Manchester UK to Rome Italy. Our daily story

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Manchester UK to Rome Italy. Our daily story

Postby JustinS007 » Tue Sep 22, 2009 5:10 pm

Tuesday 22 September 2009
Sitting here drinking instant coffee at the Brittania Hotel in Stockport, Shaz and I are quietly musing over what today, and indeed the next 4 or so weeks will bring. We have been planning a ride from London to Rome for about the last 10 years, but only now have we managed to find the time and opportunity to do so. OK, so Stockport is Manchester not London, but it’s near enough for us.

Last Wednesday at 12pm local time Shaz commenced a running race. Not just any race, but a Commonwealth Championships event in a little, very British town called Keswick. We were told the ‘Lakes’ District was beautiful, but it wasn’t until we explored the area that we realised it wasn’t all pomp and hype. The Lakes really is a wonderful destination.

After 24 hours the running race finished and Shaz had covered a distance of 195.252km. In 8th place overall and as 3rd placed Australian female she was the lucky recipient of a Silver medal. Susannah Harvey Jamieson was third overall and Meredith Quinlan 6th. Unfortunately, like in the Ashes Cricket, the poms beats us to the gold. Still, the Mens race was more like the recent one day series where we trounced our English friends.

So now reflecting on the past, Shaz and I will today set-off on the bikes and cycle through the hilly region south-East of Manchester on our way to Derby. Total day one distance is expected to be just on 100km and will involve a couple of reasonable climbs of about 300m. After a 25km easy ride yesterday to test the bikes and also Sharon’s body, we won’t be breaking any speed records today.

As the ride progresses we will keep the BNA community updated. In a loose sense, we will be heading striaght over to the UK coast and then to the Netherlands, into Germany and along the Rheine and Danube rivers to Passau, Austria. From there we head south to Salzburg, over the Groessglockner pass where the road seal is 2580m altitude, through the Dolomite ranges into Italy for a cruise on the canals at Venice, then after a few days down the East coast we will traverse the mountains in Italy and finally end up in Rome. Shortest possible distance is 2400km, but we expect to cover more like 2800 – 3000 in the next 32 days, subject, as always to having the bodies and equipment capable of doing the job.

Sharon, Susannah and Meredith (seated) with Silver Medals:

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A somewhat 'loose' representation of our likely cycling journey:

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by BNA » Wed Sep 23, 2009 10:30 am

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Re: Manchester UK to Rome Italy. Our daily story

Postby lemmiwinks » Wed Sep 23, 2009 10:30 am

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Re: Manchester UK to Rome Italy. Our daily story

Postby simonn » Wed Sep 23, 2009 10:33 am

Well, the hard bit is behind you - getting out of Manchester without being mugged for your bikes! :twisted:
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Re: Manchester UK to Rome Italy. Our daily story

Postby JustinS007 » Thu Sep 24, 2009 3:08 am

simonn wrote:Well, the hard bit is behind you - getting out of Manchester without being mugged for your bikes! :twisted:
Yeah, I reckon you're right. There's a few places we went through over the last week that look a bit 'interesting'.

Here's the next couple of parts to our story:

Part 2 – Tessa, Marianne, Roger.
We started the journey at about 9:10am which we figured was OK as the total distance for the day was short. The sky was ominous but the weather forecast had suggested no rain. And considering that we’d been in the UK for a week now and had barely 30 minutes of drizzle, we figured that it must be drying out like the rest of the world. The old foggy or rainy and never anything else visions in the mind were quickly being proved wrong.

We didn’t have breakfast as such as we ate a hearty chicken burger late the evening before and didn’t feel like we needed substantial food. So instead we had a coffee and a snack and set-off toward our late breakfast destination of Buxton. We chose to get there via the scenic route, though because the rain had decided to come and the clouds (or fog) were thick around us, it wasn’t scenic at all. I’m sure on a clear day it would be quite beautiful.

A local told us that for a good breakfast we should go to Chippy’s Plaice. I’m not sure if the British know how to spell or I’m just thick, but the ‘i’ in Plaice looked out of place to me. Subsequent research reveals the following:

n., pl., plaice, or plaices.
1. A large edible marine flatfish (Pleuronectes platessa) of western European waters.
2. Any of various flatfishes, such as Hippoglossoides platessoides of North American Atlantic waters, related to the plaice.

OK, so I’m just thick. Anyway, we had a ‘full plate’ at Chippy’s, but to be honest it really wasn’t that full. Surely a full plate would have at least 2 eggs? Still, after the climbs into Buxton (about 400m total) it was nice to get out of the rain and wind and eat something hot.

We continued on after breakfast and felt pretty tired in the legs. I’m not sure why I felt so tired as I hadn’t run 195km. I guess that running and walking with Shaz and over to our accommodation in Keswick and such that I probably went 35km, but still not enough to be tired.

But we pushed on and arrived at the 90km mark which was Derby. Here we bought some rolls and salad ingredients and a bottle of milk and thus ate, and also bought a few general supplies like bijn bags to use as liners in the panniers now that British weather is acting, unfortunately, normal.

12km further on and we had covered 100km exactly and arrived at our accommodation for the night. This was with the family of people that we met at Keswick who were friends of one of the 100km runners. It’s fantastic that we had the opportunity to stay with Roger, Marianne and Tessa as they had many wonderful stories to share and enlightened us with intelligent conversation.

Roger too is a great cook and made a huge meal of spaghetti bolognese. Apparently, according to Tessa at least, the British Spag Bol is better than the Italians make. We’ll have to test that theory in a few weeks.

So tomorrow then we’re off to Peterborough. A flatter ride and again almost right oon 100km. Hopefully the legs won’t feel so heavy.

Wednesday 23 September 2009
Such was the morning when we left the Bamkins’ that we toyed with the idea of not wearing our wind jackets today. In the end we did to ensure that we didn’t get cold, but we could have probably done without. We were greeted by a south-westerly wind which was to assist us if anything and so we figured we were in for a good day.

That all changed shortly after leaving Rempstone where we made a wrong turn. It proved to be the first of many today and so what was meant to be an easy 100k turned out to be an at times frustrating 115. I reflected many times on the sideways glance that Roger had given me the previous evening when he asked if the map book I had was the one I was going to use. It really just has ‘A’ and ‘B’ roads on it and so once you move away from those there’s potential for trouble.

Continuing the Roger theme we were told that Melton Mowbray was the English home of Pork Pies. Now being fans of pork Shaz and I quickly decided that we must indulge in the local delicacy on our way through. Roger advised that really a pork pie is just pastry and pork fat, but caring not as we indulge our way across Europe we decided to go the whole hog (bad pun) and polish off a one pound pie. Indeed the fat content was very high and so feeling a little sick afterwards and with tired heavy legs we continued our sojourn towards Peterborough.

When we reached Stamford at the 80km mark we decided that we’d had enough for the day and so decided to do some shopping (wholemeal bread, salad, weetbix, fat-free milk, lean ham and fruit) and then head just a few miles out of town and find accommodation. This process took us around in circles and eventually we found ourselves homeless and just 6 miles from Peterborough, our originally intended evening destination.

Eventually we found somewhere to stay for the night, but being priced like the Ritz it eats into our budget for the ensuing days. Shortly after we arrived Shaz involuntarily decided that the pork pie had to go. Though having ate it about 6 hours ago I think it might already have gone. Considering what junk we’ve eaten the last couple of days and the run that Shaz has come off we’re not too worried at this point. With just 65km to ride tomorrow we’ll take it slow and easy and then hopefully be OK for the ride across to Harwich on Friday.

