One thing that soon becomes apparent on this type of ride is that it can be difficult to front up day after day for another long stretch in the saddle. I have found on all the previous such rides that, while the fitness of the group increases rapidly, it is also likely that some will develop miscellaneous aches and pains. Soon after we completed the long day into Camacchio, Irena explained that she was not feeling very well and would need the following day off the bike. Fortunately it was possible to arrange transport for both Irena and her bike so this did not constitute a huge problem. We are all hopeful that she will be able to resume her ride after a day to rest and recuperate. This also meant that our peloton would be reduced to only 5 riders for the longest day of the trip which would take us from Comacchio to the famous city of Ravenna. Along the way we would be riding through a wide variety of surroundings, from isolated wilderness areas to crowded beachside tourist meccas.It would also introduce our first off road sections.
The early part of the ride followed the lagoon for many kilometres. This consisted of wide open spaces with absolutely no shade. Although we had been hoping for a considerably cooler day, the long awaited cool change seems to be perpetually delayed. Although there were some early wispy clouds, these soon burned off and most of the day was again ridden in full sunshine. Looking around at the stark and desolate surrounds and the ruins of old buildings, it certainly did not look like most people would imagine Italy to be. To me it seemed more like some place in Eastern Europe, such as Romania or Bulgaria.
It was while we were riding on one particularly long flat section that Lionel (Alwyn, Mervin, Angus, Oscar ?) and I were riding side by side when we realised that we had not heard any chatter from the following riders for some time. We stopped to look around and found there was no sign of them. We pulled over and waited for 10 minutes and, when they still did not appear, we tried to call them on the phone. This was the first time we had no service so we had no alternative other to ride back to see what had happened to them. It turned out that Mary had suffered a puncture, no doubt due to the extended section of off road riding we had just completed. Fortunately John had repaired the puncture by the time we arrived, so our timing was absolutely perfect.
In the meantime I had problems of my own. A couple of days earlier I had suffered an irritating case of ticking coming from my bike. Every rotation of the pedals resulted in a loud click noise. Fortunately Josef had arranged for a replacement bike and, for the next 24 hours, I was able to ride in silence. Unfortunately misfortune chose to pay me a return visit by gifting me with another clicking noise to replace the one that had been taken from me. For the rest of the day my riding was once again accompanied by the bottom bracket counterpoint. I had no choice other than to just accept it. In life there will always be some things you can change and others that you have to learn to accept. Rather than let it ruin my ride, I chose to regard it as something humerous instead. My faithful tick will now presumably travel with me all the way to Florence.
After riding about 47 km we arrived at the seaside resort of Casalborsetti and settled into a wonderful restaurant situated right on the beach. After a couple of cappucinos (only 1.4 Euros each) and a lunch stop we were on our way again. In the next section we left the road and followed a forest path for several kilometres. It was a relief to be out of the sun and to enjoy the relative coolness of the forest.
We then caught a ferry across to Marina di Ravenna which soon answered the question as to where all the people had been. Here was a place similar to Torquay or Lorne, with dozens of fancy restaurants, resorts and expensive cars everywhere. Obviously a lot of Italians are still enjoying their vacations on the beach.
Finally our path turned inland and for the final 12 km we followed a wonderful bike path, all the way to the centre of Ravenna. This large city has a rich past, having served as the capital of the western Roman Empire and much later as the home to the famous Lord Byron. In fact our hotel is called the Hotel Centrale Byron, presumably because it is situated right in the very centre of the city. We certainly do not have to walk far to explore the place.
After dark I left the hotel to wander around the Centrale. It was a warm Saturday evening in Ravenna and the streets and outdoor restaurants were bursting with happy people. A jazz trio was playing in the nearby Piazza and a crowd had gathered to listen. It would have been even better if they could have played well. Since I was feeling hungry after the long day I decided to try out an exotic local delicacy. It was absolutely delicious and I enjoyed every mouthful. Apparently it was called a “Doner Kebab” and it cost me 5 Euros.