The headwaters of the Po - An Autumn by the Sea - CycleBlaze

October 26, 2018

The headwaters of the Po

(Note: the entry is complete now, save for captions.  I just left the first shot at a narrative as it was because it was easier and I’m a bit lazy.)

For now, this is an incomplete entry: no photographs, incomplete narrative.  The WiFi isn’t strong enough in our room here to upload photos, so I’ll come back later.  I’ll make a note on a later entry when this is done, as a hook for folks to come back and look again.

We checked out of our convent/resort hotel this morning, but left our luggage there while we left for a day ride.  At the end of the day we checked in at our new lodging, a lovely B&B down in town, and then climbed back up to the convent to retrieve our left luggage.  It was a long climb up and down (about 300 stair steps each way), and our arms were aching by the time we were done; but it made more sense than pushing our bikes up the cobblestones.

The weather has radically changed overnight.  Yesterday, biking in, we had nearly clear skies and great views of the mountains.  Today, it was foggy and gray all day with limited visibility.  Tomorrow, a major storm front will move across the region and bring northern Italy its first real precipitation in months.  One to two inches of rain are predicted Monday, and possible flooding.  

The front looks like it will hang over the region for most of next week, so we’re considering our options.  A bit of rain here and there is one thing.  A week of it is another.  Too long to just sit around in a small town in our room, so we’re planning an urban interlude - a good opportunity to check out the museums that we never make the time for.  Tomorrow we plan to bike to Turin (and hopefully beat the rain) and stay there for three nights; and assuming we’re still under the weather after that we’ll take the train from Turin to Genoa down on the coast for another few days of urban sightseeing before picking up with the bikes again and heading west toward France.

Oh yeah - the ride.  Even though it was grey and coolish, we had a great one today.  We biked west up the Po River toward Monviso (the local name for Monte Viso), seeking its headwaters.  We didn’t get quite that far, but the largest river in Italy was just a small mountain stream by the time we turned back.  And we didn’t see Monviso at all - too cloudbound perhaps, or maybe we were just in too deep and narrow of a canyon.  We did see some glorious fall foliage though, that grew better with each mile we climbed.  And some cows, but we’re past being excited by that for awhile now.

For now, here’s a video and the map.  More to come.

OK.  We’re in Torino now, and our WiFi is just fine.  Not too much more to say about the ride, but it really had two halves (well, three halves if we include the fast ride back down).  For the first half, we gained a fairly modest amount of elevation until reaching Paesana.  About half of the time we were on the main road with the cars (not many, this early in the day), and half on lanes and paths.  The lanes were best, of course.  We stopped for an unplanned lunch in Paesana, because there was a morning market just closing up when we arrived.  One of the vans was selling grilled chicken, which I just had to have.  We sat against the church wall, Rachael eating the meal we’d brought along, and I the chicken; and then a second, when it couldn’t help myself.

The second half was a steadily amplifying climb, and the most dramatic part of the ride.  We didn’t have a set distance in mind, knowing we didn’t have time to bike to the end of the road, four thousand feet above town.  Instead, we time boxed ourselves, tending back at 2:30 so we would get back to town before it got too late, dim, and cold.

The third half was pretty uneventful, and fast.  It didn’t take us long to knock off the twenty mile return ride, and we arrived at our new room by 4.

And yes, I know.  I was a math major in college after all, and I still remember that it only takes two halves to make a whole.  I just thought it sounded funny.

Leaving the cloister. The bell tower is San Giorgio Church. It doesn’t chime though. I wasn’t sure whether to be relieved by this or saddened.
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Leaving Saluzzo, following the Po up into the mountains. Oddly, this stretch reminded me of the Willamette Valley - fog, blueberry plantings, and hazlenut groves.
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Just an old wagon
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Super squash
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I love the color of this plant. I think Andrea told me what it was before, but of course I forget.
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Andrea BrownIt looks like an amaranth, very cool.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Andrea BrownOh, of course. I think we saw one of these in Crete back in April. Quite different tough. It’s amazing how much variety there is is in the family.
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1 month ago
Well worth a mile of rough road to avoid the highway for a ways.
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So where do bees go in the winter? Do they all fly south?
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Bruce LellmanFinally, a bee hive shot.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanYup! Just for you. I’ve had my eye out for awhile.
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1 month ago
Late bloomer - a soapwort, per Bill
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Bill ShaneyfeltLooks like soapwort.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saponaria_officinalis
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1 month ago
Bill ShaneyfeltLooks like soapwort.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saponaria_officinalis
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1 month ago
In Paesana. Rachael looks content enough, but she should have had the roasted chicken.
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After Paesana, the climb begins in earnest, steepening as we go.
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The mighty Po starts here. Close to here anyway, and close enough for us. We don’t have time to climb another few thousand feet to get to the source itself.
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I’m mad about this photo. Rachael walked up off the road for a bit (it’s opposite the bridge in back), saw this neat older bridge, and didn’t tell me about it so she could keep it to herself. I didn’t learn of it until we looked at her photos later.
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Here’s the shot I took, and was pretty happy with at the time. Who’d suspect there’s a second, older bridge hiding behind it?
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Ride stats today: 41 miles, 3,100’

Today's ride: 41 miles (66 km)
Total: 1,979 miles (3,185 km)

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Comment on this entry Comment 1
Jen Grumby"Third half" .. love it!
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1 month ago