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BICYCLE TOUR: EUROTOUR 2010

FLAVIO BASSI'S ON-BOARD DIARY

DAY 12

DATE: 18:07:2010
START: KEHL
FINISH: PLITTERSDORF
LENGTH: 73 KM
AVERAGE SPPED: 15.6 KM/H
DIFFICULTY GRADE: A1
Mutiny on the bridge!!!
The 150 km of the previous day have left their mark. Today the day starts with a mutiny, while we are near the Bridge of Europe: we don't want to do any longer the shift of 8 hours on the saddle.

As the Grandride has no commander, there is no one to dismiss; the protest is therefore actually only a faint signal in the wind. The path may continue as it began, that is we follows the road indicated by the guides without constraints of time, if someone is tired he says and we stop at any time. In any case, experience is probably that the travel plan, which wanted to be only a reference rule, was too ambitious in the daily mileage, and not respecting them has caused discontent in the crew; so next year should take into account this fact, and prepare a program of minimum-reference, with much lower mileage daily. So if we'll exceed it all us will be happy, and if we'll respect it we will be happy the same:)

Before leaving the area, the morning is dedicated to a visit to Strasbourg, the twin city of Kehl lying just beyond the bridge. Strasbourg is a bit messy, like a small Paris not exceptionally attractive, but the amazing effect is to see two completely different worlds at a distance of only one bridge. Here the German world, beyond the French - language, architecture, customs and culture are completely different. The above said bridge is the 'Bridge of Europe', newly built; even the park along the river on which it lies, on both sides, is new. While I run along it I think that before the European unification here the river was probably a difficult barrier to cross. I also think that during the war this barrier was probably defended and fought with weapons... what different times. And yet only a few decades are passed, and today Kehl is the over-Rhine district of Strasbourg, of the kind of Trastevere in Rome or Oltrarno in Florence, and bus lines go from one place to another safely. A peaceful unification which, speaking for myself, should be an example for the world.

After Strasbourg, we go. But today it is a restless day. We get lost! The fact went like this: I proceed teutonically with the wheels glued to the colored line marked on the guide, which often means staying on the already known introspective dykes, with little dirt roads. The other crew mates prefer paved roads in the vicinity. For the first case all right, but at Rheinau we do not understand each other: Lorenzo and Flavio, the fastest on the asphalt, do not expect me at the fixed intersection and continue. The other asphaltine Samuele, slowed down by the trailer, no longer sees the other two and enters a long dead-end street. When I arrive at the intersection I do not see anyone, I think they have deliberately not waited for me, however strangely I remain calm and do not get nervous. So I proceed straight always along the guide. Luckily this year on the command deck I installed a cellular phone, so I call Lorenzo, then Flavio, but nothing doing: no response. I call Samuele, and I hear an excited voice that tells me that he is completely off the road, is running back after seeing the end of the cul-de-sac taken by error, while he knows that the other two are lost in the countryside somewhere. We agree to a meet to a large village, reacheable by the signs of ordinary roads, and I proceed in the bush (we had just entered a naturalistic area). After some curves with my surprise I see before me ... Flavio and Lorenzo! They were more or less following the Rhein-Radweg. At the end we find also Samuele, and... all right?

Not really. At a later stop I enter a boat club bar to drink something, but nobody at the desk - say nobody - ask me what I want. I obviously has been recognized as a passer-beggar-who-surely-do-not-sit-at-table-for-lunch, so I leave them with their partners and I head to the bike. I take a couple of minutes for a greeting to Yukari, my fiancée, by the prodigious cell phone, then I turn and... I find myself alone in the hot sun. The companions are gone. They left without saying anything.

We lost for the second time in the same day. This is the straw that breaks the camel, I get furious, leave at full speed and after a few minutes I reach them and discharge the nerves communicating well that we can't do this. 'If it happens again I take the train and go home!' I must have said - even shouted - something like that. But this time I was right... or not?

Slowly everything passes, and we are in an original holiday resort in the countryside. Around a little lake that is little more than a pond they have treated lawns and beaches and you can play golf, diving, cycling, swimming, various fitness... the result is that in what would be a very anonymous camping in a remote farmland we see tourists - sedentary - coming with campers, caravans, trailers and motorhomes from Britain, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark... incredible.

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