Total km so far (2 days) = 215.

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Re: Manchester UK to Rome Italy. Our daily story

Postby JustinS007 » Fri Sep 25, 2009 5:22 am

Thursday 24 September 2009
Sometimes it’s great when things don’t go to plan. We arrived in Cambridge at about 1pm and after failing to make contact with some friends decided that we had better find accommodation quick-smart. The problem was that Cambridge at this time of year holds conferences and such between university semesters and so everywhere within cooee was booked. Our last bastion of hope was a B&B on the outskirts of town that we had been unable to make phone contact with earlier in the day, so we decided to cycle there and knock on the door. No answer.

It was now about 3pm and whilst not yet cold or dark we were quickly heading in that direction. In the house next door to the B&B we noticed three men working in the garage. They were well presented and the house looked tidy, so with nothing to lose I asked the owner if we could stay there for the night. I was pleasantly surprised when he said yes.

After sitting in the back garden and reading in the sun for a while, Tony arrived with a tray containing cups and a pot of perfectly brewed tea. We enjoyed conversation with him and two of his friends who happened to have been building a proto-type of a state-of-the-art carbon fibre, single seated aircraft. The building of such helped due to their winning of a recent international design award, one of the criteria being the need for the aircraft to weigh in at less than 115kg, engine and all. Appropriately named the E-go, later models may well be titled (or something like this) alter-ego (2 seater), super-ego (4 seater) and inflated ego (helium balloon filled option). The website is worth checking out for the technologically minded at www.e-go.me

Now this craft does not compare to the ultra-lights that we fly in Australia. It is a modern, sophisticated craft expected to cruise at a speed in excess of 200 k/h and with a range of over 650km, powered by a 40 hp wenkel engine! Of the other two gentleman, one has family in Australia and coincidentally was wearing an ‘Australia’ Tee-shirt and the other was from the tiny African nation Guinea Bissau. Amazing the people you meet.

Anyway, weatheriwse today was perfect. It sucks that it happened to coincide with a day that one of us was feeling very poorly indeed. After Shaz’s gastric circus last night we might not have made it to Cambridge today if she wasn’t a strong person.

At breakfast time Shaz managed to get down, and keep down, 9 weetabix. Then after a quick and gentle loosen up we started our ride. As we only had 65km to get to Cambridge, bike speed wasn’t an issue. We literally tootled off at about 15 k/h to start with to allow Shaz to gently ease into the day. I was carrying nearly all the weight which was a help and I emptied a full Co2 into her rear tyre. Once we hit Huntingdon and the A14 the wind was right up us as well which was perfect.

At one stage we did stop and whilst Shaz was fearful of a matinee performance of last evenings show, she managed to keep her breakfast down. We’re sure she has a bug of some sort and that this isn’t just a hang-over from the run. It doesn’t appear to be the contagious type either which is a good thing. The muscular pain she has in the quads is a different issue of course.

After settling in at Tony’s we managed to book our ferry to Holland. Unfortunately it is not the ferry that we wanted which leaves tomorrow (Friday) night at 11:45pm. Instead we have to wait until 11:45pm on Saturday. So we will get to Harwich tomorrow and then go to the ferry depot and see if there are last minute seats available. If not, we will find a place to stay (hopefully with less drama than today – though admittedly it has turned out to be fantastic) and then relax by the sea on Saturday, read and take it easy waiting for our ship to dock.

Total km so far (3 days) = 280.

PS - for BNA fans: Here in Cambridge people are bike crazy. The city is just ridiculously jammed packed with bikes on every corner, many of which look like they have been there for a very long time. Not even in previous visits to China have I seen a such a proliferation of bikes. It was just wonderful to see.
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Re: Manchester UK to Rome Italy. Our daily story

Postby lukas » Fri Sep 25, 2009 4:18 pm

*sigh* Massively jealous!!

Keep us posted :D
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Re: Manchester UK to Rome Italy. Our daily story

Postby JustinS007 » Sat Sep 26, 2009 11:23 pm

lukas wrote:*sigh* Massively jealous!!

Of the trip maybe, but not of this stomach bug we've got I'll bet :(

Friday 25 September 2009
Shaz was pretty much fine today which was great. She is still exhausted, as am I, but at least she isn’t sick. We went out for dinner last night and part of that consisted of rice from a chinese shop. I think there might have been something wrong with it because by 2am I had to bring it back up. Coupled with virtually no sleep and exhaustion from the day before I was in very poor condition today.

We left Cambridge at about 9am and made our way slowly to Colchester. A total distance of 75km and leaves us just 35km to Harwich tomorrow. Hopefully with a good sleep tonight and easy day tomorrow we’ll be OK when we hit the Netherlands.

Total km so far (4 days) = 355.

Saturday 26 September 2009
Almost managed to sleep last night. The bed was hard and so made it difficult, plus I was still a touch nauseous, but at least I kept all my food down. Shaz is still stuffy but seems to be improving. Neither of us have any energy.

Still, we’ve managed the 40ish km today and are now sitting in the Kings Arms pub in Dovercourt / Harwich. The ride this morning was undulating which we didn’t need. But at 2pm now we both feel OK and have settled into the pub for the afternoon to read and chill out for a few hours before getting some dinner and then embarking onto the ferry to Holland. Apparently it’s a monster of a freey and unless the sea is rough we shouldn’t even know we’re on a boat. Well, that might be the case but both Shaz and I have decided that we’ll take our sea-sickness pills anyway.

And to all of our Aussie friends and family – sepecially those in Victoria, we don’t apologise for bringing thye nice weather with us over here and leaving you with clod wet stuff. Judy has informaed us that Wangaratta is expected to be just 8 degrees today and raining whereas here in blamy England it’s 20 degrees, the gentlest of breezes and beautiful sunshine with just the odd puff of fluffy wshite cloud!

Total km so far (5 days) = 390.
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Re: Manchester UK to Rome Italy. Our daily story

Postby JustinS007 » Mon Sep 28, 2009 2:04 am

Sunday 27 September 2009
The people you meet. Really. After leaving the pub in Harwich last evening we trundled off to the fish and chip shop for dinner. We had planned on a ‘decent’ dinner but we both felt a touch off colour by that stage in the day and so didn’t want to fork out for a meal that we wouldn’t enjoy. Plus we hadn’t yet had chips from a ‘proper’ chippy in the UK and felt that we owed the mother land at least that much.

Now David, who with his wife Janice is looking after the shop for a few weeks whilst the owners are in Turkey (the owners are Turkish you see) is an ex-runner. What’s even better is that he used to be pretty good and represented Britain in his youth. What is even better again is that he used to run a lot and actually completed 42 half marathons in a single season at one time in the past. Considering that a ‘season’ at that time was only between May and October that was a fair bit of racing. So we’re pretty happy that we went to the local Dovercourt chipper and had a chance to talk with David and Janice.

Incidentally, for the trivia buffs (though I’m sure that the Derby Bamkins would already know this one) Colchester where we stayed last evening is apparently the oldest town in Britain. Much older than London and something to do with Saxon times. Err, Roger can you help here?

The next pleasant surprise was out stateroom on the ‘Stena Hollandica’ – our ride to Holland. OK, it’s not the Titanic (well thankfully I guess as we know how that story ended) but our room is far better than modest. With a separate toilet and shower aas well as generous storage area and lounge we were very happy. And the bed was soooooft. So lovely to have the chance to sleep on something where my spine doesn’t grate. Ah, the joy.

The ship also had all the modern conveniences one would expect such as casino, lounges, bars and the like, but we didn’t indulge in any of this instead being smart and resting with a view to managing a good day of cycling after disembarkation.

