Day 34 Sunday 26th June 2016 55km (3078km in total)
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Robert Frost
I was woken up at 3.30am by some rustling in the nearby bushes. Sitting up bolt upright, I was soon very awake, being my first wild camping experience I was a anxious about predators or people coming. The footsteps draw nearer and nearer. A short grunt and snort gave me some relief. At least it wasn’t an angry farmer!
The animal come right up against the tent, so close I could hear it breathing. My heart rate was throbbing, worried that the beast might hear, I slowly tried to lie back down and relax. Something a little tricky with a unknown visitor inches away from you! In my head I thought if I just be quiet, it would just think the green object is an empty tent, with no tasty, fleshy prey inside!
After a few more grunts and shuffles, the animal shuffled off away from the tent. From the other side, I heard another animal following, but also soon disappeared. I lay there for the next half an hour, listening to every noise, worried it might return. I heard several loud calls, similar to a deep sheeps bleating, although much louder and sometimes more like a screech.
I had previously been warned about wild boar so can only assume that was what my night encounter was. It was definitely low on the ground with a snout to snuffle with but that is all I know. I didn’t want to look out and see it! I have since heard some wild boars on YouTube, and they sound somewhat similar. If anyone thinks differently, let me know what it was!
Having been woken up early, I left at 6am to climb the rest of the alps, over to the coast and Genova. It was very cool, the first day I have had recently when I feel cold wearing shorts! However it was early in the morning and I was at 700 meters.
The roads were smooth but quiet. I passed many restaurants and shops, with the majority looking like they had closed down, with cobwebs inside.
Preparing to wild camp requires you to think ahead. You won’t have access to electricity or water so have to have everything topped up beforehand. Darren and Izzy, who I met the other day, were carrying three ways to charge their devices! One through a dynamo being charged up when the wheels rotate, a solar charger and a massive 22,000mAh battery pack. They were fully kitted out and could survive weeks in the wild!
They were very prepared, but Darren was the first cycling tourer who I have seen wearing steel toe capped boots! He had been given them as a present, and didn’t want to leave them behind so decided to bring them. Maybe it helps to have extra weight pushing the peddles but my feet would find them like a boil in the bag!
I was heading towards the touristy areas and popular coastal resorts. I didn’t think there’d would be many places to try wild camping again but were plenty of campsites on the map. I had contacted two people from Warmshowers, but hadn’t heard back from any. I guess that’s due to me partly leaving the daily destinations to the last minute meaning I don’t always give the hosts enough warning that I’m coming. Not having access to the internet halve the time doesn’t help though!
Today didn’t have the same views as when I crossed the Austrian Alps, with lots of forests and trees covering the landscape. The air was very cool and refreshing which was needed. The clouds stayed most of the day, with even a spot of rain for five minutes in the evening! As most people took cover indoors, I rejoiced and soaked it up, knowing it wouldn’t last long.
When I was descending the mountains, I noticed a wobble coming back to my rear wheel. Again? This is the fourth time! I felt the spokes and yes, two were coming loose again. I now think it must be damaged or not built properly, as three times it has been re-trued this trip! However, it was only a wobble and not being as bad as last time, I could continue my day.
So far, I haven’t had any illnesses or discomfort on this trip (except the legs!). However today my stomach felt a like it had a little stomach bug. It could be from the heat or drinking water from the village taps. The locals say the water is OK to drink but you can’t be sure. Or it could just be connected to my last few long days. Over the last seven days, I’ve cycled 791km (491miles)! Probably one of my longest weeks so far, in the hottest conditions so far!
I only passed Genova, but instantly the streets and beaches were full of people, something I haven’t seen for a while. Although it was a Sunday, many shops were still open. I felt it had been long time since I’d been I h to any big chains, so had a look around IKEA and Decathlon, both shops I’ve never been to before!
Compared to last nights camping in the wild, having all these people around felt a bit odd. A contrast to sleeping on your own halfway up a mountain! Markets with local fruit, food lined the roads by the beach, with the longest car boot sale I’ve ever seen!
I was going to a campsite in Arenzano but the road was closed due to a blocked tunnel. I was tired and a little ill, so instead of retracing my steeps and riding another 15km, I found a campsite in Vesima. It was only around 3pm, so relaxed in the shade for the rest of the day!