Kilometers Traveled: 101
Kilometers Climbed: 1.7
Are you wondering what a moon man eats to haul a telescope through the Italian countryside? A week's worth fruit, cheese, bread, and chocolate fuels us each day.
The Eurovelo 7 could be described as the "scenic route" through the Italy. It is a bike route that keeps you away from main roads to take you through some beautiful and remote places. As we left the roads for a gravel path, we realize we are leaving civilization for hours at a time. Reaching the top of a huge hill is a beautiful achievement, but I think we'd like to limit ourselves to doing it maybe 10 times a day, max.
The dogs run up to the property line and cross it, surrounding our bikes as a pack. We don't know if they are ready to bite, and attack. Brendan lets out a scream, and the dogs back away enough for him to speed off. Then they surround me.
One dog snaps at my leg from less than a foot away. It was instinct to scream as loud as I could. The dog backs away for a moment, and I'm able to speed off as well. The dogs decide not to chase us, although they could have easily caught up.
We eat our coldcut lunch and reflect on our first near-death experience of the day. It is 2 pm, and we are still 60 kilometers from our destination. We have been making a pace of.. 10 kilometers an hour. The hills are truly that steep. Will we make it there by sunset? We put our heads down and focus on our ride.
Ageless Italian towns pass us by, we speed past. Beautiful hilltops greet us, we climb through. The hours tick by. At 7 pm, we are still 20 kilometers away, and our host lives on a hill 500 meters above Orvieto. We have no choice now but to hit the hatchbacks.
The sunset is beautiful but threatens darkness. Brendan reminds us to keep pushing, to remain positive. We enter a trancelike state, where the climb is no longer difficult, it is simply what we must do. An orange glowing sun drops beneath the clouds and warms us one last time before setting behind the Umbrian hillside.
15 minutes after sunset, down a steep and slippery gravel road, we reach our host Francesco on his farm.
He greets us warmly with rice and lentil soup, his two dogs are kind to us, and the beds that he offers are warm. Francesco is a WWOOF and Warmshowers host, he invites people into his home pro gratis, and belongs to a community of people who do this with a mentality of trust and pass-it-forward kindness.
The sky clears after a day of rain (did I mention it was raining?), and we are rewarded with one of the darkest night skies I have ever seen. The waxing gibbous moon steals the show a bit, but we set up our telescope and share the night sky with our new friend.
Our limits have been tested, we have been on the most difficult bicycle ride of our lives, and tomorrow promises more hills and more rain. We decide to rest for as long as we need to, and think carefully about what to do about Perugia tomorrow.