Wednesday, 30 May 2012

From Barcelona to Tehran: Day 28

Day 28: From Capaccio Scallo to somewhere near Lago Sarino in Italy

May 27, 2012; Distance covered today: 95 Km; Total: 1829 Km

Without having enough sleep, I left the spot I spent the night at 5:30 am. I was awake before 5. The road was full of debris, gravel, and broken branches. The storm last night had swept the whole area. A little further, I saw some hail stones on the sides of the road. Anyways, I was glad that all went fine with my tent and the stuff. 

It was really cool to bike in the very early morning. The fresh air and the smell of rain added to this pleasure. Soon I arrived in Agropoli. The scenery was getting better and better. Instead of hills, there are mountains now. I was so excited that I got lost at one point. Instead of turning right along the coast, I turned left, and again, I found myself on a highway. I looked at the map and realized that it is too late to double back. I would waste a lot of my time and energy, so although it was illegal, I kept riding on the highway. It was pretty boring. Somewhere in the middle of the highway, police found me and kicked me out. Fortunately, they found me when there was an exit just right there. I exited and happened to be riding in some very small villages. Then it got so much beautiful. I had been climbing for a couple of hours now so I was expecting to coast down very soon. I was right. After two villages, I was coasting down and I saw some of the most beautiful views of the sea.

I met an English cyclist on the main road. His name was Grayam. He had been in Iran with lots of  good memories in the 80’s. He regretted that he was given only a two-week visa. He had started from the south and was cycling up to Switzerland. He looked like 60 years old, but when he shook hands with him, he was a bone crusher. 

I got to Sapri at about 1 pm. This would be my last point in the east coast. I should cut across Italy now. I stopped at a gas station to ask if it is OK to take the road I thought was OK to ride on toward Brindisi. Then the same police man who kicked out of highway showed up and I asked him about it. He acted very arrogantly, like a father giving directions to his sun. And I could feel that the gas station staff were afraid of him. I thought it as not a good sign when people are afraid of the police who are supposed to maintain peace. 

When the policeman asked me where I was going, he laughed and showed me the high mountains and said, “it’s a long way”. He was actually making fun of me, or meaning like, “you are not gonna get there for sure. Good luck!”. 

I had two pieces of pizza and hit the road. I started climbing. The climb took me a long time, 4 hours. A light rain also had started. Then I was coasting down real fast. After 15 minutes or so, I was at a fork. Left was Lago Negro and right was Lago Serino and all the other towns the policeman had written down on my notebook to pass. I was thinking, “why should I go to Lago Negro on the right when all the other towns are on the left?” So I turned right. I rode very fast for some 10 minutes. All the climbing that I had done for 3 hours passed in a whim. I then faced with another fork: left was Lago Serina, but it was still going down toward a big, steep valley and in front of me, even without riding down yet, was a huge mountain. That meant if I were to take that road down toward Lago Serino, I would have to climb that monster up again. 

I stopped a car and asked the driver for direction. He advised me to double back and go to Lago Negro, and then go to Lago Serino! I told him that I was up there very close to Lago Negro. I didn’t want to climb all that way back. 

I went down the huge valley.

Soon, I was climbing, and climbing, and climbing some of the steepest roads I had ever ridden on. Every 50 miters, I had to stop to catch my breath, every 50 minutes. 

It was too much for a day. I was very tired; I hadn’t slept the night before, I hadn’t had good food, and now this monstrous mountain. I had to call it quits. I had to find a place to spend the rest of the afternoon and the night. It was about 6. I was in the middle of small villages. How could I find a place here? And how could I climb more with this condition?
My Spot for the Night

I saw a playground in one of the villages. I parked the bike and went there to check it out. I pretended that I was going there for a washroom break. It was actually a very good spot. It was Sunday afternoon and not many people were around. That was that. I pitched up my tent, had a mini shower with soap and cooked some good spaghetti. Then I had time to write for my blog off line. And soon I was in dreamland. 

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