We slept OK and diembarked right on time. I added a canister of Co2 to our rear tyres so that we could make decent pace across the Netherlands. We made decent pace alright, but not across as such as we became lost after a little while. But we pressed on and eventually ended up in the centre of Rotterdam feeling a bit tired and forlorn.

Decided that enough was enough and without a proper map of the Netherlands (as were were to be through there in a day or so!) hopped onto a train with the intention of getting to Nijmegen. After a transfer at Breda we were on our way. At least we were until the train stopped at Tilberg and proceeded to the go back to Breda. What the?

Enquiry at the ticket kiosk back at Breda and we were told that ‘line distrubances’ precluded our travel to Nijmegen any time soon. Trains were ‘expected’ to be running from Tilberg again by 2:30pm, but the helpful ticket kiosk lady with her wicked smile was telling me not to hold my breath. OK, so I can’t speak Dutch, but body language is body language right?

Instead we decided with the help of the conductor that we should go to Venlo, still right near the German border but a little further south. This cuts off even more of our cycling but also gets us south of some of the more industrial sections of Germany that we’re not really interested in.

A quick hop over the border, into accommodation and now we’re settled for the evening. Tomorrow we buy a good map of Germany and a cycling map as well if we can and hopefully get a decent day of cycling into us. We’re currently looking for accommodation that we can pre-book in Cologne. At least then we have a destination and hopefully we can find somewhere that won’t cost the earth.

And yeah, that’s the huge distance of 45km today. Can’t believe how tired we are for the minimal distance we have been doing.

Total km so far (6 days) = 435.

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Re: Manchester UK to Rome Italy. Our daily story

Postby lemmiwinks » Mon Sep 28, 2009 12:09 pm

Enjoyable reading, thanks for taking the time to keep us updated (I'm far too lazy when traveling.)
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Re: Manchester UK to Rome Italy. Our daily story

Postby JustinS007 » Tue Sep 29, 2009 2:20 am

lemmiwinks wrote:Enjoyable reading, thanks for taking the time to keep us updated (I'm far too lazy when traveling.)

I write this stuff for myself anyway so it's not hard to post it here for others that might be interetsed. Here's today:

Monday 28 September 2009
I can understand why the world is becoming obese. I am now also starting to realise just how healthy our diet normally is. We live on fresh fruit, vegetables, salad, bread, rice, low fat milk, beans and legumes and a little bit of lean meat usually. And we seem to thrive. We had ambitions of eating out every night whilst on this holiday and not passing a bakerei or konditerei without having a piece of cake and coffee. But we can’t do it. Yesterday, our diet consisted of junk. Apart from a couple of apples each and a ‘green’ salad which apparently in Germany means a bit of shredded iceberg lettuce smothered in (no doubt) a full fat creamy dressing (and I mean smothered) the rest was highly refined, full fat, salt laden crap. Ugh.

So, we’ve decided to adjust our tact and admit failure on the ‘eat-everything-in-sight-especially-the-bad-stuff-strategy-because-when-you-get-home-it’s-boot-camp-time’ and will instead live out of the supermarket for lunch and dinner each day. Raw, fat free, real food that actually contains fibre and vitamins and minerals and is crunchy and colourful. Even the thought of it is making me happier.

Oh, and before I move onto today’s journey which, really, is pretty boring Roger came up with the goods on Colchester. Here are his comments:

Well Colchester is claimed to be the oldest recorded town in Britain on the grounds that it was mentioned by Pliny the Elder in AD 77. Its Celtic name was Camulodunon, meaning 'the fortress of (the war god) Camulos'.


Right, now today the journey was meant to be 80km,. Give or take maybe 2km. And after sitting on the toilet most of the night that would have been more than enough. But with wrong turns and indecision, plus an ability to speak German far below what I thought my abilities were, we ended up riding 102km and still caught a train for the last 20k into Cologne to avoid the traffic and general madness.

Our hotel for tonight is nice and cosy and has a friendly atmosphere. We have just returned from a shopping expedition and purchased fresh fuits and salads, cheese, wholemeal rolls, some light salad dressing, fresh rhubarb juice (as opposed to apple), yohgurt and biscuits. On the way out of the shopping centre we also managed to get down an icecream covered in chocolate topping and in my case nuts, Sharons case cinnamon. First unhealthy thing we’ve eaten all day.

So feeling much more positive today and definitely less sick. We are hopeful that tomorrow’s journey to Koblenz down the Reine river will be pleasant.
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Re: Manchester UK to Rome Italy. Our daily story

Postby JustinS007 » Wed Sep 30, 2009 1:26 am

Tuesday 29 September 2009
OK, now we’re making progress. We both feel much much better today and agreed that at the end of 100km we felt appropriately tired, but neither exhausted or sick. The thought now of the next 2 days in the 120km range is not daunting.

And the people you meet! Really. The bent riders will love this one. We cruised up (or actually he was moving quite quickly past us and as pride kicked in I refused to let him go) behind this guy in a 3 wheeled recumbent and started a conversation. Turns out he is Udo Walkiewicz who has undertaken numerous serious ‘tours’ through Europe and around the world. His exploits include a 7000km trek to and around Romania and back and a circuit of New Zealand. He has also been in a race where he covered more that 420km is a 20 hour duration on a recumbent. He is yet to grace us in Australia as his wife is no fan of snakes and spiders. Being a 20k or so circuit around the country though Udo is keen to come and have a look. Women see!  Udo’s webite for those interested, and it’s interesting especially if you can read German is www.liegeradler.de

And the route! Apart from the odd detour (and you can take ‘odd’ both ways) around the industrial areas on the Reine, there is a bitumen or paving stone cycleway from Cologne all the way to Koblenz. It goes much further up the river too, but we might be deviating now if we go via Frankfurt. I’ll have a look at the route plan tonight and possibly make some changes as following a river is a good way to prevent getting lost.

So we arrived in Koblenz, bought some fresh, crunchy, colourful, healthy and nutritous supplies and then booked into our hotel. Like today, as breakfast is included we will eat up in the morning before heading out. As the old saying goes, “eat like a king for breakfast, a rich man at lunch and a pauper for dinner”.

Total km so far (8 days) = 641.

Shaz on one of the bike paths just out of Koblenz:
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Udo doing what Udo does:
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Re: Manchester UK to Rome Italy. Our daily story

Postby toolonglegs » Wed Sep 30, 2009 1:55 am

Nice read :D ...isn't the weather just perfect at moment!?!....this time last year was a very different story.
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Re: Manchester UK to Rome Italy. Our daily story

Postby JustinS007 » Thu Oct 01, 2009 3:59 am

toolonglegs wrote:Nice read :D ...isn't the weather just perfect at moment!?!....this time last year was a very different story.

Yeah, we can't believe how lucky we have been so far. Although we don't mind rain we are hoping the luck holds.

Here's today:

Wednesday 30 September 2009
Bounded out of bed at 6:00am and was ready for breakfast early. Started breakfast right on 7am and loaded up on food again. It’s funny jumping onto the bike feeling quite full, but as we’re taking it easy it’s no so bad and it sure beats feeling hungry at the 2 hour point.

Pumped up the tyres on the bike with the hotel supplied pump, which incidentally was broken and required me to fix first and then started the ride at 8:30am or so.

We stopped twice briefly today for a coffee and a shared piece of pastry / cake. The route was dead flat and scenic for the first 100km to Mainz, the first 75km of that along the Reine. It was a bit disappointing to leave the river behind, but such is our route.

