Thursday, 2 August 2007

The day the smile slipped from my face

On the second day of travelling from Florence to Rome i left the campsite at sovicille ( near the city of sienna ) and after a brief chat with myself, decided to spend a day going cross country. The 1st 30k were really great, easy rolling hills with great views of the country side. The roads were quiet and the air was a gentle warming breeze. I was following the road in my map book when i came to a Tee junction. The plan was to go straight on ahead but the town i was aiming for was signposted right. It was only 25k to the town that way, which was about 15k shorter than my little circular route. So, even though i was breaking one of my "golden rules" of "if the road ain't on my map don't go down it" i thought to myself " what's the worst that can happen".....

the 1st 5k's were okay and as i came around a corner the road headed downhill into a valley. After 50m's of going downhill i had to stop very quickly as some bastard had nicked the road! All that was left were cobbles, gravel, ruts and dust....lots of dust! No worries thought i, I'm sure its just a small section of road thats been removed ready for wasn't!

Because of the appalling condition of the road surface i was going along in 1st or 2nd gear at a walking pace. Then the construction lorries started going pass me from both directions, kicking up a small dust storm every time one went pass. As they were going pass me about every 2 minutes or so it wasn't the best time to try and go faster. Due to all the dust i was taking a drink quite often to get rid of the taste of the earth from my mouth. this went on for roughly the length of the valley ( that being 5-6k's ). When i got to the other side of the valley i was down to less than a litre of water but as there was a village only 2k away i wasn't to concerned. (can you see where this is going yet?).

As the dust cleared from yet another passing lorry i saw the road sign indicating that the hill i was to have to go up had a 15% gradient. This did not make me the least bit happy! A road that steep i can just about manage....if it was on tarmac! Anyway i continued peddling my trike and the road got steeper, around one corner, the road got steeper, around a second corner, the road got steeper. By the time i got to near the third corner my legs were on fire and hurting, the rear wheel was just spinning in the dust and not pushing the trike forward. I stopped! The trike started sliding backwards. Once i had managed to stop the backward motion of the trike the only thing left to do was get of and push, so i did.

When i got to the village, their wasn't one, just a big construction site. By now i was down to less than half a litre of water and still the road went upwards. So there i was, in the early afternoon under a hot blazing sun with no shade on the road and no real idea how long the road would be going uphill. Slowing pushing my trike, whilst the sweat dripped from my face forming little swimming pools in the dust for the ants to play in.

Over an hour later and i was still pushing my trike up the hill, sometimes loosing my footing in the fine dust that covered the once tarmaced road.....and i was out of water. Not good! By now i had told myself that the 1st hotel i came to that had a restaurant or was opposite one would be the placed i stayed in that night. Shortly after that it appeared that i was once again on tarmac...great you might think...well it was but i was still going uphill and there was still no water. Luckily, for me the road shortly met up with the main road (which was the one i would of been on if i had obeyed the golden rule). From there it was 1000m's to the 1st hotel.

At that point in the day, looking back, i think i was starting to suffer from the earliest signs of heat stroke and dehydration. when i arrived at the hotel i quickly checked in and asked for 2 litres of water. Both bottles were ice cold and the 1st one lasted less than a minute! By the time i got to my room i was already on the second bottle when i saw how much the hotel charged for a room per night....glad it's only money....or in this case 150 euros a night.

The next day i travelled 30k to a campsite. It took me 6 hours due to the fact that if i wasn't going downhill the only gear my legs could manage was 1st.

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