18. How to ride in heaven. (June 15)

First of all, the man did not make another appearance.

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At Burgusio, where I escaped the man and spent the night, there is the magnificent Marienburg Monastery. We have visited before thanks to Susanne, Simon’s sister. Incredible to see, the highest Benedictine monastery in Europe. The library there has recently been renovated and the book collection is vast. Architecture and technology have come together here in a brilliant way.

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A perfectly smooth road, mostly to yourself, that winds downhill through floral meadows and cool forest glades. Heaven?

 

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Miles of cycle track winds down from the lakes of the Reschen Pass, passing over the border into Austria. The villages along the way are perfectly kept, with bright flowers, window decor, and copious roses. I didn’t get pictures today, due to reluctance to stopping on a downhill.
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My bike is actually facing the wrong direction in the shot, I turned and came back to take the picture for the sign in the background.

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See what I mean, just heavenly!
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Then things got crazy. It was all a bit wasted on me being so old, but the youth would absolutely love going down a super twisty road, dropping meters per second into a raging ravine. The beginning of the Inns river. Wild noise!!

The road turned left for St. Moritz and all those fancy Swiss peaks, but I went right through a terrifying ravine, on a road, where the cliffs went directly up into the sky. My fancy new polaroid glasses tend to enlarge things and make them more vivid. Cars travelled at a lot more than 100 kph. In the non-tunnel roofed-road-thing to prevent stones from falling on your head, the noise was extreme.

Maybe I’ve had too much forestry-quiet lately.

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I didn’t bother to put on my wide-angle lens for the valley,  as photos don’t do it justice.

It’s simply awesome. Not “oh AWESOME!!” …but awesome with your mouth hanging open and your brain doing expansive reorganising to fit the visuals, and your heart skipping beats because the raw power of the universe is present.

You become the little jelly bean you really are, a tiny bag of complexity wrapped in a very fine membrane, creeping along on a bicycle.

The river is this raging torrent of white water that echoes off the cliffs which are balancing blocks of rock that, if even a small one should fall it would turn you into a fossil instantly.

I really admire the people who have lived in these mountains, they are super humans. As for the cows, they all have brass bells around their necks and stand with their sides against the grass the graze. They look like stickers on a green wall.
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There are many cyclists on the pass, mostly couples (wives on ebikes) or fleets of racers (mixed gender). Quite a few women day-riding, but always in pairs or more.

I have not seen any solo female bikers doing long distance.
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Landeck. Simon made it sound as if it were just around the corner. Thought I might have lunch there. 85kms later @ 17:00 and there I was flat out exhausted again. It was beautiful all the way, and the bike tracks are amazing….but almost 5 hours on the seat….

Found a hotel. Nice big room, with dinner and breakfast included. I was the only one in the dining room at 18:00. The manager is very chatty and knowledgeable, he worked on the QE2. I presume as a chef, as he was very knowledgeable about food.

Usually around mid-afternoon I stop to check (on my phone app) for a room on booking.com. I try to get the cheapest one, but they all begin at around 50 Euro. I prefer the places recommended for their “especially clean rooms”. Most expensive was 80 Euro which was in Trento at the Everest Hotel. All the places I have stayed have lovely new bathrooms, with good showers, and little bottles of fragrant shower gel. Most noticeable after a sweaty day.

I know some people think you just sit on an ebike and go places.

A long shower is a big highlight of the evening, before any fussing with photo downloads. My skin is completely brown on some bits and cream on others, like a giraffe. I would take a picture of my foot stripes, but hehe, maybe tomorrow. My nose is dangerously tanned. My legs are shaping up a bit. I think.

The food has been great. Every evening I’ve been lucky with restaurants or hotels where the food is decent. A little glass of wine is necessary to relax after all the bumping and steering and pedalling. As for choosing, I have noticed that pasta is the easiest thing to digest, and I have no problem gulping down a good crunchy salad. Difficult to finish a whole portion though. Today for lunch I had half a power bar and felt perfect.

The rest of the evening is spent downloading the photos, fixing them a bit and writing this blog. Usually I chat to Simon, my kids or friends on whatsapp, so haven’t felt lonely yet. It has been 3 weeks of cycling and staying at a different place each night.

I am so grateful to Simon for sponsoring me, and for helping me navigate. This trip is a luxury beyond measure!

 

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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.

6 thoughts on “18. How to ride in heaven. (June 15)

  1. Fascinating reading Leanne, you HAVE to write a book afterwards, Im sure it would be a best seller!!! Keep safe. Big hug Maggs xx

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  2. Your descriptions of this section are written as usual,beautifully, with heaven being part of the universe, jelly bean! Would be wonderful to join you, but just not possible. Loving every minute

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  3. Enjoying so much Your daily blog – it’s almost like paddling behind You! Photos are stunning!
    The Journey is the destination….

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