Tuesday 20th August
55 mile. Asti to Novara
Today started off with a pretty crappy breakfast of a single chocolate croissant and coffee. Oh, and we had to sit in the hotel lobby to have it for some reason. Still, it gave us some sort of fuel I suppose as we set off into yet another scorcher of a day, 30 odd C for the most part and an annoying nagging headwind thrown in. At least there were some interesting villages on route to keep us amused. Why, oh why though were they all on top of bloody massive hills? They were steep too, consisting of several switchbacks that caused the speed to fall away and for the full intensity of the heat to hit us.
At least coming out of the villages gave us some nice but all to brief downhills.
It's true to say that today took a lot out of us. I wasn't particularly the distance that got to us, just the unrelenting heat and headwind that combined to dehydrate us. In addition our water was warming up in the bottles, yuck yuck yuck! In fact towards the end of the ride we were stopping for drinks and I was feeling thirsty even as we were setting off again.
We had a few dicy incidents with Italian motorists today too. Some of them pass way too close. I was trying to make myself feel a little better by thinking "hopefully they know what they're doing". I tried not to notice how many cars and trucks had big gouges down the side, clearly indicating they hadn't a clue what they were doing.
I seem to be a magnate for all the nasty bitey stinging things here to as I'm getting covered in lumps of assorted sizes and degrees of itchiness. At one point I think I got stung on my leg by a wasp. It stung like mad for ages and ages but I braved it manfully. I'm an ultra runner after all, have I mentioned that?
Tomorrow though, I think we both need an easy day and that means keeping the mileage down to maybe 35 ish as we'll be getting into the Alps very soon now.
Wednesday 21st August
37 mile Novara - Varese
Well today's breakfast was another rather disappointing affair. So far in Italy the hoteliers have all been rather mean with their offerings at breakfast and we left feeling a little under fed.
A much easier day today though for a few reasons. Firstly the head wind was much less of an issue, it was cooler (only in the high 20Cs) and it was shorter. Hopefully this will have gone some way to helping us recover although today did turn out to be largely uphill.
We did however give ourselves a bit of a scare by descending a big hill then thinking we'd made a mistake as we couldn't find the hotel. A bit of detective work on the Internet soon got us sorted. Was great to get into what turned out to be a really nice hotel. The room was really good. One of those motel style rooms that open at the front so you can park your bike outside.
Now that we're here though we can wave good bye to any form of flat riding. Tomorrow the Alps begins. I've got absolutely no idea what the terrain will be like from now on, it's not something I normally research. We'll take whatever is thrown at us though. Guess we have little choice :-)
Interestingly we're sharing our hotel with the Bardiani cycling team. Dinner gave us a chance to look at team hierarchy in action. All the racing guys on one table , team management on another while medics and mechanics occupied a third.
looking forward to proper hills now though