Ride Stats: 225.3 miles – 14:02: Moving Time – 4:16 stopped 1,639 ft Elevation 16.0 mph avg
3.30am alarm, where am I, why am I in bed naked with a stranger in cycling gear, how much wine did I drink last night!. Oh yes it’s TCR day 5 and we have 4 guys to coordinate getting bikes out of a locked garage and through a security gate. After a slight concern when pressing the gate release button did nothing we were released to go our separate ways. The strange beauty of the TCR is that its perfectly natural to strike up new relationships then just ride off leaving riders to overcome any problems they have without feeling pangs of guilt. On the road for 4:15, Doug set off for Milan in search of maps to overcome his GPS file errors, while I watched team 190 effortlessly power away from my steady pedalling rate.
This area of Italy, the Po valley follows the river and Turin was unavoidable, there was a need to get it over with before it got too busy. Even so when I spotted Trevor and Johns bikes outside a café before 6am the morning re-fuel took precedence. An Introduction to Italian pre-work café culture, a great selection of pastries good coffee and almost exclusively a pretty host, loving this country already. Wasting nearly 40 mins here seemed like a luxury but it set up a good base for a long day.
Dispensing with Turin relatively comfortably, looking at the tracker there was a band of riders all close together blissfully unaware they were not alone. From here I summised I had a more inland route than most so lets try and compare progress. 27 – Henri van Winkoop 56 – Paul Toigo 152 – OUAJA Stephane 133 – Daniel Fisher 137 – Andrej Zaman 16 – Jonathan Elliot and Team 190 all passed Turin in close proximity. Poor Doug was obviously struggling and eventually scratched due to wasting too much time in the cities.
Midday Another great coffee stop, regularly cruising at 20mph on the tribars was rewarded with guilt free stops, I also stocked up on food and drink to make sure the Italian afternoon lock down could be ridden through. As others stuck with the Po, I headed towards Lake Garda via Lodi and Crema.
At some point I passed one rider cooling off, and had to have an hours escape from the 35 deg furnace in a McDonalds but generally the day was as unexciting as expected in a valley.
As I passed the 200 mile target easily it was still light and I tried to stick to my early stop schedule. It was only then that I noticed that this part of Italy is locked up as tight as a drum. Every building industrial or domestic was surrounded by massive iron fences, a covered alcove of any sort could not be found. The area around Valeggio with the canals feeding water from the lakes is a Mosquito haven and it was hard enough breathing here at dusk, let alone stopping. Eventually close to the Verona airport a quiet shopping area offered minimal shelter, essential as the skies looked very laden.
Sure enough I was woken to very heavy rain hitting the bivy, the wind meant I was not undercover, the bivy was almost floating, I squeezed in to hug the wall and just tucked everything away as much as possible. I survived but it meant tomorrow would be a drying day again. Not many photos today which pretty much summed up the head down battle to get back on track after the short day 4.
Lessons learned: Open source maps of Italy are great and have all the water taps marked on. Italian café culture is superb. ALWAYS sleep undercover.
The Party Line (187/day for Fri finish): Great day and the daily average boosted to 204.6 to give a buffer.
TCR Continued Day 6