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Tuesday, 30 September 2008

DIA 329-332 - Italia: The Land of Lycra

Split - Ancona-Jesi-Gubbio-Foiano de Chiana-Siena Dt = 12948 Km

We catch a night ferry from Split to Ancona in Italy and wake up in Europe. I try not to contemplate the next mountain range we have to ride over - the Appenines. Luckily, there is not too much time lost in contemplation since we ride over the Appenines in a day. I am still not sure how that happened, but we came shooting down the side of a mountain into rolling hills around late afternoon.

The next day is spent cruising along a valley. This is where we start blending with a crowd. It is Sunday and the hardcore Italian cyclists are out and about, zooming past us at great speeds, clad in full-body lycra with plenty of publicity across their chests and the usual clashing of colours. So we do not blend quite as well as we do in my imagination, but at least they are on bicycles! They shout out a 'ciao' as they become specks on the horizon.

In fact, it is not just the Tour de France contenders who ride bikes in this country, it is everyone. Which makes a wonderful change. Cyclists have been few and far between since India, and here in Italy we are accepted on the roads as opposed to being chased off them by buses and trucks. In little Italian villages every age group pedals about, although some nonnas have electrified their bikes, so they whizz past with only a few desultory pedalling actions. The villagers tend not to cycle in lycra, however. The lycra club is reserved for males who are capable of cycling a 10 second kilometre.

So the roads are narrow in Italy as well, but we all fit. It is still a novelty hearing car horns which are not directed at us. The other novelty is drinking a mid-morning coffee that is not so strong that it has an amphetamine effect for the rest of the day (In the Balkans, everyone is completely wired on coffee!). Italy is truly a civilised cycling destination.

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