July 20 – Lienz, Austria to Brunico, Italy (Distance cycled 73.2 kms*)
“Today is not going to be good day for you,” said Emma, our 89-year old landlady for the past week, with her thick German accent.
“Thanks for the curse, you witch”, I think to myself.
It is the first day of our cycling trip, with our final goal to be to cross the Italian/French border on our rickety old city bikes, that even the bike rental company didn’t want. It was drizzling. Not pouring. But enough to make us apprehensive, and neither of us were interested in Emma’s words of encouragement.
We were wearing our raincoats, and our backpacks were bungee corded to the baskets on the back of each of our chariots. We looked retarded.
However, we were starting our new adventure within the adventure, and we were both determined to make a go of it.
Eleven kilometers into our 73 kms for the day, we were realizing that this wasn’t so bad at all. We were both thrilled to see how we were going accomplish this incredible feat…..what an amazing day!!!!
Cue the flat tire…..Shawna’s back one.
(no big deal, I had been paying attention when the bike guy explained how to change it)
Cue the rain increasing in intensity.
10 minutes in, I wasn’t as confident at my tire-changing ability as I thought….
20 minutes in however, after a few stressful moments between us, the job was done. Fortunately there was one other cycler on the road that day, and he lent us his air pump, as the one the guy at the rental shop “threw in” wasn’t anything more than a hollow plastic tube.
Thal was 2 kms away, and we pedaled there for a few coffees to wait out the rain.
The rain didn’t stop, but we had to move forward. We rewrapped our luggage in garbage bags, and loaded them onto the bikes, only to find
Shawna’s tire was flat again…..
No one in this town could help us, and my tire-changing confidence was shot. So begrudginly, we jumped on the train and rode 33kms to San Candido, Italy.
At the local bike shop next to the train station, the tire was re-repaired. I am happy to tell you that it took himlonger than it took me to change the tire. The only difference being that his tire had air in it, so I suppose he gets the win.
By this time already we were marginally annoyed. What the hell were we getting ourselves into??
The rest of the day however was incredible…..
The rain stopped. In some situations the sun almost popped out. The Italian countryside was outstanding, rolling hills, enourmous mountains in the background, and small cities and villages along the way. There were a few inclines, but nothing we couldn’t handle.
We rolled into Brunico, incredbily thrilled that we had made it through our first day alive.
We were ravenous, and the pizza we ordered (as well as the wine) was finished in moments. Our very first Couchsurfing host, Jakob, met us at the cafe. Jakob and his Polish friend, Aga, went out for supper with us, where we enjoyed a few beers as well as a great meal.
Then back to the flat, where we had one more drink before going to bed.
It started off rough, but the journey has begun. We are tired. We are dirty. We are pretty damm pleased with ourselves.
(sidenote: Although we took the train from Thal to San Candido, we had cycled this exact route in its entirety as a part of our training only 2 days previously, so we are counting it in our totals….I hope you are okay with that)