicker than us (a bit further along the road).

You can never get enough of the Dolomites. More views just before our arrival into our overnight town of Belluno.

This is our route and climbing graph.

Today was a challenging day predominantly due to the bad weather for the first 50 km or so, and the amount of urbanised ‘riding’ across the Venetian Plains.

We are glad to be in a more rural setting now, knocking on the Dolomites front door.

Tomorrow we climb up to 1400 m.a.s.l to Cortina, our base for three nights. It will be colder and more prone to inclement weather but my fingers are crossed! The forecasts here change regularly. What will be, will be. We are in an area of no Plan B options so whoever is holding the Sharron bad weather voodoo doll, be kind!

Thanks for reading,

Ooroo

On the road again

We were so pleased to be back on our bikes as we felt sluggish from not riding the previous two days.

It was a respectable 13 degrees Celsius when we packed our bikes up outside the hotel. These two photos are from the hotel whilst clipping our gear on.

We rode about 10 km of what I now call footpath scootering, hopping off and on the bikes, pushing, criss crossing roads whilst we competed with peak hour Bologna traffic. A few more shots on the way out.

Finally we hit the agricultural flat Venetian Plains. Not my favourite riding as I recalled from our 2016 London to Venice bike ride. You can see some of the crop damage caused by the heavy rains in the top photo. The busy road to the left is the European truck route, and it is packed.

We saw many fields like this with indiscriminate flat spots.

There were also many stone fruits, spinach and potato crops in other paddocks.

The rivers we crossed were flooded, muddy waters with floating debris.

We stopped for lunch in Ferrara, and were highly impressed with the historical town and buildings we saw. We past one of the historical gates.

Here I am riding slowly down one of the many narrow roads.

We turned the corner and found more history.

We settled on lunch at a cafe adjacent to Este Castle “Castello Estense” dating back to 1385. Surrounded by a moat, it has three entrances with with drawbridges.

Walking through the centre there were plenty of old canon balls and wells. No that is not me pushing my bike.

You just cannot eat your lunch in peace in some countries, including Italy. Hawkers hassle you. We were approached by four different guys selling ‘genuine’ articles! This certainly did not happen in any of the Eastern European countries we were in.

The guy below was selling necklaces and beads. He gave this particular couple a really hard go. He did not get far with us….Tony moved him on in ultra quick time!

It was nice to see the sun! That had not been forecast, but totally welcome!

Leaving the delightful city of Ferrara, we headed across the Po River, a 652 km long river that flows into the Adriatic near Venice. It is Italy’s longest river. It flows through a series of channels that Leonardo da Vinci helped to design.

Here it is in flood from the last few days heavy rains.

For about 15 km we followed the river riding on a cycle path on the flood levee. We turned off the levee to head through this village.

After 96 km we arrived in Rovigo. At first glance, less culturally preserved and interesting that Ferrara. Something is seemingly not square here. The house is on an angle. Riding under that arch we were in the central area of the town.

After showering we headed back into the central area to check it out. Somewhat disjointed, there are a number of surprisingly interesting buildings.

The first one we came across you could not miss given its height. It was adjacent to a roundish building named La Rotunda.

La Rotunda was being renovated and we were surprised to find a door open, so we wandered in. Our expectations were blown away and we were amazed with what we saw.

The place was one gigantic artwork.

Some other curios included the local duomo….no doors opened for us!

A few other local photos before we retired for the night.

Tomorrow we head to Belluno, regarded as the ‘front door’ to the Dolomites. A longer day of 150-160 km, depending upon which route we take. We are hoping the rain and winds are kind.

The last photo is from Ferrara. I was intrigued as you could tell this tunnel went under the Castle much further. Secret passages for me are like locked door on towers…mystery and intrigue!

Thanks for reading,

Ooroo

Rain, rain go away

We have had two days of intense rain with flooding and landslides in the Emilia-Romagna region throwing our plans into Plan B mode.

