Leaving the Lido and Heading to the Dolomites

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Another Great Day Cycle Touring

What a wonderful day we’ve had! There were a few curly moments, – which I’ll touch on momentarily. But, as I sit here tapping away on my keyboard reflecting on the day that’s been, I can’t help but revel in what a wonderful day we’ve had.

Things didn’t start off wonderfully. Even before we gathered for breakfast. I happened to be up early – it turned out Michelle from Connecticut  was too – when a monster came to town. Thankfully it wasn’t to the Lido – just to that mega tourist magnet across the lagoon. I had just been thinking that Venice might be quite nice at this time in the morning when the Alien Invasion (apologies to Archie Roach) arrived:”

Alien Invasion: the first cruise ship of the day arrives into Venice

My first thoughts were: ‘Oh you poor bloody Venetians! Here are 1000 tourists arriving before breakfast.’ And then tw0 more cruise ships arrived within the next hour. Yes, maybe most Venetians make their living through tourism these days, but maybe a better balance could be struck? Anyway back to the bike tour.

Getting Underway

As one would expect, we were all as keen as mustard this morning to get underway. Here are a few glimpses of the enthusiasm that pervaded post breakfast …

Michael and Louise from Canberra/Sydney: do they look keen?
Michelle from Connecticut and Ellisa from Melbourne/Hong Kong
Peter ~ just oozing enthusiasm
Ellisa, Harold, Peter, Dianne, Michelle and Wayne waiting for Samwise to drop the flag

A Setback? Naah! Merely a Minor Inconvenience

It seems that we have the happy circumstance of being a magnificently positive group. The arrangement – verified well beforehand – was for us to be at the ferry terminal 15 minutes in advance so that we could all get on the ferry and go to the mainland to commence the day’s ride. As it turned out we weren’t all allowed to board at once and it took three trips before we were all able to cross to the mainland. It was a potentially galling situation when were were all so keen to get on the bikes. But there was not one dummy spit (sensibility alert: rude language!) amongst the whole group. As a group, we were delayed about an hour. Enough to be a bit frustrating and for the day to start heating up. Remarkably, everyone remained sanguine and we just got on with it. ‘Hmm,’ I thought. ‘This is good’. In fact, the vibe was so good that I found myself wishing, not for the first time, that the whole group wasn’t continuing on the the finish in Fontevraud.

At Last! Going For Real

Once on the road we formed up into a couple of groups: the first two ferry crossings and a motley crew from the third. There was another delay when we arrived at a little canal and the barriers were down preventing us from proceeding. It was quite interesting though. Here are a couple of photos to illustrate …

While our front group was waiting the back group arrived, with Wayne – our version of perpetual motion – still present.

Well hello Wayne!

Okay we thought, the boats have gone by, when do the barriers go up?

Of course, as soon as we were able to make our way across the canal we didn’t see Wayne again until we got to the the hotel at the end of the day.

The first 80 kilometres of the day were very flat, but still not without interest. Every once in a while we’d cruise through a small village which, like this one below, invariably had a fairly impressive church steeple …

Another village; another lovely steeple

It was fun rolling along the flats …

Rolling along the flat

… as  we took turns on the front. Here’s Peter pacing us along …

Peter powering along

Homing in on our Overnight Stop

Of course as the terrain got a bit lumpier in the last 20 kilometres or so we started to break up into groups of two and three. Things got even greener than they already were, and we looked ahead to the mountains rearing up in front of us. At this point Dianne and I were riding along with Peter and Elissa. On a little rise they got a little ahead of us and stopped to take photos, which was great for us as Peter took this great picture of the two of us riding together …

We are into the hills now!

It was clear where we’d be going the next day. As unlikely as it looked, the lead up into Passo San Boldo seemed the only feasible breach of the precipitous and fearsome barrier in front of us. But all thoughts of that could wait for tomorrow morning. This evening we had Prosecco to drink …

What a great group day on the bike: cheers everyone!

After a celebratory glass we strolled a few minutes down the hill into town where we all shared a table and a delicious, hearty meal to energise us for tomorrow when we will climb into the heart of the Dolomites. The food was great and so abundant that we unanimously agreed to skip dessert so we could get off to bed for a bit of renewal before the challenges of tomorrow.

As we were strolling up the cobblestoned street leading to our hotel I paused moment to capture this centuries old scene of religious devotion …

History alive in the foothills of the Dolomites

And now, as my eyelids droop and my body tells me to prepare for a challenging  but wonderful day tomorrow I will bid all a good night.

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