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As we packed up this morning, Gzim from Kosovo came up to speak with me. He’s planning his first tour in a couple of months, showing me many pictures of his bicycle’s configuration. Rob and I started the day fixing problems caused by a loose bolt on one of Rob’s panniers, setting a theme for the day.

Less than 3 km from the hostel, Rob’s tire went flat. We sat by the site of the road, patching that tube (wildly too small for his tires), while replacing it with one of the spares.

We spent the first 30 km following a canal on either bicycle lane or small roads, with the highway on the other side of the canal.

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As we passed through Pavia and across the Po River, all the roads merged to major highways to cross the Po. The next while we road on major highway, shoved about by the wind of passing vehicles, until managing to route back to smaller roads. Passing through Voghera, we passed by our first campground opportunity to strike forward towards the farthest campground in range.

Castello Viconteo in Pavia

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We’d pushed hard to get there, but arriving in Viguzzolo we found a caravan parking lot. Rob was … dismayed. As expected, Rob’s in better shape than I. We’d improved out time across the day with me occasionally drafting behind him. But by that time Rob was tired. He’d been asking me “how much farther” (the cyclist equivalent of, “are we there yet”) for the last 10 km. Adding to the problem, only 100 meters prior to the “campground” Rob’s rear chain had dropped off, and he’d only barely managed to not have the derailleur snag in the rear spokes (which would have destroyed the derailleur). Running through the options (which included camping there at the side of the parking lot), Rob chose heading forward towards Tortona, 5 km closer to our destination, and a possible hotel.

After some negotiating for a free breakfast, we checked in. Checking on Rob’s bike, I think his rear derailleur hanger is bent, either in his fall a couple of weeks before we left, or in transit on Air Turkey. I adjusted things as best I can, as well as adjusting his rear true, and his rear brakes. He should now have his top gear with little risk of the chain falling off again. Hopefully my experience at the Durham Bike Co-Op has moved me from a mere mediocre bicycle mechanic to an improved mediocre bicycle mechanic.

We grabbed dinner and planned for the morrow. We cross the mountains to Genoa (and the Mediterranean) tomorrow, with thunderstorms in the forecast. We climb to a 772 meter pass, which will be by far the most climbing Rob has ever done.

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