Independence Day, how apt. I’m going to enjoy just being able to take my time and sit around doing whatever I want for the day.
This is our first rest day after four (4) days of cycling, and while it’s been lovely. How nice it has all been, and to some extent I feel a bit odd.
Here I am sitting in Piazza Anfiteatro, Lucca, a large piazza surrounded by ristoranti and buildings. It’s quiet, there’s a few people out and about, a group of American tourists enjoying a coffee and just sitting taking it all in, and the locals going about their business oblivious to the hundreds of tourists milling about..
We arrived in Lucca yesterday afternoon, after a nice ride and some thrilling descents again. It was good to ride in through the city gates, and then up onto the city wall. As we rode around the city towards La Luna, our hotel, I soaked in the sense of history I’ve felt since arriving in Rome a few days ago. There were people sitting under the trees, parents and their children either walking or riding the old fashioned bicycles and I suppose to me also a sense of anticipation about a rest day. The cycling is thoroughly enjoyable but it’s also good to know I don’t need to ride one hundred (100) or more before I get to bed again!
A shower was what I wanted most … so I just took everything out of my pockets, my shoes off, and into the shower. Well into the shower is not quite how it works in Italia, it’s really a multi step process;
Step 1 – find the light switch. I assure you this can be a challenge, with whatever you find sometimes turning on and off every light other than the bathroom.
Step 2 – make sure your towel is nearby, as not every towel rail is right beside the shower.
Step 3 – place the soap and shampoo on the soap holder, being careful for them not to fall off,
Step 4 – ensure everything that you will need is in place, “a bit like bungy jumping” in some ways,
Step 5 – reach in and turn on the shower. Now it seems to me that there should be a standard for shower taps, but there’s not. How many different types of taps there can be, and just as puzzling, how does anyone who may be a bit intellectually or mechanically challenged ever get to turn the tap on,
Step 6 – work out how the shower cubicle door opens and shuts, and then the most challenging part of it all,
Step 7 – Squeeze yourself into a cubicle which is little more the size of a very small coffee table top. Once you’re in, there’s no way other than back out. There’s no room to bend down if your drop the soap, or as happens with almost every shower I’ve had in Italia, the soap falls through / off the “useless” soap holder. Stuns me how someone designed these “soap non holders””!
But really, once you’ve got that far it’s all done by habit, though washing your feet is an unusual challenge. It requires you to lift your foot up while maintain your balance on the other foot, and slightly bending your knee so you can reach your foot, feeling around for your toes, and then giving them a wash … all the while not looking down for fear of slipping.
Maybe just a little overstated, but I love these little challenges each day!!
But interesting as it is to talk about showering, it’s just as interesting being in a place with thousands of years of human history and beautiful if but depilated architecture. I wonder if there was ever a time when all of this was fresh and new, or has it always been in similar start with constant ;building and demolition.
There’s much to see in Lucca, from the cobble and stone laneways, the elegant clothing, shoes and fashion shops of all types, the beautiful buildings, and of course the famed “bicycle shops”” with every design of jersey you can imagine. But all I really want to do today is to sit around, drink coffee, and shortly have a nice long lunch and maybe even a sleep this afternoon.
Our cycling has been enjoyable, other than for the incessant heat. The countryside through Tuscany is just beautiful and I felt it was just better to include a hyperlink to the Google images of Tuscany rather than take so many photos. Tuscany is beautiful and I hope to come back here to spend more time as soon as I can. I’m keeping pace with the stronger riders easily enough, so it seems all of that training is paying off. Of course my weight is a handicap, but I am climbing well enough and keeping touch with the other riders, which probably says more about their level of riding than mine. I’m finding I can maintain good cadence on 7 / 8 % gradients, but drop off significantly if the gradient increases beyond 8%. We have had some 15% gradients which I struggled up with my heart pounding in my chest, but I did have to get off and walk up an 18% gradient.
So what does all this mean?
Well I need to acknowledge my limitations, and just … keep going.