5. Freewheeling. ( May 29)

The thing about being a granny on a long bike ride, is one never knows what might conk in. So far so good.
Early morning at the coffee bar in Vetralla you can have a whiskey corretto (in Italy it’s usually the other way around, an espresso with a dash of liquor).
Traffic was quite scary but the drivers are pretty good about giving us a wide birth.

We stick to the pilgrim route as much as we can, mostly gravel. Tricky on steep inclines where the recent storms have washed out gullies. There are no photographs of them obviously. My bike has very thin wheels, and I sit very high…great for looking over fences.

Made it to old Viterbo, which brags a very deep history. We went to the bike shop for a spare tube, one of the many prep things I forgot to do. We are still in Lazio, where the roads are shocking… and I’m not keen to get a puncture anywhere near those large white sheep dogs.

We pass pilgrims walking to St. Peters in Rome and we shout out ‘buon Camino!’  Everybody is in a good mood. We’re the only weirdo’s going north.

This is me looking like a poppy.
Simon is in charge of navigating this week. No warning from him about hills. One is pleasantly riding along and then you’re riding up to Montefiascone.

Awesome on an ebike, Simon had to push. The basalt flagstones are great for breaking in the seat. At one point the hill was so steep I thought I would flip over backwards. Had the battery set on Turbo. We reached the summit in time for lunch at 3pm. That icy cold beer went down in one long gulp! Lunch had to be a panino as all the restaurants were closed.2018-05-29_0009.jpg

From Montefiascone we went down to Bolsena, by way of the Cassia road, down the volcano rim to the lakeside is an exhilarating curvy tarred road through the ancient oak forest. My knees were a bit wobbly when we got off in Bolsena. Slow day, only 54 kms. 172 Kms so far on the trip.


Slept very well in a wonderfully clean Convent in Bolsena. The Mother Superior is 90 years old, and sat us down to tell us a long story about the history of the church here. Il miracolo (the miracle).

A little girl who lived in AD400, a martyr called Christina is buried there.

A priest from Bohemia came past on his travel back from Rome to Prague in 1200 and something, but he had doubts about his faith.

However, he celebrated the mass in the church, and when he broke the Hostie (consecrated bread) it began to bleed.  That expelled all doubt and since then all Catholics celebrate the Corpus Christie.


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Albert Einstein said: "Life is like riding a bicycle, to stay balanced you've got to keep moving". So to keep moving at my age, I'm wobbled off on my bike on the 26th May 2018. Starting from home in Rome and aiming for Oslo in Norway, to visit my family. (We are South African scatterlings). In a few words, I cycled up the spine of Italy along the hilly Apennines, across the Po valley and up over the Alps. Slightly west at Lake Constance to get into the Rhine Valley and heading up to Hamburg and then over to Denmark. A long haul up the west coast of Sweden into Norway and arrived in Oslo on the 24th July 2018. Admittedly it's much quicker to jet back and forth, but this time I'm going green, hoping to inspire others to ride their bikes too. E-bikes have made it possible to travel around much more easily, even for the unfit 'over-the-hill' grandmothers like me. Along the way I stopped to paint watercolour sketches, take photographs, visit beautiful towns. I hope to put this amazing adventure into a little book for those who fancy doing something similar.

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