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Posted on 12 July 2016
in Stories

From Andorra to Albania - Part 4


Day 20 - Souvorov


A much dreaded day has come. All week I have been going parallel to big mountains but today I had to cross the Alps like field marshal Souvorov and his troops did in 1799. Although I made the first 50 km in two and a half hours, it was just a warmup. It took four hours to make the rest 40 km. During last 10 km I would stop every few hundred meters to rest, my legs just would not push anymore. To top it off, it was sunny and hot. However, the surroundings were amazing: steep mountains on both sides and the Rhine finding its way through the valleys. Right now, from my camping site, I can see mountaintops still covered in snow. That's where I will head tomorrow. 20-25 km towards San Bernardino pass and from there downhill, or so I hope, towards lake Como.


Today in numbers:

96 km - distance covered

5h54m - riding time

6 L - of water I consumed

1475 m - elevation at my camp site



Day 21 - Passover


I got over the hump! After a long and winding road I reached the San Bernardino Pass. It’s not Grand St. Bernard or even Petit St. Bernard but nonetheless a big hurdle for me and Greengo. It was difficult but I was relatively fresh from my night's sleep. The view from the top was gorgeous: you could see snowy peaks and green valleys down below.

My hopes for a long descent materialized: there were 25 km of twists and turns going down. I was happy I came from the other side. Going up from here would have been much more painful, if possible at all - the ascent was too steep and long.

When I got to the bottom of the valley it was hot and muggy, but at least the road was flat. Soon, however, I had to climb another mountain pass. It was smaller but it turned out to be more difficult. At times I was pushing my bike and worrying about heat stroke.

By the time I got to Lugano, a typical vacation spot, I was not at all interested in any sightseeing. I just wanted to pitch my tent and call it a day.


Today in numbers:

115 km - distance covered 

7h - riding time

1h5m - time by which I beat Google's estimate. Either I am Speedy Gonzales or Google sucks

2066 m - height of San Bernardino Pass, the one I crossed today



Day 22 - Italiano Vero


I left Lugano early morning to try to beat the heat, but to no avail. By the time I reached Como, the first Italian city on my path, it was depressingly hot. I vaguely remember this city from my Moscow Circus touring years, when we had sailed to an island. Although there are a few nice piazzas, I stopped here for more trivial reasons: I needed to get a local SIM card so I can be connected with the rest of the world.

Then, a short hop to Lecco, a cute little town on Lake Como. It seemed everyone there was eating gelato. I didn't need any more hints, I joined the ranks of locals and foreigners cooling themselves down.

Once again I will be sleeping in my tent. Once again the spot is great - right on the Lake Garlate, 10 meters from the water. I went in right after I arrived, it was so nice after hot afternoon ride.


Today in numbers:

69 km - distance covered

4h13m - riding time, wasn't really in a hurry

33° C - today's temperature



Day 23 - Truffaldino from Bergamo


While in Moscow Circus School, I read, as part of the curriculum, oeuvres of various classics. Amongst them, The Servant of Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni. The main personnage, named Truffaldino, was from Bergamo. Ever since, the city and personnage are inseparable to me. Today I had the chance to visit the city I've heard about many years ago. I went in the Citta Alta, the old city, dominating the rest of Bergamo. It is a well preserved walled medieval city, very expensive to live in. I had a bit of time to slowly cycle through the narrow streets with lots of tourists. I liked what I saw.

Then I swung by Lake Iseo to see the Floating Piers, a temporary work of art by Bulgarian artist Christo Yavacheff, consisting of 100,000 square meters of yellow fabric, carried by a modular floating dock system of 220,000 polyethylene cubes. The fabric creates a walkable surface over the water. It seemed there were as many people as there were cubes. I am not a big fan of long lines, so I skipped the attraction. 

Finally I arrived in Brescia. There was a few nice piazzas with appealing cafes, a very old cathedral, Roman ruins. However, I had already dialed up 120km and I still had another 20km to go to my resting place, in the small town of Montichiari. So it was a very quick visit.

Alberto, my host, brought me to his cousin's flat, who is absent, and told me I could stay here for a couple of days if I wanted to. I may actually do just that - rest.


Today in numbers:

139 km - distance covered, yet another personal record 

6h48m - riding time

5 - times a perfectly cycleable road abruptly became a highway with no way out



Day 24 - Siesta


It's Sunday. Church is open. Most everything else is closed. I am lazy, I stay in bed. Birds sing outside. No spinning today. Pizza and football tonight. And then - gelato. Good night, sweet dreams.