At the end of my first week in Lucca I’m tired. The cold I picked up since leaving home has got worse. I’m complete now, with running nose and persistent cough which is an irritant to all I suspect.
However I’ve managed to relax and unwind, as much as is possible with a cold. I’ve started to do a little cycling, ciclismo and that has been a saving grace or “pick-me-up”. I explored some roads: first the Lucca city loop which is about four and a half kilometres around the city wall in heavy traffic, mostly trying to get across town to the SS11, the Autostrada. After a few loops I broke out and tried my hand at running for the hills I could see in the distance.
It took a few attempts but soon found myself on the SS12 and then I took a turn that gradually started an ascent to a place called Matraia. There are avenues of grand villas on the way up to this place which is on a hilly range of 300 metres elevation or so. The most beautiful country, rolling hills of olive groves and vineyards, old houses and twisty lanes. A great place to ride on any day.
Another day I had a conversation with some professional cyclists, a women’s team from the UK called Drops, not from the bike handlebars but drops of wallpaper. The team’s main sponsor makes cycling wallpaper. They were a great bunch of young women who you’ll no doubt hear more about.
On Saturday I’d arranged to join Rudy Giovacchini’s bunch ride. He sent me a meet-up location for a 7:00am start. I was pretty surprised I made despite leaving early with my talent for getting lost around here. Nevertheless 10 riders including me showed up, had a few jokes and I shook hands with a few riders including Marco from Paris who has lived here 20 years. What worried me they mostly had sleeves on and wind-jackets in their jersey pockets. I had experienced any day here when I needed sleeves. What they know that I didn’t?
It turned out they knew it was going to be a 150km ride through 3000VM up into the mountains. I indicated to Rudy I might have to head back at some point due to my health problems. Sure enough after loosing the bunch twice I decided it was better to bail and head back. It was spectacular country and sights we saw as we rode through including seeing a 15th century bridge. I was happy with the ride and enjoyed the company.
I might see if Rudy can do some weekday rides this week, maybe down to Pisa. That’s my week in Lucca, Italy and the first week in ages when I cracked over 350km, recovery underway.