Day 11 – In Which we Pedal the Po (and my ticks go away)

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday my ride was plagued by a repetitious ticking noise from the bottom bracket of my bike. Although I tried my best to pretend it was not a big deal – in fact it was a niggling irritation. A bike is the most efficient form of transportation ever invented, but when it makes untoward noises, it can also be a source of mental torture.

When we met Josef yesterday afternoon I mentioned my problem and this morning he arrived at our hotel with a replacement bike. A short test ride showed that this one was smooth and virtually silent (just the way that a bike should be).

Our night had been spent at the impressive Hotel Stella d’Italia in Adria. This was not only an imposing and stately looking hotel, but it was in a street of stately homes suggesting that this was where the old money was in this town. It was slightly macabre that a couple of these huge homes looked like they had not been lived in for years (checkout the photos below).

The hotel was a genuine 4 star hotel but it did have a few shortcomings. The lock on my door fell off when I was closing the door for the last time, the water in my bathroom basin would not empty and the air conditioning gave about as much air flow as a flatulent sparrow. The breakfast was also very disappointing compared to the sumptuous offering from the Grande Italia in Chioggia.

The biggest challenge we faced today was to find the correct route out of Adria. Somehow when we asked for directions, instead of a simple instruction we had a 15 minute lecture from a helpful local. We battled our way up and down busy streets, over bridges, round roundabouts and still got lost. It was only when we consulted the GPS we realised that we were on the wrong road entirely. Fortunately after a few adjustments to the route we resumed the correct path and escaped the traffic.

Although we were hoping for a cooler day, today turned into another mirror image of all the previous days. We are rapidly growing an impressive array of red noses and pink legs as we ride under the strong Tuscan sun. Within a few kilometres we joined an amazing bike path along the wide Po river. The surface was as smooth as a baby’s bottom and made for wonderful cycling. The path was elevated as it followed the levee bank for many kilometres, giving us a panoramic view of the river and the (mostly) run down farm houses along the way. Without the ticks that had followed my bike the previous day, I was able to thoroughly enjoy the sensation of rolling along in silence.

We stopped for lunch at a seaside resort town of Lido di Volano. Italians obviously love to bake themselves black in the sunshine and many showed the distinctive signs of premature ageing caused by their lack of sun smarts. Apparently the slip slap slap message was not popular in this part of the world.

After lunch we had another 27 or so km to ride and we were feeling the combined effects of the heat, the head wind and the fact that this was our longest day in the saddle so far. We had a couple of roadside drinks breaks before finally reaching the quaint town of Commachio. With its narrow central canal and a couple of gondolas, it was a bit like a vastly more modest version of Venice.

Our dinner was taken right outside the hotel so we only had a few metres to return to our rooms.