We had a little difficulty getting to our hotel in Walldorf as we thought we were 5km down the road in Moerfelden, but such is life! As we’d turned the Garmins off at that stage we think we probably diddled ourselves out of 10k for the day (or more), but then also figure that this has been about the norm so far. On averages we think we’re likely to ‘lose’ about 200km over the entire route if we keep this up.

In Walldorf we bought some fruit and yohgurt for a later dinner, this after having a schnitzel and salad in the town. The schnitzel had a wicked mushroom, onion and red capsicum sauce which geshmeckt sehr gut! “Healthy” went out the window a bit too as we each then scoffed down 2 x cornetto type ice-creams. Oh well, we’re feeling 100% now so as long as we don’t overdo it we’ll be OK? Good theory for now anyway.

Tomorrow’s route will be interesting. In theory 120km with a couple of pretty good climbs. Route profile is attached for those interested. Assuming we don’t get lost or too held up then we should be ok to make it. Breakfast is at 6:30am too so we can get away early. And we’ve given the bikes a nice scrub up and re-lube this evening so hopefully they will run nice and smooth.

Both Shaz and I took spills today. Me at a set of traffic lights when I was told I could go but couldn’t, and the square-up was Shaz going over in Mainz when a very large man, standing in the middle of the cycleway, couldn’t get out of the way in time. Enschuldigung, excuse me, zig, then zag, uh-ho, es tut mir leid, oh $%#^&* or something like that and she’s over. I’ve got a bit out of my left knee and hip, Shaz out of her right knee and right elbow. We’ll live.

Total km so far (8 days) = 761 (Garmin total – but more like 800).

Also below is a photo of my next home.

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Re: Manchester UK to Rome Italy. Our daily story

Postby JustinS007 » Fri Oct 02, 2009 3:29 pm

Thursday 1 October 2009
I love a good shortcut. Well, when they come off at least. Google maps told us we could go through this forest at the start of the day see, and so we did. And got lost. All within the first 2km of a day in which we weren’t entirely sure that we’d get through. Particularly as we hadn’t attempted any hills on this ride yet and we weren’t sure where Shaz is at after her run.

But we did get through to Wurzburg in the end and without any trouble really except for that fantastic initial short-cut and a short deviation through a town that ended up resulting in the need to climb for about 1km at 11%. A photo of Shaz coming to the end of this climb attached. I guess it was a great initiation to Grossglockner too which I must say I’m starting to think about more and more and get more and more excited and nervous about.

The early going was pretty quick for us – especially considering that we were taking it very easy to keep the heart rate down prior to the main climb of the day. At 500m of climb it certainly wasn’t huge, but again we weren’t sure where we’re at so decided to err on the side of safety. With a tail wind we covered the first 50km or so at about 25 k/h.

After that the going was much slower. We finished with an average speed of 21.4 k/h and covered 125km. Funny thing was that we again did about 5km after we stopped, this time following an old guy who generously agreed to show us where our hotel was. Rather than explain, a photo is attached of he, Shaz and his bike. We stopped the Garmins thinking he would lead off at about 10 k/h but dead-set Shaz had trouble keeping up with him and his acceleration was fantastic.

Weather today was again perfect. Rain is forecast for tomorrow so we might have a rest day here in Wurzburg, which was scheduled, or just do a short day up to maybe 50km or 60km. We’ll decide in the morning depending on the weather.

We’re having fun now, happy and carefree. We hope that all is well with our family and friends in Australia. Please keep the emails and facebook comments coming as we are starting think about home more now than we were 1 or 2 weeks ago. Probably a sign of impending homesickness!

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Re: Manchester UK to Rome Italy. Our daily story

Postby JustinS007 » Fri Oct 02, 2009 11:26 pm

Friday 2 October 2009
Well, I’m sitting here in the reception area of the Central Pension, Furth (imagine umlauts over the ‘u’ as there is a Furth without them about 65km south of Regensberg which isn’t far away) on the outskirts of Nuremburg. Have just finished a coffee offered by the gentleman that checked us in and feel really relaxed. It’s been a nice day and though we thought we might only do a short stint we ended up coming 100km. With a tail breeze, beautiful partly sunny partly cloudy conditions again and feeling quite full of ‘juice’ we figured we didn’t need a rest day.

And as the old timer runners that we mix with would argue when discussing running, you get about 22 hours per day to rest between sessions, so why do you need full rest days anyway? In our case, riding for about 5 hours per day gives up heaps of time for rest right? And at the easy heart rates we are maintaining (mine today for example at 109 bpm average and 25.2k/h average pace) it could be argued that we’re not training at all!

Anyway, the pension. It’s a really nice place, the welcome very friendly and with breakfast included for the morning just 39.50E. At that price I’m still waiting for the sting in the tail. Hopefully I’ll not have to update you all with one tomorrow.

Tomorrow we’re thinking we’ll go all the way to Regensburg and though we won’t have taken our ‘rest’ day, we are thinking we might extend the trip by a few k’s over the next week by following the river from there to Salzburg. We were going to go more direct which is shorter. Who knows, the plan is still fluid so anything could happen.

Total km so far (10 days) = 1004.
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Re: Manchester UK to Rome Italy. Our daily story

Postby JustinS007 » Sun Oct 04, 2009 2:47 am

Saturday 3 October 2009
Who invented head winds? Fair dinkum (for you German followers this means Gut Gott) after 2 weeks of perfect weather and light winds tending to the tail side you’d think I’d feel justified in expecting ongoing fair weather surely? Not today though. Back to reality I’m afraid with a generally head-cross wind that at times was rather unsettling. Especially when moving at about 40 k/h from adjacent to a wall to a bare area of land and traffic coming from behind. Talk about speed wobbles mixed with adrenaline.

But we got to Regensberg. Had to get up a couple of pretty serious hills in the end and topped out at an altitude of over 600m. At 125km today we’re both a little tired now, having completed over 700 ‘Garmin’ km for the week. Our hotel is crap and in the middle of nowhere so Shaz is right now down trying to talk reception into phoning the local pizza delivery place. God only knows what we’ll end up with.

On the positive side, we did manage to eat 5 bakery items on the way to our hotel. You see nothing is open in Germany on Saturday. Well, except for fuel stations where we earlier indulged in lunch that consisted of apple mineral water and 3 chocolate bars. Our intention was to get some fruit from a supermarket and some rolls and such, but nothing was open. Nothing. Craziness. We arrived in Regensberg and once we knew we were going the right way to the hotel we passed an open bakerei. So we ate. 3 pieces of cake, 2 pastries and a cup of tea. Magnificent.

Tomorrow is looking like a shorter day which we are starting to need. We essentially follow the Danube now to Passau but will only do about 80km or something and end up in a town called Osterhofen. At least that’s the plan but I’m yet to hear back from the hotel. One of the joys (not) of ‘playing your holiday by ear’ especially without motorised transport is the need to book your next nights accommodation each day. It has at times been difficult and whilst I haven’t yet needed to doorknock we’ve been close a couple of times (and I ‘literally’ haven’t had the need as Tony in Cambridge was outside in the garage, and so I bailed him up but didn’t knock on his door. OK, shut up Justin).

Bikes incidentally are going really well. I should mention that Rob (and Mannon probably moreso) from Rock and Road cycles gave them a full service before we left including a relube of the wheel bearings and centre bracket. I’ll send him this entry now so he knows I’m giving him a plug, lol.

