Day 25 – San Lazzaro to Citta di Castello

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Dinner last night was great. It’s a pizza restaurant, and it had dozens on the menu – divided into white – no tomato – and red – with tomato. I had a white pizza with spinach and mushrooms, followed by a creme caramel, washed down with 375 cl of red wine. Nice. Italians tend to eat late – the restaurant didn’t open till 7:30 pm – so it was 9:00 by the time I’d finished. The restaurant was just filling up then; I was amazed to see slight Italian women eat a full pizza – I’d only just managed to finish mine.

I slept like the dead, woke up at 6:30 am. By the time I’d showered and packed it was 7:30, so I went downstairs for breakfast – I think I was the only person who had stayed overnight – I got a coffee, three sweet cakes, and a “juice”. sugary sweetness, but only worth a 3. I stepped outside to test the weather – cool, with an edgy wind. No rain yet.

On the road by 8:30 – heavy rain forecast for mid afternoon; I wanted to be in Citta di Castello before the rain, if possible.

I’m following the Via Flaminia, one of the old Roman roads from back in the day (the only other available route is an autostrada – no bikes allowed, so no choice,  really. A fantastic day’s cycling. Downhill for the first couple of km to Furlo. then a long, steady climb for the next 50 km.

But this isn’t a Croatian climb; Croat hills are built on the assumption that you have an infernal combustion engine with you; these are graded to an older, more gentle standard; one of foot, and mule, and marching men. Along this route, for several centuries, Rome’s legions marched, maintaining the Empire’s rule. In one spot
the road was so narrow that traffic lights imposed a one-way system for over a kilometre. Some stunning views, and some serious leg work; I never had to stop and push, but the climb was fairly relentless, and my body was loving it, almost fully recovered.

I stopped for lunch at Apecchio – two slices of white pizza and coffee, and pushed on.

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At the 50 km mark I hit the crest, and started the downhill run into Citta.
I thought I’d got a puncture in the rear tyre, as I could feel a slight noise as the wheel turned, as if the valve stem was hitting the ground; I pulled over, and found that the rear wheel’s rim had somehow – I have no idea how – flared out on one side for about 3 inches, and the tube had blown – no seal for the tyre at that point.

The bike was unrideable, the rain had started, and I was still 10 km from town – around 2-3 hours pushing. I waited, hoping for a truck I could flag down, when a young
woman driving a Fiat hatch stopped. Fluent English, she asked if I was OK – I explained the problem, we packed the bike (took both wheels off) into the back, and she took me into town. The first hotel we found in the centre was the hotel Tiferno – it’s four star, but it had a room, so I booked in – the rain was really heavy, and I didn’t want to drag a broken bike around town while I found something cheaper. Her name is Alice; she wouldn’t let me give her anything, just said that she hoped that anyone would have done the same. If you recognise her say hi for me 🙂

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The wheel is broken, for sure. It might be the weight of the panniers, but they’ve been on for three trips now, so I have no idea what caused it – it’s like I’ve smashed into a rock, but I think I would have noticed.

Tomorrow is Monday, so I’ll find a bike shop, and see how I go from there. hopefully it won’t take more than a couple of days.

The hotel Tiferno may be 4 star – it’s got a gym, a spa, sauna and other stuff – but it relies on “free hot spot” for it’s wifi. It’s truly woeful -stuff fails to load or dies midway through – it’s unusable. I did manage to get a facebook post out there, which will ensure Rosalie knows I’m OK. Took several goes; mail just won’t load at all. How did we cope pre-web? My bike is in it’s storage room, so I’m stuck at this one till I get the wheel sorted, That’s today’s job.

Update – the bike shop in the centre just sells stuff; no workshop. I took my wheel to Bikeland, about 5 km away – Closed on Mondays. Next bike shop is 30 km away, in Arezzo. Internet has been reset, all is good. Back to my hotel, where I’ve added two more nights….

More to come.

See you down the road.

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