England, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Monaco, Italy, France, Italy, France, Switzerland, France, Enlgand.
I left London late on Thursday evening and rode down to Folkestone to catch the euro tunnel train at 8.30, I arrived late because operation stack was in place and the even then the train was delayed from leaving because of the troubles with people trying to cross illegally into the UK, however eventually the train pulled away and I was off to France!
The train arrived an hour and a half late and even then we had to be escorted from the train to prevent anyone sneaking in whilst the gates where open, but eventually I was through and on the road.
France was cold.
When you leave Calais to go in ANY direction you will find yourself passing through endless low laying farm land, where most evenings summer or winter mist will roll in and cover the roads, and the winds whip across them pushing and puling you in all ways making it harder to enjoy the ride, but eventually I had a few hundred miles under my belt and was through France, almost out of Belgium and in to Germany enroute for Regensburg to meet my two brothers and cousins (the later who live there). Before too long the mist and fog had made its way to Germany and I was finding myself battling through thick fog for miles at a time, not pleasant by any means. I don’t like riding at night on the motorways for long distances. It plays tricks on your mind. The speed I would do during the day makes me nervous at night. Too many things can happen at night that wouldn’t by day. Nocturnal animals running out making you jump, shadows from the trees and foliage along the roadside moving in strange directions causing odd patterns on the road, fog etc, all of which make riding at night not fun! I tried to make as much progress as I could but eventually found myself forced off the road for safety reasons as I couldn’t se more than twenty metres in front of me. I pulled in at a road side garage around 4am, and found a quiet warm spot in the foyer of the adjacent shopping area to lay my head down for a few hours until the sun came up and the fog lifted from the road.
At around 6am on Friday morning, I was awoken by the shop manager who was opening up for the early shift, I had a cup of coffee, bushed my teeth and pushed on to Regensburg. I eventually arrived at 11am ish! Tired and in need of a good nights sleep! I hung out with my brothers and cousins for the day and caught up on some sleep.
In the evening we went out for dinner and my brothers and cousins talked about their ride across the Alps on bicycles that they where starting the next day. Each day they will do around 30-40 miles of up hill torture across some of the most beautiful country scenes I’ve ever seen. I decided I’d hang with them the first day and be support team if needed! We went to bed late and drunk! I was up early on Saturday at 6.30. showered, packed the bike and was ready to leave with the guys around 8 ish.
They went by car, I went by my bike through southern Bavaria and eventually into Austria.
Austria is BEAUTIFUL, southern Bavaria is BEATUIFL, so many open roads, twisting and turning through the most amazing pristine clean county side you will ever see.
When you cross the boarder into the Austrian Alpine mountains it is breathtaking how gorgeous the rolling grass covered hills are, how gracefully the sides of the mountains create smooth downs so subtle it makes you want to cry. the wild flowers that line the road side, quaint houses full of widow boxes with flowers in bloom, piles of wood stacked against the houses, all set in what seems like the scenery from the Sound of Music or Belle and Sebastian, or indeed Heidi!
well, in the end I found the hotel my brothers were staying at, but decided to push south into Italy.
It wasnt long until i was passed the boarder and into the Italian Alpine Mountains. Not much had changed, after crossing the boarder.
I decided to go off the beaten track and wind through villages and away from the main road once through the boarder and it was the best thing I ever did.
I found the most amazing little place to eat some lunch, at a family run restaurant where mum and gran and sisters were in the kitchen & daughter some & father running front of house. I had the best Ravioli EVER. This is where it is>>>>> Burgschenke Stube Pruno. google it. go there and eat the spinach Ravioli! Amazing food, found by luck. it went down well. I rode back on the bike up through a cracking set of twists and turns a long long long way up the mountain.
so many twists and turns, hairpins, and beautiful scenery all to take it whilst trying to be safe and enjoy the roads. tricky stuff, but you work out a way to do it all in the end and feel a bit better about your riding. I eventually came to a mountain pass a few thousand metres above sea level where there where many bikers and cyclists all having their fun in the mountains on a sunny day. I ride down the other side and made my way through the valleys and twists and turns until eventually I found myself in Verona! A gorgeous northern Italian city high also has its very own coliseum! I didn’t stay long, (theme of my trip!) and rode on to lake Garda for a quick look around. I ended up having a quick swim in it as it was so hot! After I had a relaxing cool drink at the bar opposite the lake. Then rode on to somewhere north of Bologna to a petrol station truck stop where I pitched my tent for the night. I grabbed some food, read my book and relaxed for the evening before dozing off.
In the morning i packed up camp and set off for Rome via the country roads. Again I found some beautiful twisty turns roads through the hills and villages of Northern Italy.