Day 31: Egna to Montebelluna, Italy
The view down the river gorge in the morning
This day was very different from the past two days. It was not damp - except for a little sprinkle when I stopped at a supermarket in the Sugana Valley - and it was not short. I rode over 100 miles today and climbed about half a mile. Most of the riding was level or downhill, but there was a big climb fron Trento in the Adige Valley to get over the hills to the Sugana Valley which I rode for most of the day.
The bikepath near Egna
The bikepath in the gorge where it was raining yesterday
The castle in Trento
Riding to Trento was pretty fast, but took a lot longer than I expected because I thought I was fifteen miles nearer Trento than I really was. Since I was cruising in the high teens, going down river with a tailwind, that fifteen miles took less than a hour to cover. The bikepath lasted till Lavis, then I rode SS 12 into Trento. That was pretty fast too, but require a lot more attention than riding on the bikepath because the traffic was pretty heavy and there was no shoulder much of the way.
Climbing out of Trento - this went on for several kilometers
Where Paul came to my rescue
The Sugana Valley from the hills where it starts
A beautiful lake near the start of the Sugana Valley
In Trento, I compass navigated my way south and east, looking for a road that would climb over the hills and get me to the Sugana Valley. I found the road I wanted, climbed several hundred meters on it, and was confronted with a no bikes sign! There was no indication of what I should do next, so I asked a fellow who was taking out his garbage for help. He said "Hmm, that route is only a few km, but it is tricky, please wait a few minutes and I will take you in my car." Wow!
Paul and I loaded my bike into his Mercedes A170 - a really nice small Mercedes that isn't imported in the US, but is very popular all over Europe - and he drove me to a road that climbed another hundred meters and then descended into the Sugana Valley. There were lots of local bicyclist using that route, and it was pretty easy to find a route through the valley from that point since the main road, SS 47, was an autoroute that I couldn't ride on. I just had to find smaller roads and bike paths till, many miles later, SS 47 was the only road and it was legal for me to ride. I can't find the roads (or, of course the bikepaths) I used to get to the valley with Autoroute 2002. They simply aren't in its database!
I stopped for a light lunch at a bar soon after I go down into the valley. I had been riding hard for two hours and I was HUNGRY. All I could get was a simple sandwich and an icecream bar, but that was enough. I followed the old highways that parallel SS 47 until a local rider, who was just a little faster than I was, passed me and the took a bike path. It was a great bike path that, with some variation - bike path to little roads, flat to somewhat hilly - took me from before Levico Terme, all the way to the Valsugana region. Very nice, and very pretty, riding.
The Valsugana bikepath
The path was great, and the scenery was even better
On one of the later parts of the path, I took a snack break
Riding the bikepath though the Sugana Valley was really fine riding. It was a little dangerous because the path often crossed small roads with very little traffic on them. I was typically going 16 to 18 mph and, after a while I got complacent about traffic on those roads. Then I had to brake very hard to keep from running into a car that crossed the path in front of me! I hear it, but because it had a diesel engine, as many cars do here, my mind classified it as agricultural equipment. After that I was more careful!
The great bike path ran out and I was back on the old highways for a while until they ran out as well. At that point I saw a bike path, and a path to the bike path, on the other side of a guard rail on the access to SS 47. Assuming SS 47 was still an autoroute, I unloaded my bike, moved the bags and the bike over the guard rail, and reloaded the bike. I then walked it to the bike path, only to find that the path ended a hundred yards later on SS 47 which was no longer an autoroute! Traffic was heavy, there were only two lanes, and there was no shoulder. There was also no other option, so I rode it. It did get better, with shoulders for a while and then it became a four lane, divided highway with only light to moderate traffic. I tried getting off several times, but, after at best a few kilometers, I was always forced back on. The last time I got back on was just before a narrow gorge section where SS 47 and the railroad are the only things in the gorge. After that I stayed on SS 47 till - opps - well past Basanno where I wanted to turn east on SS 248!
SS 47 after the autoroute ends
SS 47 after it becomes an expressway
SS 47 in the gorge
When I got to Bassano, I had been riding hard for five and a half hours and I was tired. I stopped to rest and eat some cheese and bread and drink half a liter of coke. Then I looked at my computer to check on my routing to Montebelluna. I decided to stay on SS 14 until SS 248, which turned out to be a mistake. Although there was a sign for Montebelluna near SS 14, there was no sign on SS 14 and there was no exit for SS 248. I came to an exit in about the right place, took it, rchecked the computer since the road was marked SS 245, and decided it wasn't the right road. I rode on until I was well past Bassano and then, cursing, road back, got over to SS 57 and found signs for Montebelluna that led me to SS 248. That cost me about ten miles - of easy riding - and changed a 95 mile day into a 105 mile day.
SS 248 is nice, flat, and pretty, and with a lot of traffic moving fairly slowly
These old cars passed me as I was riding it
I got to Montebelluna after about seven and a half hours of riding and checked into a Hotel Europa. It is air conditioned which, since I'm now down near sea level, is nice in the continuing heat wave. Yesterday was the first day since Germany that felt hot, but it was also the first day that I was not in the mountains. The Sugana Valley ends just before Bassano and I am now riding on the coastal plain of northern Italy.