Yesterday was always destined to be a rest day in Split, as we were boarding our ferry to leave Eastern Europe after a brilliant three weeks.

The weather was shite, per the forecast.

We needed to vacate our little apartment by 10am and then kill time until the ferry embarkation commenced at around 5.30 pm.

The day was long, as it was cold and wet and we had two bikes and our luggage with us.

We ventured from cafe to restaurant, spending a few hours at one with outdoor heaters. Check out the size of the base of the olive tree behind me.

Do you recall the story a few days back of our Wolf Creek sports Jaguar driver? The guy who offered to transport us, and our bikes, in his Jaguar coupe? He was the guy who got really crabby with us for not accepting his offer. We have since ridden around 350 km since we saw him.

Guess who walked up to us and greeted us like long lost friends at this restaurant in Split? If I had been sitting on a perch, I would have fallen off in astonishment! I was gobsmacked! Split is a really big city….what were the chances of that?

After closing my amazed mouth, he told us he was looking for accomodation. We bid him farewell. 30 minutes later he reappears with a suitcase to chat again and eats at the same restaurant wanting to know if we were staying the night. We left pronto!

Wandering around the old town here are a few photos. Not many taken due to the rain and trying to find places to keep warm.

Split is famous for the Diocletian’s Palace, built for the Roman Emperor Diocletian in the 4th century. Today the remains form about half the old town of Split.

It is not a palace as you would normally think a palace looks like, but more if a large fortress. There are hundreds of commercial enterprises contained within. Tours are available but the bikes prevented that.

Here are a couple of photos showing parts of the palace.

We headed over to the Port of Split early….hanging around like a bad smell. We were there so long we got asked for Euros over and over and again by the same guys so they could buy cigarettes.

We were two of the first three to board the cargo hold. That was good as it meant we were not out in the rain like these guys. The third person was a German motorcyclist, who told us he realised he had boarded the wrong ferry! He was meant to be on the Jadrolinjia on the left. That is the Croatian government owned ferry company. We were on SNAV, the Italian based one. They run the same time and day schedules! Crazy!

The crew were far from ready for us, or the vehicles. They worked really hard and fast through their duties. 🙈

The second photo is of the wall some 10 metres from where these two are sitting. Maybe they should have gone to Specsavers!?!

Our bikes would eventually rest against the yellow parallel bars. The guy on the left tied them securely.

The guy on the right is new to the job but seems to be fitting in well. He told me he was from the Ukraine and wanted to know if we would cycle there too. Umm let me think about that…nope!

Our last daylight photos of Split taken on board the ferry. The ferry left one hour late as we watched the difficulties they were having with the main rear match door closure.

Plan B for today was activated when we awoke (being woken up at 5.30 am by the p.a.) to look out the window. Damn those meteorologists, they were right yet again.

We decided we would not hang around Ancona and ride north. It was bucketing down and the winds were a 50 kmh northerly (headwind). These photos were taken on route to the railway station.

Here I am googling train timetables and routes.

On the train at 8.42 am and we were heading to Bologna, where the Giro d’Italia had started only a few days earlier. Bologna would line us up with the next day’s ride in what seems to be an improved weather forecast. Not great, but hopefully minimal rain.

As we followed the coastline along what would have been our riding route, this was the consistent view. The Adriatic was smashing over breakwalls.

An announcement was made that due to a river flooding, railway infrastructure had been damaged on the line ahead, therefore there would be a significant delay as they took a longer option to get to Bologna.

5 hours it took all up for what was cited as a 2 hour rail journey. We later learned that there had been significant flooding and landslides in the region. We made the right call!

So now we are in Bologna. It is cold, but the heavy rain has stopped and now only occasional showers.

We are hopeful of continuing our ride, as planned, in the morning.

Bologna is a very interesting city and is the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region. Etruscan in origin, then Roman it is famous for its towers, churches and porticos. The world’s oldest university is here, established in 1088.

