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This year, the whole point of the trip seemed to me the water. After crossing the Alps, in fact, we are in contact with the river Rhine which has been with us almost from its origin to the outfall in the sea (only its first 200 km were still wanting).

The thrill for me was strong. The environment was changing day by day: high mountains, small lakes and those ones so large that you do not to see the banks; endless wooded banks, rectilinear; meadows, hills, farmlands; small towns and large cities; highways and country alleys; industrial areas, windmills, ports; and finally dunes and beaches from which it opens, in front of the observer, the infinite horizon.

And yet every day, every moment, had in common the presence of those water currents that moved slowly to our side. Although invisible, they were there somewhere and I was dragged by them as one of the quiet river ships sailing along the bends of the river and occasionally landing for a stopover.

Perhaps the effect would have been even higher if we had taken the path of Rhine exactly from its source, placed more than 2000 meters above sea level; it would be an interesting idea for a trip of a next year. Too bad, however, that the bike path that passes for its first 100 km does not seem that at all, being on the valley's main highway. I already tried to do road cycling in the roads of Alpine valleys of Switzerland and I willingly give them to motorists and truckers. Project deferred to an unspecified future time in which Switzerland also will follow the example of Trentino Alto Adige, building real cycle roads dedicated exclusively to bicycle without interruption from the start to the end of each valley.

And also, probably, it would have been a completely different impression along the line of the Rhine in the opposite direction, i.e. from the sea to the Alps. Apart from the wind, which blows mainly from north to south, there is the river current that goes into opposite direction and I imagine this affect the travel atmosphere significantly. This may well be taken into consideration for a future project, such as the London - Island of Elba which, I do not know why, is already going on my mind since a bit of time...< br />

Turning to the practical aspects, there were different experiences. I summarize some of them briefly.

- The journey did not include long intermediate stops. This has been a failure that was felt: we never docked anywhere, it was as we were navigating the open sea (or, using land metaphors, as we were running while holding our breath) from start to finish. Arrived at the final destination, then, we had to take the train for the return after only one day ... so, not good!

- The general program that I jotted down before leaving provided too high daily distances. In fact there was no bond of respecting them, it had been well explained that for fatigue or other reasons anyone could ask to slow or stop. But the existence of that written program was an entity always present, invisible and yet it made itself be felt; so the participants in the trip were reluctant to ask to stop even if the rhythms were a bit stressing for some, besides the delays accumulated over that program brought light bad moods. So, the next time the preventive program has to be drawn up with lower distances.

- People in Holland have been extra-nice to us travelers: more than once when we just started to look at a map someone stopped to offer help of his/her own volition. I once tried also to say 'thanks but I'm just looking at the path, no problem' but that guy was disappointd, so we talked a bit and he showed us what for him was the best way to enter Rotterdam, according to him the road signals was sending on a boring and insignificant path. And in fact the one he recommended was really a beautiful way that made us feel part of this incredible city. Such was the happiness in seeing all these spontaneous aids, that henceforth I will do the same when I will see a traveler looking a map in my parts.

- The measure of health is not always the same in different parts of Europe. You go from paradise zones to other areas where objectively the presence of industrial plants is in conflict with that of residential buildings. Besides it's impressive to see how the water of a river is gradually fouled along its course; at the beginning you can swim in it, at the end you can't because it is poisonous. Found the problem, the solution is difficult to design... it would need perhaps a greater distance between the different types of settlement, and an increased attention to the choice of which plants to achieve and to their emissions.

But it's also good to forget the tangible reality for some time. So for now let's fool ourselves in the feelings that this trip has given us, and begin to dream the next land navigation along the bicycle highways of Europe.

Thanks to all participants, and see you soon!



Gold medal (1900 km)
Flavio Ferrini, ITA: Ala - Amsterdam
Flavio Bassi, ITA: Ala - Amsterdam
Silver medal (1000 km)
Samuele Tarantola, ITA: Ala - Köln
Bronze medal (500 km)
Lorenzo Bottazzi, ITA: Immenstaad - Köln
Obviously can not miss the best compliments to all participants by the Organizing Committee, the Jury of auditors and inspectors: D and soon to the next trip!
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