Cycling

Eurovelo 5 in 200 Words?

This is the fifth attempt at writing the content of this post; all previous efforts have disappeared before they arrive on the blog itself. I am wondering if it has anything to do with “upgrading” my browser to IE9…. Let’s try again this time in Firefox. Mmmm… seems to be working now.

As I was saying…

I have received an email from Doretta Vicini, one of the Vice-Presidents of the European Cycling Federation. She writes;

I’ll be speaking about Eurovelo in Siena during the Ciclomundi Festiva on the 25th September. I don’t have much time to read your blog, but I’d love a few comments on your part about your trip along the route 5.

That’s a challenge; let’s see if I can do it in under 200 words! Here goes;

When I started planning my cycle to Puglia, I wanted a route map and the Eurovelo 5 seemed to be the answers to my prayers; I never found one and actually, my trip was all the richer for not having done so! Following the general direction of the Eurovelo 5 (apart from missing out Brussels), I was able to tick off the destinations as prescribed but was left with the freedom of choosing the bits in between. The first leg, in England was familiar landscape and I was eager to actually step onto the continent; I did so at Boulogne and then headed south (and just a little bit east), more or less. Northern France was grey and undulating, reminiscent of northern England with dairy farms and dry stone walls. Luxembourg was the first real delight; a new country for me and far from the administratively functional city it is often depicted as. It has a fascinating history (and an excellent museum in which to tell it!). The Rhine Valley hid its main feature well; I didn’t see the river until I arrived at the Swiss border but the trip south was punctuated with some interesting stops en route in Strasbourg and Colmar. Cycling in Switzerland was remarkably flat; it is, after all a country built in the valleys. Only when I arrived in Altdorf and started climbing the Alps towards Andermatt and then the Gotthard Pass itself did I have to break into a sweat. But what a sweat! If you want to test out your calf muscles, you would find it difficult to beat the last few kilometres of switchback roads to the Alpine town of Andermatt. It was then all downhill… or so I thought. The cobbles of the southern side of the Gotthard Pass didn’t do my bike any favours and it was only with the help of some very accommodating Italian speakers in Switzerland and Italy itself that my journey was able to continue. The World needs the unbreakable spoke to be invented! The weather was still very northern European and it was to continue to be so until I arrived in Rome. The northern plain of Italy was easy but fascinating cycling; just a pity that the Italians have only sporadically invested in their road surfaces. A slight detour to Parma for more spoke-related repairs and then to the coast via the Passa della Cisa. Great to see the sea but I never actually swam in the Mediterranean. Then full steam along the coast, across Tuscany (the Palio was taking place – great! But not great with a bike…. I never got to see the fantastic Campo…). Rome was, err… eternal and the sun began to shine. Speeding south-east I passed the increasingly Greek-like landscape; Matera was a treat, as was my welcome in Puglia. The final day – an easy, downward ride to Brindisi – ended at the harbour lighthouse. If I had continued, I would have had to take that swim in the Med…

200 words? Failed miserably; just under 500! Hope that is OK Doretta. Have fun in Siena and make sure you have a look at the Campo for me. I will see it one day 🙂

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