Some photos from our walking tour.

The army guards the San Petronio Basilica located in Piazza Maggiore.

The pillars are extraordinarily huge, with the gothic vaulting a feature high up. Construction commenced in 1388. It is the 10th largest church in the world (based on volume).

We also wandered into another local church. It amazes me how much money has been spent constructing, in the creation of sculptures, massive art works and the like. It borders obscene extravagance (notwithstanding my appreciation for the artisans skills). What that money could do for the homeless and impoverished in the world…..

Heading back towards our hotel, Tony ordered a caramel cappuccino. I said I’d try one. This is not what I was expecting.

A fortnight remains of our cycling journey. Fingers crossed for tomorrow.

My last picture is from Split, where there is a Museum featuring stuffed frogs! No is the answer in case you were wondering.

Thanks for reading,

Ooroo 😊💪🚴

Shades of Tuscany

This is the alleyway our bedroom window looked out into.  A funky part of Trieste. Our bikes were stored in the linen room, located up a different alley. It is easy to get lost with the plethora of similar looking alleys.

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Here is my bike, all packed up and ready to roll. This old fountain has been disabled from use.

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The first 5 km getting out of Trieste was a nightmare. Crazy Italian car drivers, pedestrians, motor scooters and an occasional cyclist heading every which way.

Disorganised and chaotic, yet everyone survives. They may be crazy but they are also quite tolerant.

A few km later and we have found a bike trail. Every now and then you just have to lift your bike and luggage over stuff!

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Today would be a three country day. What’s more, within 22 km of riding, we would have been in 3.

Here I am, on a bike path, leaving Italy and entering Slovenia.

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A few views of Slovenia, or is Italy?

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This is Slovenia and you can see that the vegetation is really starting to change from the first two weeks. It is taking on a decided Tuscan twist, with olives and grapes being the only crops we saw all day.

Within 20 km we had crossed the border into Croatia, requiring two more passport checks. Within a few days we have collected 6 passport stamps from Slovenia and Croatia!

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We passed numerous hilltop towns, also reminding me of Tuscany.

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In the photo below, you can see a whisp of smoke on the right hand side. As we were climbing, we rode through a thick patch, courtesy of a farmer doing a burn off.

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This old cottage is cute! Renovator required.

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This photo is by special request from my friend Ali, in England. This is continuing my New Zealand theme.

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Another renovators delight.

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Another beautiful hilltop town.

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Now this abode is for sale! I can confirm it comes with a great view!

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More great vistas.

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Towns ahead are well signposted with what is available. Crosses all languages, and a great idea!

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Views after views.

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With only 25 km to go out of todays 100 km, we stopped at a small cafe. Whilst we had no Croatian currency yet, they kindly agreed to take Euro.

We had two wonderful chicken, cheese and bacon burger, a large bottle of frizzante…all for 11 Euro.

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The next 20 km were fantastic. We descended through a gorge. At the top you could just see the water reminding me of some waterways north of Sydney.

There were a series of pop up shops selling their local wares.

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Nice colourful sign, no idea what it is about.

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The last few km into Rovinj were hairy. Impatient drivers!

We needed to get the ferry as tonight we are staying on St Katarina Island, off the Rovinj Coast, with lovely Adriatic waters surrounding us.

After some mucking around on the bikes trying to find where we were meant to be, we made a few phone calls.

At last we were on the boat heading away from the crowds. Rounding the rocky promontory reveals the best facades of the old town.

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We have been for a walk around ‘our’ island. Here are some of the views of the island and looking from the island.

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These gulls are particularly large (perhaps twice the size of our common seagulls at home) and nesting. They are as silly as plovers with some of their nest locations, but far more placid.

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The waters off the island are so crystal clear.

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Todays route and elevation profile.

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Well I must get some beauty sleep so I can continue the journey tomorrow.

A few last shots to show you of tonight’s Adriatic sunset.

