Wednesday, 20 August 2008
Sunday 27th July - Como to Parma
The road to hell.
This morning, I was in bicycle heaven. On Sunday mornings, the more athletically inclined Italians get out their beautiful shiny De Rosa's, Colnago's, Bianchi's and Cinelli's and take to the hills in a flourish of pink, yellow and lime green. I lost count of the number of friendly 'ciao's I got this morning as cycle clubs blurred past me downhill and it made me want to ditch my luggage and join them all for a 'proper' ride.
The 'river' in Parma
Sadly however it was not to be, for 200 kms later I feel I am way out the other side of proper ride and well into proper physical meltdown. The ride was largely flat, rising a little from Como and then carrying on pretty steady the whole way. The big problem was that it was Sunday, a day in which the entire Mediterranean stirs only for church and big family dinners, and thus leaving me with a banana, a meagre hotel breakfast and some Nutella to get through this long ride.
By Piacenza I had finished off all of my paltry rations and still had 60 kms to go, so I took the unforgettably dreadful decision to take the most direct route to Parma and cycle along the never-ending highway; a hellish, scorched stretch of blacktop where the rules of civilisation cease to apply and driving was of the 'canus canum edit' variety and in which, sadly, I had no chance. When I finally arrived I devoured two pizzas, being much the only food I could afford, and on reaching the hostel and sloughing off the baked on layer of grit and grime I had accrued, realised that I had been dry roasted, having been in 35 degree sun from 8 that morning until 7.30 in the evening. I was parched, baked and exhausted, so I fell into bed for twelve hours at the hostel, promising myself a day of culture, rather than cycling, when I woke the next morning...
Av. 22.4kph, Max. 46.5kph, Dist. 199.87kms, Time 8.54.48