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Supporting appealmobile on his world travels

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Slovenia to Santa Sofia

There was still the matter of fixing the drawings for Doris and buy a disposable camera for the trip before I left Slovenia and all those lovely people and set off to return to complete Italy, the southern bit, from Rome to Sicily and and then up to Pescara in the east, but once done I was off.
The bike was starting to show some worrying signs and started missing for long periods.
At one point I was travelling so slow I acted as a pacemaker for a couple of cyclists who kept pace with me for about 20 kms and I was going flat out.I eventually passed Venice and opted not to enter a I wanted to make as much in-roads before dark.

I stopped on a bridge over the large lagoon at the back of Chioggia, which is a little like Venice but less of a tourist trap than there. I climbed down to the waters edge for a piddle only to find a pair of trainers abandoned there which would provide me with a replacement for the battered ones I had worn all the way from England, They were a little tight but I was sure I had made a good find  so I made a quick change before setting off. I kept the others in case my new acquisitions weren't up to scratch.
I eventually settled for stopping at Porto Viro, a town I visited on the way to Venice where they sold a nice strong beer for 2 euro 50.

The weather started cooling down and I knew that rain was on it's way at some point in the night or the following morning. So after my strong beers I made sure I was under cover for the night.
I woke to a grey drizzly morning and after coffee set off for the mountains.
i reached Ravenna and took a right to lead through Forli in Emile Romagne. I was twenty kms out of Forli when I had a front end puncture. To make it worse I was on a bend and that makes already difficult handling a nightmare, but I managed to stay on the bike and my side of the road and avoid certain death by oncoming traffic.
I was fortunate to stop by a shop and a small village. The carpark of the shop had a large concrete block I could use to support the bike as I removed the wheel. Fortunately there was a bus stop where I only waited ten minutes for a two euro bus ride back to Forli.
The early dawn was too much for my throw away camera
I managed to locate a tyre repairs but as usual they had just started their two hour lunch break so had to bide my time with a beer of course. Two hours and thirty euros later I was on the way back to the bike, only to be greeted by thunderstorms. I hurriedly slung the wheel back into place and set off, but by now it was creeping into early evening and with the rain I was making slow progress on the road leading out in the direction of Firenza. It had all the hallmarks of Snowdonia rides I'd made in my early days. The valley I was riding through and up, was gloomy under the evening cloudy sky.

I reached a small village called Premilcuore. It was like a miniature version of Betws-y-Coed Deep river valley with houses built on the steep banks. The one thing it did have was a nice little bar and a bus shelter with a reasonable bench seat to sleep on. It was a cool evening and I as usual the bar doors were left open all evening so I was quite relieved to turn in and get into my sleeping bag. After coffees the following morning I walked across the bridge to the tourist office to look at a map of the area. I was already at the gateway to a national park so I mapped out a route in my mind and after another coffee set off into them there hills. It was still drizzly but seemed to be drying out a bit, and I was hoping for some spectacular panoramas en route.
The route I took went over the paso Braccina at 960 metres,

I stopped here to take photos with my disposable camera. As I was enjoying the limited view through the mist and low clouds, a van pulled up and started to set up a refreshment table. Apparently there was a cycle club ride passing over the pass not once but twice.

Climbing out of Cornolio
First stage of the climb from the dam
I then dropped down to Corniolo for a coffee and then over the paso ... which took me down to Ridracoli via Biserno. These were barely roads I was travelling and it was slow going especially the hill climbing.
I eventually reached the dam. I paid five euros thinking it was a toll, to travel across and southwards until it was explained that there was no route through, except for walkers.

They were kind enough to refund me the five euros after I explained I wasn't intending on visiting the dam.So a quick glance at the office map and I took the first right after leaving. It was a continuous climb on a rough trail, that went up and up and up and up until eventually, I broke through the trees and the cloud and could see peaks appearing and disappearing in the clouds as they rolled over the tops. It was absolute heaven and the only sound was the cucckoos and the insects buzzing which i mistook at one point for another moped. (click here to see the satellite view of the route).

I was up there for hours waiting to see little snatches of the beauty of the hills and got fleeting glimpse every now and then.

I tried to descend to Cassanova but the road was blocked to cars and was walkers only and finished up returning to the same point I was at on a couple of other explorations. I eventually made a descent to Strabatenza after catching some views of hills in sunlight. Unfortunately I had consumed all my shots of my disposable. After travelling all the way to the bottom of the peak a sign said the bridge was closed, so I returned to the branch where I forked and go around the block to reach it. I was under the impression that the road heading south ther would take me to Badia Prataglia. But again after riding a rough track for a number of miles the trail became walkers only.

It was then a turn around and go North to Santa Sofia, but not without stopping at a lovely roadside shack bar for a beer and good conversation with the owner and his wife and a friend of theirs, that I would later meet in Santa Sofia, a couple of hours later.
And so I arrived in Santa Sofia with little money due to the puncture with four days until pay day.

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