HOLD THE PHONE (for you German followers this means Oh meine Gott), but Shaz has just walked in and told me that she managed to get reception to phone this other place we looked at for accommodation tomorrow which is 90km away but had a 3 year old website and has made a reservation for us, including breakfast, for the break-away-deal price of 43 Euro. By crikey (for you German followers this means Oh meine Gott) they even have WiFi. Go Shaz. To explain the old website thing, we are really really really trying hard to stay in simple places with real German people. Preferably non-English speaking (even though I’ve worked out that my German sucks) that can allow us to absorb the culture. Like the guy from last night’s Pension that we’re sure was listening outside our room all night!

Anyway, I’ve done enough rambling. Love to you all and here’s hoping that the next couple of days are much flatter and easy on the legs. We’re going OK, but for the first time today other than when we were sick we noticed a bit of fatigue starting to creep into the legs.

Bit of other trivia for budding cyclists too – At the moment it seems (to us) that Germany is trying very hard to develop a cycling network that pretty much provides a decent sealed route on one or the other side of every main road. At the moment though they haven’t managed this as so more often than not it’s best to stay on the road (when it’s not peak hour) than use the paths. Cruisers doing 12 – 16 k/h might feel differently, but on decent road bikes generally averaging about 22 – 26 k/h when not navigating in towns, stopping for directions etc. will find these paths tedious and at times dangerous. They can end without notice, can be paving stones that stick up, cracked seal with large bumps from roots growing underneath etc.. What German has provided is fantastic especially in tourist areas such as the days we spent along the Reine, but they still have a way to go elsewhere.

Also, best I can do on the photo front today is a shot of me in a coffee shop in Nurenberg. Tomorrow something more special I promise!

Total km so far (11 days) = 1130.

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Re: Manchester UK to Rome Italy. Our daily story

Postby JustinS007 » Sun Oct 04, 2009 11:51 pm

Sunday 4 October 2009
Well, what a fabulous day. The wind was a bit like a teenage romance – on again off again for a while early on. It started a strong headwind then went to the side, back to the head, then quickly to tail and around again. It had no idea what it was doing but eventually, like teenagers I guess, it learnt. And so finally after about 90 minutes we ended up with a strong tail wind that pushed us for the rest of the day. There was a section in the middle where we averaged about 32 k/h for 35 km. Coolness indeed when we felt like we needed the rest day.

In the end we did a couple of circuits of our destination town and made the journey an even 100km at 26.4 k/h.

About 15km from the finish we went through the little old town of Osterhofen. It was nearly 1pm and so time for a snack. We passed a Konditerei that looked like there was no seating so kept going. Found a café that looked even worse and so went back to the cake shop for a closer look. The cakes looked magnificent and indeed there was seating available, so in we went. It was Sharon’s turn to order and after my efforts yesterday I thought she’s struggle to out-do me. But such is the fierce determination in that girl, and indeed the competition in just about everything that we do, that she managed to get the one-ups on me. The photo attached will tell the tale and, though I’m never lost for words, no more need to be said!

Our room for the night is delightful. In my mind it is very German, including the begonias in the planter at the window. As a special treat for you all I’ve added a photo of those as well.

Tomorrow we follow the Danube cycle track into Passau, will look around for a while and then head south along the Inn river to our destination town of Stubenberg. We cross into Austria just before Passau, but will be back in Germany for the night.

Anyway, back to the Konditerei. We met the owner of the shop who has 3 children from 18 months up to 7 years old. He is just a couple of years older than us and takes pride in his baking as can be seen from the photo I hope. Oh, and that lot including the tea was just 10.90 Euro. I think about $17 which fair dinkum is great for the presentation and taste. Anyway, Franz used to do a bit of adventure touring himself and has done a number of long journeys across Africa on his motorbike – up to 7000km. He cycles now for fitness and does about 100km per week on his Scott mountain bike. He really wants to cycle to Rome himself one day but can’t manage it with family and the cake shop. He has a motor home though so I suggested he pack the kids and the wife into the motor home and they could meet him at the end of each day’s cycling. I’m glad I’m not going to be at dinner in that house tonight as there was a bit of a twinkle in his eye at this suggestion.

Anyhoo, we’re obviously doing well and hope that all our family and friends are going well also.

Total km so far (12 days) = 1230.

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Re: Manchester UK to Rome Italy. Our daily story

Postby JustinS007 » Tue Oct 06, 2009 12:30 am

Monday 5 October 2009
I love a good hill climb. I guess that’s obvious considering we’re going over Europe’s highest sealed pass in about 1 week. So at the end of the ride today I turned off the main road and headed into the hills toward our destination town of Stubenberg.

About 20 minutes earlier we passed what looked like a nice friendly guesthouse. Right on the main road where we turned for Stubenberg. “Why don’t we stop here” I say to Shaz. But because we had the previous place phone ahead for us and make a booking in Stubenberg we felt that it would be a bit rude. “Isn’t our place cheaper anyway. 48 Euro?” says Shaz. “Nah, same price” I respond, “But it doesn’t say if we get breakfast in that here”. On we trudge.

We get to Stubenberg, fire up the netbook and look for the name and address of our Hotel. Zur Post, Stubenberg – Prienbach Strasse 1. OK, so we ask the local where that is. “Zuruck” he says, “im ecker”. (Back to the corner is the general translation). “Vier kilometer zuruck?” (4 kilometers back?) I ask. “Ja”. Oh crap, so that place we thought looked nice was our intended destination. How to tell Shaz who isn’t a fan of hills at the best of times and getting to Stubenberg saw us climb about 100m in the last (well supposedly last) 4km of the day. Anyway, I’m alive and my blackened eye hasn’t quite closed over yet so I should heal fairly quickly.

Total distance today by the Garmin was 82km. But with “Stubenberg” (think “Watergate”) and the quite-a-few km we did in and around Passau earlier we figure it was right on or just over 90km. Pace slow and easy and though it was shockingly cold and very very foggy at the start of the day we felt toward the end that it was pretty easy and so we’re quite relaxed.

After yesterday we also craved decent food today and didn’t get stuck into the cakes and such. Although we did buy 4 jam donuts and some salted pretzels in Passau for a morning snack.

Inspired by comments from a work colleague who would prefer to be riding upright and slowly with a basket in front of her bike carrying a baguette and some Brie, I can inform you that our lunch today consisted of:

Fresh Semmel rolls,
Duck pate,
Vine ripened tomato,
Mignette lettuce,
Tilsiter cheese,
Krauter quark (like a yohgurt / chives paste stuff)
Cucumber, and
Mushroom.

Not quite the brie and baguette, but close enough for us! Oh and washed down with some low fat milk and a couple of golden delicious apples.

And we’ve decided that we are completely over cycle tracks. They are just too dis-jointed, too badly signposted and too often unsealed. If we were cruising with our brie and baguettes in the basket at the fron of our upright-seated bikes doing 12 k/h and only 20 km for the day then maybe they’re tolerable. But when we want to travel at what we consider a decent pace and get into a rhythm, then the constant stopping and starting nature of them isn’t so good.

Tomorrow we get to Salzburg. At this stage we’re not 100% sure which way we’re going as the intent was to follow the river bike paths, but now that’s over we’ll either follow roads close to the river or might even cross to inland Austria and pass a couple of sees (lakes). We want to keep the distance fairly short again to start getting the legs fully juiced ahead of Grossglockner.

Again the place we are in tonight is beautiful and people friendly. We’ve been very lucky with the weather and we reflected today on how lucky we’ve been with each other. It’s probably not ‘normal’ to have one person want to undertake the sort of stuff that Shaz and I do (eg 24 hour running, 7 x 200km consecutive days on the bike, cycle across Europe in a month etc.) let alone both. We’re lucky we can enjoy this with each other and also very lucky that we have friends and family that can help us with stuff such as taking care of Jasmine. We really do appreciate it.

