Ciao a tutti,
I feel like it has been so long since I have talked to you all, and let’s be honest it has been over a year since you have been subjected to my witty repertoire and ridiculous ramblings. So, I thought while I was working on getting my blog pages up and running, I would start getting some posts up here and there so you can see what crazy stuff Will and I keep getting ourselves into.
This last weekend was the last day of July (Friday) and the first day of August (Saturday); it was also one of the hottest weekends of the year, oh, and I finished the summer semester. So, it legit seemed like a good idea to do something fun. By fun I mean go to the mountains, camp in our friend’s garden, (a garden in Italy usually means more than a vegetable plot, think more like a backyard) and ride our touring bikes over the hills to Lake Garda.
Really, the distance was only 13 kilometers (roughly 10 miles) as the crow flies, but there was a large hill between our starting point and ending point. But, Will and I are nothing if not adventurous, as you might know, if you keep up with my Instagram or Karyn’s Corner Facebook account, I’ll leave the links in case you need them.
We were ready! Will hadn’t been on his bike all summer, as for me, I had only been riding outside again for the last week. So, neither of us had been doing much riding at all. We knew the day was going to be hot; the weather gurus called for it to be the hottest day of the year. Later in the afternoon, I would completely agree with this assessment, but by that time, my point of view might have been slightly distorted by heat exhaustion and sweat.
Did I mention it was going to be hot? I snort to myself as I ask that question because, at 8:30 in the morning, I had no idea what hot was. With 46 oz of water in our bottles (each) and high spirits, we headed down the hill and into the small town of Caprino to get ready to climb the more prominent hill in front of us. We were using a new app called Naviki, which I am really impressed with, but as many of you know, when learning to use new navigating apps, there may be a learning period. Ours was while climbing the first biggish hill. We got lost at least twice, but not big lost, only a half-mile here, a quarter-mile there. Getting stupid lost would come when we got to the lake.
We got to the downhill part again, and it was then that I realized we might be in real trouble on our way back. The grade down in the last 500-foot drop was roughly 15-18%; I will not lie, I walked my bike down that gravelly trail. Touring bikes aren’t the lightest bikes, to begin with, not super heavy, definitely not road bike light.
My bike tried to run away with me, but I knew what was happening on the downhill was nothing compared to the pig-rhino it was going to be on our way back. For those of you that don’t know, I named my touring bike the Baby Rhino because she is a pig-headed bitch when she wants to be. However, we made it down the hill, walking/riding, and finally to the lake.
Lake Garda is as beautiful as ever. We found a little bar and had cappuccino and croissants and then decided to explore. We found our way down to the water, and for those of you that don’t know, Lake Garda doesn’t really have sand beaches, they have rocks. They are rounded, well worn, but rocks nonetheless. Some places they are thin with packed dirt poking through and what may have, at one time, been some sort of cement holding it together, those days of cohesiveness are long since gone. We rode on these rocks. Between walls (usually leading to private property) or fences and sunbathers located close to the lake’s clear liquid. We came to a place where we couldn’t ride anymore and had to push our bikes, it was flat, but rocks are not the easiest thing to push your bike through. We will call this our first BPC (Bad Personal Choice). But we persevered because we were sure there had to be a path soon. They have been talking about a route around Garda for cyclists for years.
Spoiler, there was not a path; we were “big lost.” this time. After a mile and a half (2.4 kilometers) of riding/pushing our bikes through these ridiculous rocks, we came to a place where there were no more rocks and no more pretend path, just lake, and we had bikes, not boats. Soooo, we turned around, I mean, really, what else were we going to do? The sun was hotter by this time, and the shade on the lakeside was non-existent, it was a balmy 98.6 degrees (37 celsius) on those rocks. At our first opportunity, we got off the rocks and rode our bikes back to the area we had stopped for morning cappuccino. I was starving. I had just pushed/rode my bike through rocks for 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) in almost 100-degree heat. So, onto BPC 2! I ordered a bacon cheeseburger, and Will ordered a bacon cheeseburger. They were as delicious as only a bacon cheeseburger in Europe can be after pushing your bike for 3 miles, which means they really weren’t, but we were starving.
Back onto the bike, but heading the opposite direction. We pedaled leisurely down to Bardolino and found a place for gelato. BPC 3! It was mediocre gelato, definitely not worth it in hindsight. But there we were with our gelato and our bikes realizing that it was going to take us at least two hours to get home, so we decided to head back toward our mountain retreat, maybe grab a cool shower and relax in the shade. The temperature was a gorgeous 100-102 (37-38 celsius), and we had a hill to climb.
Onward and upward. We weren’t taking the same route back because we weren’t leaving from the same pace we entered, we started slowly and mostly comfortably, touring bikes gear down pretty low. Then we came around a bend and realized that what we had come down was nothing compared to what we had to go back up. The burger and the gelato were having a war in my belly to be the first to evacuate, and the angle I was stooped over at to push my bike up the hill was guaranteeing that it wouldn’t take long for anything leaving my mouth to make it to the ground. I don’t know whether I am proud or sad to report that I managed not to throw up, but for whatever reason, all food stayed down. I really wish it hadn’t, but it did.
At one point, I stopped on the side of the road, sat down, and contemplated my life choices up to this moment. And you know what? No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t see how I being on the side of the road in the middle of Italy with my bike and a revolting belly full of burger and gelato as a bad thing. Sure, I had heat exhaustion, I had already drunk over 100 oz of water, and I had forgotten all the snacks I had bought that would have replaced salt levels and sugar levels in a safer manner than lousy gelato. But on the other side of that gravelly side of the road was my husband, the best damn adventure partner a person could have. I was on the road debating whether to vomit or not, but at least I would be vomiting in Italy, while not riding (at that particular moment) through some of the most gorgeous countryside known to man. And even though I had terrible gelato today, I knew where great gelato was. In all, it isn’t a bad life; in fact, it’s a wonderful life. And BPC aside, it was a great day. I love knowing that Will and I can still do crazy things and make the best of them, creating memories and stories to tell.
The short side of this long story, have great adventures, while sometimes making bad personal choices and try your best not to settle for inferior gelato. Thanks for hanging out with me. I promise we have more adventures to come.