Cycling From The Unfamiliar To The Familiar

After my enforced day off it feels just like the evening before you return to work after having been sick. I am now more or less sure that I wasn’t suffering from dehydration after all and that my problem was a bug that I had picked up somewhere. Most likely at the campsite on Pag (see cycling days 19 & 20). The symptoms of dehydration once I heard about them on Twitter and read up a little in the brief summary given in my first aid pack didn’t really match the problems that I was having. That said, it has been a useful educative experience all round. When I cycled to Italy in 2010 I didn’t really have to contend with hot temperatures until I was south of Rome when the clouds parted and the sun started to shine. On this trip it has been constant blue skies for the last (very nearly) four weeks and high temperatures to match. It was particularly hot on Wednesday, the day when I felt quite uncomfortable in the saddle. Those high temperatures are forecast to continue for the next couple of days and the advice that everyone has been able to give me on Twitter and via the comments on this site have been very useful and will be taken on board. I think that I was drinking enough water and in the last week or so I had started to supplement my intake of water with sugary drinks such as Fanta but I do need to be careful that I am also replacing my salts which, I think, are at risk of being washed through my system. I am told that salts in the body help retain fluid with the body (which makes sense) which in turn hopefully reduces the sensations of continuous thirst. In reality, although that I have been given some good recipes for mixtures of drinks that would help me (all of them very gratefully received), the nature of this kind of trip makes preparing such concoctions quite difficult. If I do see sachets of powder that I can add to my water I will certainly invest in some of them – when I get to Italy I’ll be looking out for the first Decathlon or other sports shop that I can buy some – but haven’t been able to find anything here in the local supermarkets in Croatia. I did buy a sports drink today (similar to but not Lucazade) and it tasted OK. If I see it en route I’ll perhaps buy again. As for my back issues, I’m hoping that the flatness of northern Italy will help me out on that score although I do expect some climbing again tomorrow as I finally escape the eastern Adriatic coast, head through Slovenia and finally arrive in Italy at Trieste so expect a few whining tweets…
I’ve now cycled over 2,000km since the Temple of Poseidon in Greece. I estimate that there are another 3,000 to go but that the next 1,500 across Italy and southern France should be far less chronically challenging that what I’ve experienced through Greece, Albania, Montenegro, & Croatia (& a little bit of Bosnia of course). Spain will be more like the Adriatic coast than Italy or France but I’m hoping that with a more cycling-friendly infrastructure (although I’m not expecting great things, just better than they have been in most of the areas I have cycled through so far), my path may be guided a little bit more into areas which don’t pose such of a physical challenge. Or am I just being far too over-optimistic? Who cares? It’s weeks away!
Apart from being a physically long & gruelling cycle, I’ve also found Croatia to be a lonely country to visit. Nothing to do with the local Croats who I’m sure are just as friendly or unfriendly as the rest of us but it has been a country where I haven’t spent time with anyone for more than a few minutes. Those short encounters have tended to be to sort out the functional stuff of travel. The one contact I did have (in Dubrovnik) chose to ignore my emails just as I approached his city (after having previously & recently exchanging quite a few – perhaps he saw some of the videos and changed his mind!). From here on however I do have more contacts who I am looking forward to meeting and spending a little bit of time with. I also need to crank up my use of the cycling social network WarmShowers. There are very few people listed on the network for the eastern part of the Adriatic but many more in Italy, France & Spain. If you are one of them, I may be in touch. If you live in Trieste, it could be in the next few minutes…
So, the unfamiliar part of my journey is drawing to a close. The familiar part – countries through which I have previously travelled and in the case of Italy and France know very well – is about to begin. That doesn’t mean it will will be any the less eventful. I hope.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. jim says:

    Plus one for mark Beaumonts’ comments, I seem to recall him having to take some pretty major roads to get across Spain as the minor ones were just dead ends cut across by the new ones. A police escort was necessary at one point… The coast is, lower, as you would expect, but the centre is a huge high plain with the odd mountainous bit. Very pretty, but perhaps not entirely what you may desire at the end of several thousand kilometres of cycling

  2. Russ says:

    Lucozade Sport is a non- fizzy drink that is good for hydration. A few more E numbers than I’d prefer, but still good & I’d have thought fairly easy to find.
    Coconut water ( not milk) in cartons is a very natural rehydrator & is 4x higher in potassium than bananas giving you a good return on energy. I’ve only recently discovered the delights of coconut water but use it regularly now.

    Re- Spain/ Portugal. I know it’s a few weeks away & I don’t know the areas or want to ‘rain on your Parade’ as it were, but I recall Mark Beaumont stated in his round the World book that he totally underestimated the areas for the amount of mountains.
    Admittedly, he was travelling South to North.
    Just a thought!
    Personally, I would be more concerned about the coastal road of Spain at the main resorts where there are a high number of fatalities every year.
    Please go safely!
    Enjoying & looking forward to your regular Tweets & Blogs.
    With you every step of the way, albeit in spirit.
    Regards.
    Russ

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