Ooroo 😊💪🚴

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An Adriatic Sunset

A brilliant day on the bike!

It was very cold when we prepared to leave Ljubljana this morning. We had our winter gear on. Here is Tony getting his bike ready in the laneway outside our hotel.

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One final look at the Lubjiljana River as we cross over to the far side.

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Some shots as we departed through the city, cutting through various squares to avoid traffic where possible.

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A few km out of the city was this ‘bicycle tree’.

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In the distance we could see the hills had some snow. I suspect some was dumped last night given how cold it was.

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Beautiful Slovenia scenery.

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We stopped to grab a coffee at Logatec, and as we left a cyclist joined us on the footpath. We started chatting and his name was Nexa, and he is from Serbia.

He is riding solo from his hometown in Serbia to Lisbon (Portugal). Then he might ride up to The Netherlands. Nexa has 2 1/2 months leave.

Nexa was also riding to Trieste, so two became three.

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Continuing through the beautiful Slovenian countryside we later realised we took a wrong turn. However, that turned out to be a blessing in disguise (despite the climbing).

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This is looking towards eastern Italy and I suspect part of the Eastern Dolomites. Look at that snow! We will be in the Dolomites in 9 days time.

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Climbing! There was a bit today with numerous pinches of 15 percent, and a nasty 19 percenter! Very short, but very nasty.

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As we were climbing we noted three guys in sleeping bags on the ground behind this car. It was about 11am!

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More picturesque scenes.

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More climbing.

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Another pretty scene.

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Descending with a small dusting of snow on the hill ahead. We ended up at about 860m above sea level, and the lowest snow would have been maybe 950-1000 metres above sea level.

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As we started descending there was a collective “wow” as we saw the valley in front of us open up, snow capped alps in the background. The descent was nice!

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We refuelled in the town of Adjovscina at the base of the descent. I can highly recommend the route we took between Logatec and Adjovscina for a challenging, wow factor ride.

We hit the road again taking a fairly direct line route to Trieste involving more climbing through lush forest and farmland.

There were numerous vineyards in the area and plenty of pretty towns.

The major afternoon climb was on gravel with only the switchback sealed. It was reasonably compacted and ok for us ( I have 32 mm width tyres, whereas Nexa was on the standard road width if 23mm, so trickier for him).

 

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We crossed the Italian border about 10 km before our destination of Trieste. It is an open border between the two countries.

Finally our first view of Trieste looking towards where we will be riding tomorrow, the Istrian Peninsula. Nexa will be heading towards the Venetian Plains.

It was shortly after this photo that we bid farewell to head to our respective accomodations. Nexa was another highlight for us today. He is living his dream and passion, something we are both doing, so we acknowledge and applaud him for doing the same.

Many do not understand why we do, what we do….it would be the same for Nexa. But, we get it!

As per a quote on Nexa’s Facebook page, “Don’t wait for inspiration, be the inspiration”.

Ride on Nexa! Be safe, and may the winds be at your back!

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We had over 350 metres to descend.  This is officially my slowest descent ever.

Pictures never show what a slope really looks like. This is 24 percent and crappy cobbles! I know it only looks maybe 6-8 but the Garmin measured it at 24 percent for the great majority.  There were two sections, this is the second one.

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Downtown Trieste where we used our bikes like scooters predominantly on footpaths as we navigated towards our hotel.

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Todays route and climbing profile. A total ride of 101 km.

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We wandered around the old town after showering and clothes washing.

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We had an average Italian meal at a restaurant with a somewhat incongruous name of C’est le vie…that was belting out Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York! Whatever!

An above average sunset greeted us as we returned to our hotel.

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We do not usually do selfies however literally everyone else was so we thought…why not!

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The sunset cast a lovely colour on this foreshore building.

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What a fantastic day today. One error in navigation took us down a path not heavily trodden. We really enjoyed it, plus getting to know Nexa.

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So as the sun sets on day 14 of our adventure. Ooroo.

😊💪🚴

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