190513-I’m a Magician

Winds roared all around our cliffside campsite last night; the constant rattling kept waking me.  We made an intentional start at 9:30 am. Three hours later we had only covered 14 km! We’d also climbed 500+ meters to Passo de Bracco, with a castle standing guard at the top.


From there we had an almost constant down for the rest of the day. With me leading the way, Rob found descending at a higher speed more comfortable. Otherwise our speeds on descent averaged 22 kph, little more than that on the flat.

We reached the decision point for cycling down to the coast for Cinque Terre, but Rob didn’t have the 600 meter climb back out in him, so we passed it by. After the immediate 10 km descent, we bumped into another American cyclist from San Francisco, on his way to visit friends in Switzerland.

With Rob continuing to navigate, we continued towards Sarzana. Our original destination of La Spezia had a mountain range between it and the rest of our route; we routed beyond it to continue our more moderate descent to the sea.

Along the way we bumped into EuroVelo 5, providing both the lesson that it’s easy to lose an EV route (which we did), and that EV routes avoid traffic at all costs. We found ourselves bushwhacking though a cane field and dodging trail-wide water, ranging from puddles to running water.

The slow start and long delays from EV 5 meant arriving late at our destination hostel (on the side of a mountain). The hostel was located in deep within the walls of a castle, with no obvious way to cycle there. Leaving Rob with my bicycle at the bottom of a long flight of stairs, I forged ahead. Four long flights of stairs and many twisty passages led me to the hostel door – closed. It took me a couple of tries to find my way back to Rob through the corridors.

At that point time was running short to find a place to stay, but we’d passed multiple campgrounds and signs along the way. We stopped at the first to have the road turn to gravel, then mud, then mostly barricaded by construction. Again forging ahead of Rob, I rode through the construction. Several twists and turns later I found the campground. Apparently construction on the road stated two days ago, and they’ve been cut off. One woman at reception declared I must have been a magician to find them, and the other said that we could stay where ever we wanted!

I returned to find Rob patiently waiting. We set up camp, and had a lovely dinner at the campground restaurant before settling in for the night.

Rob’s reluctantly planning our route, but with practice he’s getting better, at least twice today choosing the route I would have chosen. Now I just have to convince him that the routing on a GPS doesn’t compare to analyzing the route. Where are the hills? Things we want to see? Does the road parallel water? A rail line? An even larger highway?

Rob’s reserved the hostel in Pisa for tomorrow. We’re only a bit behind schedule. Pisa is only about 50 km from here. In theory we’d be in Pisa tonight, with tomorrow as a rest day. We’ll decide tomorrow whether to take a rest day there.

Setting up camp tonight I noticed I might (already) be missing a tent stake. That brings to mind that Soap Dish, after years of trying, managed an escape before we left Milan!  Clearly it was waiting until my guard was down.

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