Again it is amazing what a difference 24 hours (and a hack saw) makes. By day 11 Irena had started to struggle with the long days in the saddle, riding a bike that was a little too big for her. We had already lowered the seat to the lowest position that was possible with that seat post, but she still had to stretch from side to side to turn the pedals. We decided to take matters into our own hands and go looking for an hack saw to cut off a few centimetres. Not off Irena, but off her seat post.
This modification seemed to make all the difference. After 24 hours off the bike and the lower seat she was ready for action once more and our peloton was restored to its full size again.
Since this was a very quiet Sunday morning, we were able to ride out of Ravenna on deserted roads. The weather was also a few degrees cooler which gave a most welcome relief from the sustained heat of the last week. As we left the town we could not help but notice the contrast with the regions we had cycled through over the past couple of days. Gone were the wide open spaces and deserted houses. We were now in a much more developed region and the farms were generally much better maintained.
It was interesting to see the huge size of some of these farmhouses, although many only seemed to have a few habitable rooms with the rest left to go to ruin. It was common to see sections of roof that had just collapsed into the inside of the house. Apparently the area must have been significantly more prosperous than it is now. When looking for the suitable word to describe these houses, the one that came to mind was “distressed”.Obviously anyone feeling the need to take on a project could certainly buy a suitable place here.
At the 40 km mark we stopped for lunch at Faenza. This is a sprawling town with a large cobblestoned central piazza. There were only a few people out and about and we settled in a suitable eatery in the shade while we enjoyed a cup or two of cheap coffee and a sandwich.
After lunch the road began to climb steadily and, for the first time, we started to encounter groups of serious cyclists. Some were riding singly and others were in groups of up to 8 riders. As we passed we gave them a wave and an “Aussie Aussie Aussie”. Obviously these cyclists are attracted to this region to strengthen their legs on the hills.
After a final steep descent and corresponding climb we arrived at the delightful small town of Brisighella. The town is surrounded by mountains and we could see several imposing castles perched on the clifftops. The road into town is bordered by beautiful towering trees which gave the place a very welcoming feel. We were also interested to see the numerous signs warning of ice on the roads. Obviously this place must get cold in the winter months.
Our home for the evening is the La Meridiana Hotel, a large but thankfully not too distressed building on the outskirts of town. It was also the first rooms we had that did not have either air conditioning or TVs. However the water was hot and the cool mountain air blowing in my open window gave the best night’s sleep I have had so far.
Tomorrow we complete our Italy ride by riding into the famous city of Florence (Firenze).