Today’s photo is of what Germany epitomises for us – Unspoilt rolling green hills and forest. Not always the truth of course, but still nice to think of the ‘happy’ side. Oh, and a shot of cobble-stones in Passau which Sharon really really loves!!!!!

Total km so far (13 days) = 1312.

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Re: Manchester UK to Rome Italy. Our daily story

Postby JustinS007 » Wed Oct 07, 2009 12:04 am

Tuesday 6 October 2009
Well, talk about Baguettes and Brie. Considering the run of weather we’ve had it’s hard to imagine, but today really was the best weather day we have had so far. Temperature right now in Salzburg is 23 degrees and it’s bright, clear and sunny with a few puffy white clouds.

We ended up taking the route via Mattsee and Obertrumersee today and the scenery was just lovely. A photo is attached. Considering that the direct route to Salzburg was only 65km we decided to circumnavigate the Obertrumersee and we’re so glad we did. Even we could have taken all day to do it with the baguette and brie nicely packaged in the basket out front. Beret on the head even rather than the helmet, though now we’re probably getting a bit French povincial! Maybe a Tirolean hat instead to keep the sun out of our eyes. Who cares that we’re not in the Tirol region, it’s all Austrian right?

Actually on that subject a couple of old storied came to mind about our previous trip through Austria. On that first occasion I did indeed buy a Tirolean hat but lost it somewhere. We also plassed a flohmarkt (flea market) and it reminded us of when we bought a world globe in Switzerland and then the next day had to break in to retrieve a missing piece. The place was closed you see. Anyway.

The teenagers are at it again too, but this time with the cycle paths. Sure, one day isn’t enough data to really form a decision on, but at this early stage the cycle ways in Austria are much much better than Germany. We followed one along the main A127 road for about 25km early today and then when we came inland to the Obertrumersee the cycleway around the see was brilliant. Wide, smooth, good edges and very good sign posting made it a pleasure. All we needed was the Baguette and brie and maybe a picnic rug and bottle of cold white wine.

Total distance today was 90.3km only. But it was enough and even though we feel pretty good we’re happy about a rest day tomorrow to take in the sights of Salzburg. We’ve no idea exactly what we’ll do yet, but we are keen to have a nice restaurant meal at about 3pm in the afternoon. Kind of a late lunch I guess.

Total km so far (14 days) = 1403.

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Re: Manchester UK to Rome Italy. Our daily story

Postby JustinS007 » Thu Oct 08, 2009 2:45 am

Wednesday 7 October 2009
I think we should have rest days more often. Today has been wonderful.

We rode the 6km into Salzburg, without helmets, and locked up the bikes near the train station. We felt a bit rebellious riding without helmets, and though it was nice with the wind in our hair we would prefer the safety of having the helmet on in future. Having good helmets that are well adjusted and comfortable it really feels no different to wearing a cap.

Sure it was a rest day, but we meandered up to the the Frankishschloss at an elevation of just over 600m, took some photo’s, looked around and then came back down. After a wander and choosing of a suitable place for a late lunch we hiked up to the top of the other hill and lookouts around the main Festungschloss – a climb to about 550m. We figure during the day we walked about 12km and made about 600m in elevation gains.

We dined at an alfresco café for lunch (Café Mazz) and had a great meal consisting of goulash soup, schnitzel with parsley potatoes, salads (including a turkey breast salad with a sauce of reduced balsamic vinegar and grape must that was to die for) and finally an apple strudel and a sacher torte washed down with tea. I also had 2 x 500ml beers and Shaz had a wine which was very nice and added to our relaxed composure.

Weather here today is an incredible 24 degrees and we’re feeling it. We have track pants on but feel like we need shorts. We’re hopeful of an equally good day tomorrow as we do a day trip to St Gilgen for a ride around some beautiful lakes and a ride up the mountain in a cable car. We have also bought all the supplies (and then some) for a nice picnic at the top of the ride or on the banks of one of the lakes depending on weather and when we’re ready to eat.

Salzburg is a very beautiful place. We would recommend a visit if you are ‘in der nahe’. We also took quite a few photos all of which are on facebook if you want to have a look. There’s a good one of a pansy in the pansies, lots of views and shots of the castles and town.

Total km so far (15 days) = 1415.

Salzburg castle (Festung Hohensalzburg):
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Re: Manchester UK to Rome Italy. Our daily story

Postby JustinS007 » Fri Oct 09, 2009 1:04 am

Thursday 8 October 2009
Today is my 35th birthday. And though it’s clichéd and probably bandied around by too many too often, this really was the best birthday of my life. And though friends and family are probably sick to death of hearing it, as indeed I’m about over writing it, today was another really fantastic day.

We had an early breakfast at about 6:30am and then after a short rest started off on our ride at about 8am. We travelled into the city of Salzburg and then out to the East and Bodensee. We ran into a fellow cyclist riding a decent road bike and doing about 30k/h down breeze so struck up a conversation. Sort of. He was Croatian and speaks no English and very little German. We, of course speak no Croatian and very little German so it was kind of fun getting to know each other. Anyway, he is a pretty good club level cyclist and has done many endurance distance events throughout europe, including the one that was the subject of his jersey today. The ride ( www.novecolli.it ) is a famous, and very popular, 205km road event in Italy with a cumulative elevation gain of 3840m. Sounds like fun, so where do we sign?? Incidentally, the 2009 winner completed the route in just 5h 48m. Wow.

After parting way with Mile, we made a short climb adjacent to the Monsee and then past the Krotensee where we decided that a flat bottomed canoe in summer would be perfect for a relaxed lunch; and finally downhill to the most beautiful of regional towns called Sankt Gilgen. This place was just amazing and once again I’d urge people to get here if they every get the chance. Blah blah blah same stuff I know, but these places are just so much more beautiful than what I’ve seen in Australia; surrounded by high rugged mountains, and on the grassy banks of natural clear watered lakes.

We went up the cable car to near the summit of Zwolferhorn and the view from there was also terrific. After making the short climb to the summit for more photo’s we came back down, hopped on the bikes and headed to Fuschl on the banks of the Fuschlsee for lunch. As it was my birthday, lunch was a special treat consisting of a number of fresh gourmet breads, cheeses (blue, gorgonzola, parmesan, brie, camembert, rochefort, esrom and a chocolate chaubier!!) Oh, chocolate cheesecake will never be as good again. Plus of course we had some vension pate, goose liver pate, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, mushroom, cranberry jelly, dried fruit (apples, figs, apricot, dates, pear) and beerenaulese sweet wine. This all consumed lying on a rug on the banks of the Fuschlsee. Beats ham and tomato sandwiches any day. Sorry to rub it in, but photo attached.

Finally we made the 25km trek back to Salzburg in a very relaxed fashion indeed.

We’re also now at the point where we can’t get Grossglockner out of our minds. Our bodies felt really good today after the rest day yesterday. No lactic or lethargy feeling in the legs even on the climbs. Tomorrrow we make our final day of transit to Zell am see or Bruck depending on where we find accommodation and then subject to weather we make the ascent on Saturday. We figure that only weather can beat us, or lack of belief. Sure, the average grade for 23km is 8% and the total climb is 1830m (about the height of Mt Hotham from SEA level incidentally) but we’re fit enough. We think. We hope.

84km today, very easy pace of 22k/h and about 750m of climb aggregate.

Total km so far (16 days) = 1499.

