Posted on July 11 2019
"It is when we act freely, for the sake of the action itself rather than for ulterior motives, that we learn to become more than what we were."
There's something so special about riding in Italy. Even though my stay in Lucca was met with more rain than I would have liked, I still went out riding every day . Usually I don’t like leaving the house in the rain but here, I don’t know, the sensations were good and it’s Tuscany. I wanted to celebrate my stay on the mainland before Mallorca properly. I needed to disconnect from the world before I go back to it.
For the next few days all I need I carry with me. These tours always start with some fear -will my knees finally give out? Initially I was going to ride through some of the famous French alpine climbs but unfortunately due to some passes being closed because of snow I had to alter my route. I rode from Lucca west towards the south of France, up through Piedmont, Switzerland and back to Italy.
Day one - Lucca - Imperia. 320km 5500m
It’s no surprise that the day started out rainy and didn’t really stop until I hit Genoa. It was an uncharacteristically rainy May in Italy so I had lost my tan I earned in Gran Canaria. I was actually happy to leave and ride towards Liguria because the weather was fantastic. I rode through Cinque Terre which was a little detour but definitely worth it. I descended down into Liguria finally - I know this area very well and I love riding through here, lots of good memories. I had all my food with me so I didn’t really need to stop until I reached Imperia for dinner. It was a long day and I was a little tired so I took my time eating. I checked into my hotel at 8pm, immediately went to bed to wake up again at 4:00am.
Nothing worse than that 4am(is this real life?) alarm telling you to repack your saddle bag and get going. Breakfast was at 7:30am so I had to skip those awesome Italian breakfasts but it is what it is. I hit the road at 5am, it was still dark out but there’s nothing like that Ligurian sunrise I’ll tell you that. One of my favourite places to ride through is San Remo. In 2003, my parents took us on a tour of the French and Italian rivieras. I found this pizza place in San Remo with French fries and hot dogs and it’s been on my mind all these years. However, I’m not having that for breakfast (I’m an adult and the pizza place wasn’t open) so I figured I’d ride 50km towards Ventimiglia fasted with no water (nothing is open because Italy). I found a McDonald’s and it took 3 people to get my order. The fast food is a little slower down here - no worries though I’ve got time. As I made my way towards Menton I remember all these roads from the winter and the scenery was unbelievably green. I started heading north towards Italy, the views were fantastic and as I reach the top of the mountain near the Italian boarder at 1300m, I'm met with a tunnel that says no bikes (no way I’m turning around #yolo) the tunnel is 3.8km long. As I exit I see a long line of cars waiting for the red light to turn green, everyone waiting for me. It starts raining again and I get lost trying to find my hotel but I made it, I wash my kit and instantly pass out.
What a beautiful day - No rain just sun. As I ride up the first climb I'm met with all the decorations from the Giro - the sensations were good. It was a long day with lots of shorter climbs and some incredibly steep ones. Nothing really special happened on this ride except for riding through the roads the Giro had been on just a week before me. I finally arrive and descend into Lago Maggio with an unbelievable view similar to lake como and lake Garda. I ride around the lake with a few locals that let me sit on, check into my hotel and instantly fall asleep - no dinner.
It was an easy day today. I still get up early and out the door by 5am skipping breakfast for now. As I enter Switzerland I see a mini mart. I buy an entire loaf of bread and some water. The loaf of bread does not last long so I buy some custard pies and stuff them in my saddle bag for later. I’m not used to riding in Switzerland so obeying traffic signs well... I’ve been in Italy for too long. I spin up a short 8km climb and then descend down to Lugano as I make my way back towards the Italian border to lake como. Memories of riding here during the winter and last spring come back - nothing like como. It’s busier than usual, full of tourists and Italians bothered by their (lack of) driving skills.
As I arrive in Lecco I put on some street clothes for the train back to Milano. It’s a short ride -only 40 minutes. As the train stops in Milan a huge line forms behind me, the Italians love pushing and getting close to each other - something I don’t love but gotta embrace it, almost like fighting for position, driving is like that too but somehow I see very few accidents. Italians I feel get a bad rep for the way they drive but once you get used to it, it’s very smooth, everything flows, it’s organized chaos - I love it.
I get off the train, clip in and weave through the insane amount of people at the train station and back onto the streets of Milan I know so very well. I make it back to my sisters apartment and waiting for me (like the good sister she is) cuts up apples, oranges and cherries for me as a little snack before my requested dominos order comes in. Yes, I ordered dominos in Italy and it's absolutely delicious.