Saturday 26 May. Day 8.
Modane to Alessandria. 143 miles.
It's another early rise at 6.30am and getting ready for breakfast, I pack all my gear away ready for the off after something to eat. The breakfast consists of toast and jam with some cold meat and coffee, not ideal for a long day's cycling ahead but at least I had a great big meal and wine last night.
I sit in the small dining area, and wait to be served, the landlord doesn't speak much english so chat is limited as I don't speak any other language, but he did understand that I was cycling somewhere, when I said Istanbul with only 9 days left he understood and said "Not enough time - too far" I just nodded and said yes very far I will have to be quick.
After saying my good byes to them, I was off towards the Italian border today. It was a cold start to the morning, but it was sunny, the cycle was again going upwards the roads were bending and winding all the time, the views are now excellent and I'm now in the thick of the Alps. I pass by little villages and a monastery in the distance (well it looked like one anyway!).
The climb today was relentless up, up and more up my legs were getting a really good work out today. This carried on until around midday when I reached to summit of Col du Cenis, I was elated the feeling of reaching the top was brilliant, made better with the brilliant weather on this day (Sunny with views of the Alpine peaks all around)
After taking the views in, I saw there was a small cafe at the col, I propped the bike against the wall of the cafe and went inside - very nice, but I was the only customer in (could be because of the high price of the refreshments maybe!) Well I sat down and ordered a coffee, also I seen 2 pieces of cake on the bar/counter, I asked how much and had both (Nice treat).
A few other cyclists had made it to the col and were just taking photos and generally chatting to each other (locals). After my snacks and coffee, I make my move thinking that I can't wait for the descending part :-)
For about a mile after the col I had a head wind blowing in my face, and the road wasn't going down but it was flat, I was thinking wheres the down bit ?? Well after about 5 more minutes the road started to go downhill (Brilliant!) only bad thing headwind again :-( but I did get some speed up - around 27mph I can remember, the roads were a good condition too, plenty of bends and drops. After about 20mins of downhill I stopped to take a pic of the town below "Susa" but even after descending down so much, the town was tiny to look at in the distance - This was fantastic I must have be going down for about 45mins. The height of the col was 6834ft so lots of fun coming down, well worth the pain going up.
Eventually after descending I arrived in Susa, I needed to top up on supplies so I cycled into a local Lidl store, the usual - bike outside, and me inside browsing around for my stuff.. when I got out I noticed I had a puncture on back tyre, so I repaired that before setting off again. It was a very warm day today and my tan was coming along nicely.
I was now following signs for Turin, I'm in Italy now after passing the border sign on the descent down from the col. I still have a headwind but I carry on regardless I have to keep going. I noticed along the way that at some roadside laybys I used to see women sat on chairs just waiting (All I could think was must be ladies of the night) They never shouted anything as I cycled on by, but I just thought thats odd because they were not even in any built up areas they were sat there in open countryside mostly, by the roadside.
Eventually I was heading into the centre of Turin. Why do I do this ? I got a little lost and some stages I was going the wrong way - very frustrating! But hey thats adventure I guess. After some wrong turns I began to find the correct roads out of the city. I am on a quiet road heading out of Turin Yes!! I'm ok now that I'm on the right roads again, and its quieter now after the hustle and bustle of that place. So I'm cycling along and hear a thud.. I slow down to the side of the road, stop and look back to check if anything has fallen off the bike, its my solar charger (Good one too) I see a coach coming my way down the same road I try to wave to the driver to move to the side of the road cos my charger is in the middle of the road, I don't think he sees me waving and he drives over the charger, when he drove past I run out in the road to see if he run over it.. Yep ! its well and truly squashed. Bugger! That was my best charger.
I can remember tweeting after the coach had run over it, saying that I think Brendan off Coachtrip has just squashed my charger haha. (I like that Coach trip on TV).
I was now headed towards a place called Alessandria this was where I was aiming for to stop tonight. The roads after Turin were pretty flat and made good time on the bike, passing through Asti then taking the wrong road so that put me behind and by the time I was getting into Alessandria it was dark. I looked up hotels on my phone and rang through to one that come up, I managed to book in over the phone, so I knew i had a place to stay and probably get some good food and drink again. I eventually arrived at the hotel, and the concierge welcomed me in, I said I'm very thirsty, I had drunk all my water on the way into town, he quickly brought my a bottle of water, I thought Great service until I thought that will be on the bill when checking out tomorrow :-(
I checked in and removed the panniers and took them to my room and started my nightly ritual, showered and changed then back downstairs and looking for food and drink, I didn't have far to go as the reception guy said there was a pizza place just at the side of the hotel outside. Not far to go and I'm ordering a pizza (My first Pizza in Italy!) and it was fantastico :-) and the wine was too.. bedtime followed a few hours after.