Lunch:
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Re: Manchester UK to Rome Italy. Our daily story

Postby JustinS007 » Fri Oct 09, 2009 10:32 pm

Friday 9 October 2009
From the window of our hotel today I can’t physically see the Alps. It’s probably a good thing as tomorrow’s ride is daunting. It’s not Everest, sure, but in our world, and probably the world of most, it’s a pretty fair challenge. We know we’re not Robinson Crusoe either, but never-the-less it’s difficult not to get caught up in your own thoughts about the task ahead. History, and experience, probably tell us that this won’t be the challenge we expect, what with Shaz having done 7 x 200km consecutive days on the bike, each of us having run over 100 miles in 24 hours and engaged in other activities hat have required fairly extreme levels of fitness, commitment, determination and sustained intensity. But I’m still a touch nervous. I’m still a bit anxious. I’m still very very excited about what tomorrow might bring. Grossglockner, we’re coming to get you.

It’s only 1:00pm too. We ate early again, set off at 8am and just rode. A couple of toilet stops and direction checks and that’s it. Total distance today by the Garmin just on 86km, but with the tunnels we went through we’ve lost between 3 and 6km. We’ve also made 400m elevation from our starting point and have climbed a total of about 850m for the day. Easy paced, pleasant ride often on really good cycle ways.

We will eat shortly, then rest for the afternoon. There’s a great big bath in our ensuite, so no doubt Shaz will read in a hot soaking tub. She uses this tactic to prepare ahead of races and relax generally.

Later we’ll clean and service the bikes. Wheels removed to better clean the rear cassette, skewers out, cleaned and re-greased, chain degreased and lubricated. I’ll make minor brake adjustments if necessary and then finally pump the tyres up to about 125 psi.

We’re also hoping that we can arrange to get the bulk of our gear onto a bus that at least goes to the summit of the climb. The reception lady at the hotel, who has fantastic English, is seeing what she can do. I assumed that there would be a regular local type service up to the summit or even over the top and down to Winklern, but apparently not. Whilst the burden is only about 25kg total, that’s 20kg that we’d rather not take with us. The 5kg of thermal gear, wet weather gear, jackets and spares that I’m lugging is enough the way it is. ** Just found out no tour groups or bus service, so we’re lugging the gear. We’ll survive and hey, it just adds to the challenge! **

Weather is looking to be very similar to today which for cycling is perfect. It’s 18 degrees right now and was 14 when we left. Gentle winds, 100% cloud until the last hour when the sun broke through. Probably a little rain overnight. Visibility is likely to be poor on the way up, and probably worse at the summit. That’s a shame from a view perspective, but then tomorrrow isn’t about the view, but about conquering the mountain. The view would never be anything but a bonus.

Total km so far (17 days) = 1585.

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Re: Manchester UK to Rome Italy. Our daily story

Postby JustinS007 » Sun Oct 11, 2009 3:11 am

apologies for length:

Saturday 10 October 2009
We woke at 6am initially to the sound of my watch alarm. Then 30 seconds later to the sound of the mobile phone alarm. We’re weren’t taking risks today. But then naturally we weren’t fully asleep either.

The next sound we heard was the rain. Not panicking as there has been a bit overnight of late we trusted that our run of good weather would continue and that the rain would clear by our scheduled start time of 8:30am. Who cared if the weather forecast was the worst for today of any day on our trip so far or that the owner of the local bike shop said that it would snow today above 2000m?

I gave the bikes a quick check over prior to getting dressed and noted that Sharon’s rear tyre was flat. Crap. Maybe the Gods are against us today I mused. Clearly the full CO2 canister that I put into an already reasonably tight tyre was too much. So I changed it. Pumped it to only 80 psi and then dumped 90% of the canister in. And promptly let the teensiest bit of pressure out of my rear wheel lest the same thing happen to it.

Breakfast was magnificent today, yet we had to control ourselves ahead of the ride. On low intensity days we can really go to town as the full feeling isn’t so bad. But knowing that our heart rates would hit 170+ bpm in the next couple of hours we couldn’t afford to overdo it. Today there were fried eggs, scrambled eggs, hard boiled eggs. If we’re lucky we usually get just one type. And even blue cheese and gorgonzola. Many more breads than normal and so the list goes on. But we restrained. A little anyway.

By 8:30am the day was starting to look much clearer and we sort of gave each other a smug look without putting a curse on the weather by speaking about it. We each knew what the other was thinking. Fingers and toes crossed, we set off in what was the most perfect temperature of 12 degrees and whilst 100% overcast, not currently raining.

The first 13km passed quite easily, albeit much more slowly than usual. With the climb to come we weren’t going to risk pushing hard early. Actually we were hoping to cruise for the first half of the climb too if we could to keep some juice in reserve for the later stages, cooler and thinning air.

We were in good humour early and then just 1 or 2km after the entry station and the start of the real climbing (10% grades) Shaz tells me she has to stop. “It’s just too hard” she says. “I’m suffering, my breathing is laboured” she says. “You’ve got to be kidding” I say, “we’ve just begun.” I looked up to my left at the clouds sheltering the peaks that I’ve dreamed about cycling over for years and started to wonder if we were going to make it. At an elevation of just 1000m and with over 1500m still to go we were in strife. At this stage I did consider a smart-ass comment like ‘of course your breathing is laboured, you’re climbing a damned mountain’ but figured that with one black eye only just starting to heal I could ill afford to receive another just yet.

“Ok, give me your baggage” I said. And I took about 3kg out of Sharon’s packs. So I now felt like a mule at the end of a baggage train, but if it made the difference then I was happy to take the weight.

We set off again. Got another 3 or 4km at most and Shaz tells me she needs to stop again. I didn’t want to panic, but I was starting to get worried. And every stop fatigues the body. Lactic acid builds up from the changes in intensity, muscles get cold and sore and generally you start to feel demoralised. So after a stop and then a very brief start Shaz stops again. She gets off the bike and hangs her head. ‘This is it’ I think. Then I tell myself that she’s confronted a hell of a lot worse than this and sucked it up. So being tough love time I say to her “Bull showtime. You’ve done tougher than this. Treat it like a 24 hour and don’t stop. If you can’t ride then start walking. Come on”. So she starts pushing her bike up this ridiculously huge mountain at 10am in the morning on a cool European Saturday in October. When you think about it, it’s both funny and gusty.

At this point I also ride off into the distance with the intent of waiting for Shaz in a few kilometers. This not only allows me to enjoy a riding tempo for a while, but ensures that she doesn’t completely give up. So she felt sick and light-headed, but that’s abnothing normal for us.

About 20 minutes after I stop, somewhere around 2000m, I see Shaz pedaling up the hill toward me. The pace sure isn’t great, but she’s doing it. She’s actually doing it. I gave her a hearty dose of congratulations and encouragement and then told her that I’d give her about 5 minutes and then start off after her. After she had a couple of minutes to catch her breath she went on.

I was pretty cold at this stage having had to wait around, but knew I wasn’t doing it as tough as Shaz. After taking my own dose of TTFU I set off to make the ‘catch’. I was moving OK and generally doing about 8k/h up the 10% slopes. Considering that I was lugging about 18kg and that the main part of the climb was 1500m in 15km I was happy enough.

And Shaz was moving OK. Once we got past the 2000m point I knew there’d be no stopping her. She is one very gutsy and determined woman and I love her for it. Some would probably say pigheaded and stubborn, but I can’t agree again in fear of my good eye (for those not in the know regarding my sense of humour, or lack of it, Shaz didn’t really give me a black eye. She wanted that clarified, OK).

At the 2400m+ point when we got to the top of the first main climb it was clear that we were going through. The weather had remained fantastic, and whilst it was only about 5 degrees and cloudy what else could be expected of an alpine area? We didn’t get any sun, and we did get thick cloud between about 2000m and 2300m, but really I think we got pretty close to the best conditions you can get.

