Day ride from Mantova - An Autumn by the Sea - CycleBlaze

October 7, 2018

Day ride from Mantova

The morning gets off to a poor start.  We’re in another apartment where we’ve been left to prepare our own breakfast; and, amazingly enough, once again we can’t make coffee.  We even have two choices this time - a percolator that we can’t operate because it’s another gas range but I can’t get the lighter to work; and there’s a complicated electric coffee brewer that doesn’t work either.  Quite frustrating.

At least, we both made it into and out of the bathroom this morning without braining ourselves on its low beam.

It’s a layover day, and we could just go out and have a look at this famous historical city we’ve landed in.  That’s not for us though - it’s a beautiful day, and we have to ride.  I’ve picked a loop that goes south along the last miles of the Mincio and then along the mighty Po for a ways - a bit less than forty miles, flat.  It should go quickly and we’ll be back in the early afternoon with plenty of time and energy to see the sights -even considering that we don’t get started until close to 11, for no really good reason.  Such slugs!

It doesn’t go like that though.  First, the bike path along the Mincio south of Mantova turns out to be exactly that - a path.  A narrow dirt path through the grass, with the occasional muddy stretch.  We bag that at the first opportunity, and eventually work our way to the Po on a nice canalside lane.  It goes slower than we expected, so suddenly it looks like we need a lunch plan because we won’t get back to Mantova in time for that.  We soon come to a riverside village, Governolo, that is just barely large enough to serve.  We come away from it’s small market with slices of a pizza-like thing, a few cookies, a package of breseola and an apple.

After feasting in the town park we bike out of town and back up onto the Po cycle path, which here is part of EuroVelo 8.  We’re off my premapped route now, so we don’t have a fixed itinerary to tell us how far to go.  After a few miles we stop to talk it over.  Turn back here, or keep riding along the river to the next bridge so we can return along the right bank instead of just backtrack?

We bike on.  It’s just too nice a day - sunny, calm, warm, perfect; and the riverside landscape is starting to grow on us.  The next bridge is another eight miles downriver, but the flat miles go down easily.  When we get there, we’re happy to see that the bridge is fine for bikes.  We cross over and return west along the south bank, finding it as pleasant a ride as the north side.  

The view from our fourth floor apartment in Mantua. Doesn’t it look like one of these two structures must be tilted?
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Steve Miller/GrampiesAt first I thought that if both presumably point to heaven, then by extending their angles you could locate that magical place. But no, checking our records, we see that both buildings are in fact straight. So that would put heaven at an infinite distance, which theologically speaking might be more in line.

See: https://www.cycleblaze.com/journals/rideagain/day-45-ostiglia-to-montova/#7021_2435128_DSCN4059_mantova_zed20150904_230715_30p
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesThanks for researching this, Steve. I took a few different photos of it, and they all look like this. Optical allusion, I guess.
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2 months ago
The steep, difficult trek to our fourth floor apartment wore us down, but not our young, spry hostess who sprinted up and down them with ease, making us both feel envious. Especially impressive: that dark object on the third floor landing is a baby carriage.
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The road surface around the ducal palace is the least bikeable we’ve found in a city center anywhere.
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Kathleen ClassenWe first saw this surface in Spilimbergo and then again in Treviso. We discovered in Treviso it isn’t particularly friendly to walk on either! Especially when slippery from the rain 😬.
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Kathleen ClassenThey’re slippery, alright. We crossed these when we arrived in the rain, and didn’t care for it much. I guess this is just the natural native material down here in the river bottom.
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2 months ago
South of Mantova, the quality of the Mincio bike path drops off just a bit.
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Lake Inferiore (lower lake), one of the three artificial lakes that flank Mantova. They were created when the Mincio was rerouted in 1198 to create natural defenses for the newly free city.
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It’s still a bit foggy along the river. It made me wish we’d gotten out the door a bit earlier.
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For most of the way from Mantova to the banks of the Po River we followed a small lane beside this narrow canal. Very pleasant riding.
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We passed miles of poplar plantations today as we rode along the Po.
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From a distance, this public works structure looked like bit like a chateau on the Loire.
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Finally we arrive at the mighty Po, which we’ll follow for the next two days also. Here we’re riding east on the north bank of the river, on EuroVelo 8. For the most part it’s reasonably paved, but there are moments like this too.
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The bike routes here are well marked, with occasional regional maps to keep you oriented.
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The route is well marked, although you have to pay attention to spot all the signs.
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There is a quiet beauty to the ultraflat land along the lower Po. The longer we rode here, the more it grew on me.
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Most of our ride along the Po was atop this dike, about thirty feet above the plain.
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The skyline of Ostiglia, a small riverside town and our turnaround point. We biked this far to reach its bridge across the river so that we could return along the right (south) bank.
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Crossing the Po, across the bridge between Ostiglia and Revere. We appreciated having a separate lane, but would also liked it if the railing were just a bit higher. It’s a long way down.
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The lower Po is a wide, slow moving giant with almost no perceptible current.
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Dropping from the bridge to the bike path. We could have biked a bit further to a road that circled down and back, but where’s the fun in that?
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Returning west, on the south bank bike path. Like the West Bank, the route is mostly along the dike top, on a variable surface - sometimes well paved, sometimes a bit less so, sometimes not at all.
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Along the right bank of the Po
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Along the right bank of the Po
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Along the right bank of the Po
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Typical scenery along the Po: a large sand bar in the middle of the river, and poplars lining the banks.
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Along the right bank of the Po
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The final ten miles were a backtrack of this morning’s route.  We’re getting tired, a bit saddle weary and a bit anxious to get back, so I didn’t stop for photos.  We did pause to watch a large nutria paddle across a canal and into the undergrowth, followed by some very strange squealing the likes of which we’ve never heard.  I need to read up on the sounds of nutria.

We arrived in Mantova about four, and were stunned to find its core filled wall to wall with people.  For several blocks we had to dismount and walk slowly and patiently through the dense throng of folks oozing past before. It finally thinned out a bit.  I really should have pulled the camera out for a picture of the mob scene, but we were both focused on just plowing through.

And, after we got back to our room I should have summoned up a bit more energy to walk town our steep stairs to walk around the town myself, but didn’t.  It was just too comfortable sitting around waiting for the dinner hour.  There’s still tomorrow morning.

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Ride stats today: 55 miles, 600’

Today's ride: 55 miles (89 km)
Total: 1,328 miles (2,137 km)

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