September 18, 2012 – Today we rise early because we know we have a long ride ahead of us: we want to reach Chioggia at the Adriatic Sea. It still takes us about two hours to get ready every morning and we finally sit on our bikes by 9am and leave beautiful Verona. We have a slow start along the river Adige through a natural reserve, or a jungle? Am I day-dreaming or are we already in India? Within 30 minutes I have about 20 mosquito bites and we decide to buy Autan, since Deet might be too aggressive for use in Europe.
By lunch time we cycled a bit more than 40km, which is not much given that we cycle through a very flat area. The weather is great, 26 degrees Celsius, little clouds, no wind. Today’s route is quite boring so far, long straight roads with little distractions alongside other than corn fields, apple trees (again) and industry.
Two hours later and approximately 35km farther we have another break with Italian espresso and pastries, knowing we still have a few kilometers to cycle. Johan estimates we have to cycle another 40km.
The landscape becomes much nicer again, with small vegetable gardens and nicer villages along the road. Most of the time we cycle on smaller roads, bike paths now become a luxury and we really need to concentrate on the traffic since there are a lot of speeding vans and trucks on the roads. This is when I finally start appreciating my small mirror (which is actually as embarrassing as white socks in sandals), because I see big trucks or speeding cars well ahead and won’t get caught by surprise.
As of kilometer 70 the first pain kicks in: it is no longer the legs, this time it is my neck. But I am not complaining just concentrating on the route and pedal, pedal, pedal….. At around 6pm and approximately 110km cycled, we take another break and decide what to do. By now we should have reached the coast, but looking at the map we don’t seem to make any progress. It is now that we realize that we calculated the distance with the wrong scale (there are two different scales on our map) and 1cm isn’t 2km but 4km! Great. Two handful of nuts and raisins and some more apple juice later we decide to continue as long as we can and hopefully still reach the coast. By now there is more pain: the bottom and the hands, but we’ll survive.
At kilometer 120 my saddle starts making funny noises – it is clear that not only I but also my bike wants to stop cycling, the earlier the better. I see an ‘agriturismo’, but we just continue. At 7pm we have to rearrange the luggage on the back so cars can see our backlights, it is getting dark early now. In the meantime we get some headwinds and I am cycling for a few kilometers in Johan’s slipstream until he gets too fast again for me. And we cycle and cycle and cycle until we finally see a sign to Chioggia telling us another 6km until we are there. Not a big relief for me, since by now also my legs don’t want to continue anymore. But I am strong I keep telling myself and just continue. Finally reaching the outskirts of Chioggia we realize that we cannot find a way into the city other than the motorway, so we turn again to find some hidden paths and another 20min later we are there. The city is very disappointing, totally run down, if you can say that from a city and I am glad I am not cycling alone.
By about 8.30pm we find a camping – a huge and horrible place with extremely weird people – where we can put up our tent, eat, shower and sleep. Another 20 mosquito bites later I lay on my mattress in my sleeping bag and listen all night to frogs jumping on our tent (Johan doesn’t believe this, but it is true, we both saw them walking through the sand before we went to bed and I could hear them because I was too exhausted to sleep).
In total we cycled 142km in more than 7 hours. My new record – we still have to beat Johan’s record of 160km.