After a brief and quick downhill section we made the final climb to Hochtor. At a road elevation of 2504m we knew that we had, in our worlds, achieved something special. No doubt there’s a cyclist or two goes over that pass everyday, but still I’m betting we’re in a reasonably exclusive group.

The fun really began on the way down. The first 7km were covered at about 50 k/h and then as I flew through a roundabout with a car coming the other way the road started to go uphill again. “I don’t remember this in the elevation profile” I thought. About 5 minutes of climbing later I flagged a car down and realised I’d taken the wrong turn and was heading toward the viewing point for Grossglockner, not the road down the hill. Fortunately, being in better condition that Shaz I managed to keep out of her reach. My good eye was fortunately untouched.

After quite a few more km of serious downhill stuff we arrived in the first of our potential destination towns for the day – Winklern. We did some shopping so we could eat tonight and had an ice cream in the cone.

The next section of road immediately out of Winklern was a 200m climb and I didn’t feel like leaving it for first thing in the morning. So I asked Shaz if she could go on for a bit. She agreed and it was good to get that climb out of the way ahead of tomorrow. The best bit was the downhill from this climb. As the roads down from Grossglockner were wet we had to be a little bit careful. Although we hit speeds of 75 k/h I was disappointed that I never managed to complete a full kilometer lap in less than 1 minute (60 k/h). I registered a 1:01 and thought that would be it. But coming down from the Winklern climb with longer straights and a slightly drier road I managed to hit 75 k/h again and did manage two laps at greater that 60 k/h (59 seconds and 57 seconds apiece). Woo hoo!

In the end we even made 100km for the day and have settled for the night in a little town called Norsach, right in the view of the Dolomite mountains that we climb over tomorrow. Our room is awesome with even a crystal chandelier! Heaps of photo’s will be on Facebook shortly.

So, we’re tired and a little sore but very happy with our days’ accomplishment. Today was never meant to be an easy day or a fun day, but rather a day to test ourselves. It probably wasn’t as hard for me as I expected, but as a team I think Shaz and I got out of it exactly what we were hoping for.

For those interested in the stats, I figure that the total climb today was about 2700m even though the Garmin gives a lot more, and my final pace was 17.6 k/h at HR average of 136 and max of 176. We finished at an elevation about 80m lower than that at which we started.

Tomorrow, it’s hello Italy. Or should that be bongiorno? Anyway, auf wiedesehen Austria.

Total km so far (18 days) = 1685.

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I'm a runner, but I sure love to ride!
JustinS007
 
Posts: 244
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2008 8:09 pm
Location: Wangaratta

Re: Manchester UK to Rome Italy. Our daily story

Postby JustinS007 » Mon Oct 12, 2009 3:32 am

Sunday 11 October 2009
Breakfast was crap today which was annoying after we had to restrain ourselves from the banquet yesterday. So crap in fact that we got half frozen mini-semmel rolls and at least 2 day old stale bread! Shaz though, gotta love her, asked for more semmel, then more bread and finally more coffee! At least we ended up half fed.

Today involved climbing of about 1100m over a total distance of 113km. Fortunately the climbing was all out of the way by 31km at the point where we reached Italy. Weather was great and once back to an elevation of 200m it was 24 degrees and sunny. We wondered if we were a day early over the Grossglockner pass. Valleys, mountains, towns and rivers here so far in the north have been spectacular.

Bodies were weary today and a little sore in places. Probably not as bad as we expected though.

We eventually found a room for the night although there is no internet. Hence this late post. Shaz did well though firstly negotiating a reduced rate on one place, but still being unhappy with the final price managed to find somewhere different at an even better rate. And with breakfast. We think. But with neither of us having any great concept of Italian at all, it’s hard to be sure what the final outcome will be.

Tomorrow, Venice.

Total km so far (19 days) = 1798.
I'm a runner, but I sure love to ride!
JustinS007
 
Posts: 244
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2008 8:09 pm
Location: Wangaratta

Re: Manchester UK to Rome Italy. Our daily story

Postby JustinS007 » Tue Oct 13, 2009 12:21 am

Monday 12 October 2009
I hope bad luck doesn’t run in threes because today we’ve had a couple of shockers. Most will probably be happy to know that it rained. And not just a bit. But a torrential downpour with lightning, thunder and hail for about 15 minutes of the 2-hours long rain storm. We were out in the middle of nowhere on the SS14 road when it really hit and so we couldn’t even get out of it. Eventually we did manage to find some shelter (an elaborate letterbox area) and then quickly moved the laptop, camera and mobile into a watewrproof bag. Laptop was wet as were phone and camera but all appear to be working OK.

The second bad luck came just 15 minutes prior to the rain. With a light tailwind today and a very gentle fall from 150m elevation to sea level (we’re on the coast near Venice) we were moving along at about 29 – 30 k/h early on. Here in Italy they occasionally provide wide bike lanes adjacent to the edge of the road and running in front of the houses. Essentially glorified footpaths. They have bikes painted on the pavement and a line down the middle etc. so we were meant to be there. And then you try to use those paths to keep off the roads and do the right thing by the traffic.

Anyway, I got hit by a car coming out of a driveway. And not not just a tickle unfortunately but a full on 30 – 32 k/h impact. With the car coming out of a fenced, hedged drive there was no way I could see it or avoid it. I must have swerved a little at the point of impact because the front wheel didn’t slam into the car, rather my right leg did just prior to me somersaulting across the bonnet and sliding on my left side. My right ankle, calf and knee seemed to fare worst as I was in quite a deal of pain writhing on the ground for a few minutes. Anyway, I’m alive, the bike somehow apart from a few scratches, dints and punished shifters/brakes is in one piece. A bit of adjustment here and there and away it goes.

The lady that hit me was really sorry too. She kept speaking, in Italian obviously, but we did catch about 1 million “mi dispiace” (I’m sorry) and “incidente” (accident). I patted her on the shoulder and smiled and she patched me up. 30 minutes later we were on our way. Me sore and shaken, but at least the journey goes on.

And I’m a hell of a lot luckier than the person that was in a van involved in an accident we passed. A semi had slammed into the drivers side caving in the vehicle. The van was still under the truck and there were a lot of police and such around. I’m doubtful that the driver got out alive unfortunately. Then just a few km from our destination town of Mestre there is another accident, this a time a van is upside down in the middle of the road. Didn’t look too serious for any occupants though fortunately.

Now the moral here is that really, whether we’re meant to be there or not, those bike paths are not suited to riders doing 30 k/h. I’m not sure how she could have avoided me as she needed to ‘nose out’ to get a look down the track. She probably came out too far and too fast, but still it may have been difficult to avoid. With a baguette and brie in the basket up front and doing 10 k/h, then use the path, but otherwise I’m sticking to the road.

In the end today we covered 115km at a speed of 28.6 k/h which we think is pretty impressive under the circumstances. Tomorrow will be brilliant sunshine, we hope, and we’re having a rest day so we can get an albeit very expensive I’m sure cruise around the canals of Venice. Should be fun.

There’s extra photo’s on Facebook of course for those with access. Or if you have Facebook send me a friend invite. Attached photo’s today of me a few minutes after the accident and of a ‘drowned rat’. Well maybe not a rat. Even though my black eye is now barely noticeable at all.

Total km so far (20 days) = 1913.

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I'm a runner, but I sure love to ride!
JustinS007
 
Posts: 244
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2008 8:09 pm
Location: Wangaratta

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