Saturday, September 15, 2012
Day 19 - Grand Col St Bernard to Pont St Martin (Friday 14th September)
Distance from Canterbury: 1148 kms Distance to Rome: 926 kms
Garmin Record: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/233174495
(No map seems to have been captured but the ride details are there)
It was pretty much a downhill day. What a change. I left the Col this morning in freezing conditions. Sunny but the night had been very cold and there was ice on the road with a freezing wind blowing. I was given good advice about how to tackle the ride down to Aosta by a lovely Swiss couple I met. I also enjoyed chatting to a Belgian man who has been walking the VF in stages during his annual leave. So nice to have spent time over a meal with them all. As you will have noticed I'm very bad at gettimg people's names so I do hope that when these folk read this, they email me on firstname.lastname@example.org (or anyone else can email me there, for that matter). I also shared dinner and breakfast with Tom and Dana, whose details I did get and I will be emailing them. It is a wonderful part of this sort of journey to meet and spend time with such interesting, kind and heart-warming people.
Back to the day's ride. Taking the good advice, I dressed as warmly as I could. Buff over head under helmet, two cycling shirts and a warm fleecy top. Not much I could do with cycling shorts and gloves. Off I set down the road. Within one kilometre I stopped to put on my cape as well, the wind was so icy cold. Within 500 metres, while going downhill at about 20 kms per hour (very slowly actually on that gradient), the wind whips my cape completely over my head and suddenly I can see nothing but green. In panic I grab my brakes and stop so suddenly that I had no time to get my feet loose from the pedal. Crash, bang, fall #4. This could have been dangerous if I fell into the road but fortunately it was into the flower pots of a little cottage so not much damage was inflicted to me or the pots. One good thing though, a St Bernard dog came to bark at me and see me off the property so I'm glad I saw one. Anyway after that, I tied my cape around my waist and all was well. Like the uphill, it's a 40 km downhill all the way into Aosta so apart from using up my brake pads it was a great ride.
In Aosta I wandered about and did some shopping, playing tourist as it was nice and warm and sunny. Back down to about 540 metres altitude.
Then I pushed on trying to make up for the lost day. The ride was lovely in the valley along the banks of the river and sometimes in the foothils of the mountain. Saw an amazing fort, the Forte di Bard just before arriving at Pont St Martin.
It is now a cultural centre but what an incredible defense fortress it must have been in its day. So here I am, no worse for wear having had a gentle day's ride.
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