Monday, 10 September 2007

Day 53 - Ponte a Cappiano - Gambassi Terme - 40km

Up early and the sun is already burning high in the sky, but the good news is that we manage to find an off-road and simple route where last year's map led us into a chaotic network of tracks with no clear end - except in the middle of nowhere.

We reach San Miniato without incident, mooch through the quiet streets, admire the amazing views, drink a gallon of fruit juice and then get back on our bikes - with the sun rising ever higher in the sky, the Tuscan ups becoming ever steeper and more frequent and the downs always less than needed to cool us off.

Meanwhile Paul is showing clear signs of heat distress, but admitting to nothing. I watch him and know something is seriously wrong when he does not protest to my saying I am going off to find some more water, in fact he just slumps down and lets me go without a word - a worrying sign.

One hill later and I insist we take a break, and sod it if the only shady place we can find is a cemetry. We crash on the cool wall (not on a gravestone), refill our bottles from the tap and wait for pulses to settle - Vasco's included. Half an hour later we slog the three remaining kms to Gambassi, every single one of them up hill, but we take it slowly and survive - perhaps a sign that we are learning at last.

It is tough to admit that the heat got to me. I am the sun freak in the family, seeking every opportunity to get the rays, but yesterday I think it was a little too much even for me. We drink beer and even coke by the the gallon to get the liquid levels back to normal and then finally move onto the local wine that comes free with our special pilgrim meal. The host at the hotel is affable and we have a very acceptable room for 50 euros and a multi course meal with free booze for 12 euros per head.

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