Cycling Europe Day 33: The Small Stuff

We haven’t yet discussed the bug situation.

I'm starting to think Italians have a thing about leaning towers. The Duomo in Portogruaro.

I’m starting to think Italians have a thing about leaning towers. The Duomo in Portogruaro.

You know how when you’re driving, insects manage to smash themselves in your windshield sometimes? Or how flying geese smash into the windshields of planes? Same thing happens while cycling. Except that it’s all kinds of flying bugs smashing into your face. And if you’re wearing sunscreen, like I do, they stick. Or if you’re breathing with your mouth open, they fly inside. I had a paroxysm of coughing today while cycling because a bug went straight into my windpipe. Sometimes they fly right between the openings in your helmet into your hair. Because I’m camping sometimes on this trip, I’m getting a double dose of bugs. I have to admit I’ve come to like the little critters. They are my company since I’m all alone these days. We’ve figured out how to get along with each other.

In Spain, everywhere I cycled I saw so many little creatures crossing the roads. I would think that if drivers knew what was happening under their tires, they wouldn’t be driving at all. I was constantly swerving to avoid killing bugs and caterpillars. I haven’t seen many bugs on the roads in Italy, though. I wonder if Italian bugs just have more “street smarts” than Spanish bugs by avoiding roads altogether.

I had another road sign situation today. I was cycling out of Treviso and heading towards Portogruaro. The signs said while still inside Treviso that Oderzo, a town en route to Portogruaro, was 24km away and that Portogruaro was 54km away. I thought that was perfect. I’d have a short cycling day again. Couldn’t ask for better. But as I cycled towards Oderzo and got nearer to it, eventually seeing a sign that said it was 19km away, Portogruaro was moving away from me no matter how hard I tried to get closer. When Oderzo was 19km away, Portogruaro was STILL 54km away. It seems that I eventually was able to pick up enough speed to be faster than Portogruaro. It was actually 65km away from Treviso.

On the way, I found a bike repair shop. I had been looking for one for a few days to fill my tires with air. I went in and had one of those conversations with the bike repair guy where I speak no Italian, he speaks no English, but we both understand each other perfectly well. He wanted to know everything: where I was from, where I started my cycle, where I was going next, where I planned on stopping, was I REALLY doing this on my own, no way I could be 45 years old, you’re Muslim?, your religion permits?, have I had any problems?, have people treated me well? He was tickled silly every time I answered a question. He just could not believe it. And I was tickled silly that he was so impressed. He filled my tires with air and, without asking, oiled my chain, then completely refused to take any money. Have I mentioned how much I love the Italians?

I’ve done a ridiculous amount of traveling in the past ten years or so; mainly because of work but also for tourism. I easily became accustomed to immediately settling into a hotel room as if it were home. And when it was time to leave, I’d feel a tinge of anxiety about leaving “home”. That last part has changed on this trip because I’m somewhere new every day. I settle in just as easily, but when I leave, it feels like I’m coming back, just that when I “come back” it will be a different hotel or camp in a different town.

Before this trip, I wondered what I would do about my bike when I got to a hotel. I imageworried that some hotels wouldn’t accept me because of the bike. I had heard of the concept of bike-friendly hotels from my husband and wondered if that meant there were bike-unfriendly hotels. I stayed in one hotel that officially labeled itself as bike-friendly in Girona, Spain. They had a special locked chamber in their garage to park bikes securely. Beyond that, I’ve just popped into any hotel with my bike and have never had a problem. Some let me take my bike to my room, some put it in the luggage room, some have me lock it in the hotel garage, or lock it to the bike racks in the back of the hotel. I’ve walked into almost all the hotel receptions with my bike. It’s really not been a problem. I hope that continues.

In camps, I always find a tree next to my tent and lock the bike to that. All the camps I’ve been to have had really good security. I’ve been really impressed.

Portogruaro is a really nice little town. There’s nothing particularly special about it. Almost all Italian towns I’ve been to have a central old town. They are always nice to visit. This one was too. It’s been a nice, relaxing day. I’ve managed to eat well and nap: exactly what my body needs to be able to keep going just a little bit longer.

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3 comments

  1. I enjoy your posts. You address many of the practical problems – bugs, the need to pee, finding food, occasional boredom, keeping your bike safe – and at the same time discuss more philosophical topics. I hope you keep pedalling a while longer.

  2. I am happy to find people that visited my town and that enjoyed it.
    I am courious to know who was the repair guy (because one of the few in Portogruaro is also my neighbor!) 🙂
    Enjoy the rest of your trip! All the best
    Valentina

    1. Hi Valentina,
      This was a repair shop about 10-15km outside of Portogruaro. Younare very lucky to live in such a lovely little town!

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