To Pesaro - Balkan Dreams - CycleBlaze

October 15, 2020

To Pesaro

The race comes to Croatia

I awoke from another crazed dream sequence a few nights ago, one I want to remember.  I was surprised to find that both Biden and Trump had come to Croatia during the campaign, and were finding quite different experiences.

Things were looking up for the former Vice President - way up.  He was riding his bicycle, racing up a mountain pass.  Beside him was a group of hecklers racing beside him, like obnoxious fans at the Tour de France.  They were jeering him for wearing a face mask, shouting at him to take it off.  He calmly ignored them and gradually pulled away, continuing on the ascent.

Trump was going in the other direction, even more rapidly.  He was the captain of a luge team, barreling down a sinuous, icy chute at breakneck speed.  At one bend the luge went briefly airborne, soared above the wall  and then dropped back into the track.  A neat trick!  Then though, it went seriously airborne, perhaps rising 20 feet in the air before landing on the top of the sidewall with a thud.  Trump hopped out, surprisingly unhurt, and hobbled down in the same manner that he tottered off the ramp to much ridicule a month ago.

A prophesy?  A cold day in Hell?  Regardless, it must be time to move on.  If the campaign is coming to Croatia, let’s go to Italy.

Crossing the Adriatic

Leaving Croatia was more memorable than we expected it to be.  It started just as planned, with Rachael wheeling our two suitcases down to the ship while I came behind with both bicycles.  We’re taking the suitcases with us because it turns out that it’s quite difficult and expensive to ship internationally now because of Covid restrictions.  Instead, we’re taking them across the border ourselves and will ship them to Brindisi tomorrow from a DHL outlet in Ancona.

A good thing that it’s a short, downhill walk to the ferry terminal.
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Let’s Split!
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Ticketing went smoothly.  Our profiled self-declaration forms were accepted and I was congratulated for having done the work and research in advance.  Every other person in line ahead of me was surprised by the requirement and went through a lengthy interview while they completed the form at the counter.

There’s a cap on ridership on this ferry now to limit Covid risk, so it’s a surprise to find two others queued up outside that we quickly formed a bond with.  One, Colleen from Los Angeles, I had expected to see here because I’ve been dialoging with her on a Croatian travel chat board about whether she could take this ferry.  The other, Paulo, arrived by bicycle, nearing the end of a ride from his latest job in Krakow to his home in Abruzzo.  

We enjoyed a lively conversation while we waited to board, and then proceeded to our tiny berths.  Just as we were reaching our room though, I panicked when I realized I was missing my backpack.  I had left it behind, presumably when I took it off to take out our passports for boarding.  I must have been distracted by the conversation.  

I raced back off the ship and quickly scanned everywhere I’d been - by the gate where we’d been waiting, at the ticket counter, at the bar where we stopped for a drink.  Disheartened, I headed back toward the ship when I saw it this time at the waiting area, leaning against the back of a motorcycle.  Ugh!  It wouldn’t have been a total catastrophe to lose it - I had the passports, my wallet and phone with me - but both iPads and my camera were in the bag.

What 1,500 kuna (about $250) will buy you.
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The crossing was about as you’d expect in a tiny, very cramped space.  Rachael slept quite well at least, but we were both happy when a rap on our door indicated it was time to get up.  After leaving the room we enjoyed continuing our visits with Colleen and Paolo, and then proceeded to the car deck when the ferry reached port.

It’s raining hard out  when we leave the ship, as expected.  It’s due to dry out in a few hours, but we have some time to kill after leaving customs.  Colleen goes one way, for foot passengers; and we follow Paolo through the car line, where bicycles are also supposed to go for some reason.  At first they try to separate Rachael and I, because I have both bicycles.  They won’t let us come together until we rearrange ourselves and Rachael wheels her own bike.

But that’s not the crazy part.  The crazy part is that they don’t think we, as Americans, are allowed entry.  It doesn’t matter that I show the agent our self declaration forms, which are pretty clear.  She calls her supervisor and then, keeping our passports, points us to stand off to the side.

The short story for this little drama is that after what feels like an anxious half hour and three agents later, we are allowed entry and our stamped passports are returned to us.  It helped greatly that Colleen had a printed copy of the current Italian regulations, and that Paolo could function as our interpreter.  A friend in need is a friend indeed!

Sharing photos with Paolo.
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Waiting to disembark with Colleen.
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Paolo and his bike.
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Once it was apparent that we were going to be granted entry, I took a chance and sneaked a photo. I wasn’t sure this would even be OK, so it’s rushed and blurry. I was sorry I didn’t wait longer, because then the agent looked up, smiled, and pantomimed as though he was putting manacles on Rachael.
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A photo of the four of us, from Colleen’s Instagram account.
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Jen GrumbyThat brings tears to my ears!
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbySorry to bring you such pain! It does have a nice ring to it though. Living their nomadic dreams - that’s us!
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1 week ago
Jen GrumbyMostly tears of joy on account of y'all's connection.

But also tears of sadness at the thought of masks being the current "normal".
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1 week ago

Today’s ride

Leaving the port, we walked over to the nearest cafe for coffee and focaccia as we waited for the skies to clear.  We have to wait around until 9 regardless, because that’s when the DHL outlet opens so I can drop off the suitcases.  Other than that though, we’re anxious to be moving.  Paolo has a long 150 km ride home ahead of him, and Colleen is anxious to see if she can continue on from here to Greece, her preferred destination.

All goes well - the coffee and focaccia are good and help us warm up (it’s surprisingly cold this morning); Colleen finds that she can indeed sail to Greece, and there’s a departure for Igoumenitsa tonight; and the rains finally do cease, by about 11.  As soon as it stops, we make a break for it.

Meeting up with Colleen and Paolo like this was really a special encounter, unlike any other we’ve had on the road.  They felt like kindred spirits, and we were quite taken with both of their stories.  Colleen is really a free spirit, seemingly just going whichever way the wind blows or her fancy takes her.  She stayed on the tiny island of Vis off the coast from Split for most of the last month, soaking in the ambiance and sea kayaking.  Paolo is in the investments business, and spends most of his time in Asia, primarily in Thailand.  His ride from Krakow is his first long bike trip.  He needed to get home, and on a whim just decided to bike it.

We don’t trust the break in the weather to hold through the afternoon so we bike steadily all the way to Pesaro, with our only stop a brief one to use the facilities in the Fano train station and discuss whether to catch a train for the final eight miles since it is in fact raining by now.

The ride is much better than we expected.  I was afraid most of it would be on the busy SS16 coast road, but we’re seldom on it.  Most of the time we’re on the quiet lungomare between the rail line and the sea, or on high quality bike lanes that look quite new; but for about a half mile we’re slowly plowing our bikes through the deep, soft layer of rocks on a shingle beach.  The final eight miles are beautiful, on what looks like a brand new bike path, but there are no photos of it because it rained the whole way.

One last mishap in the day - in the Fano train station Rachael realized she is missing her hiking shoes.  They must still be on a table outside that cafe back in Ancona.  Rachael’s first errand after checking in and warming up in the shower is to head out to the shoe store.  She’ll need a new pair eventually, and her bike shoes are soaked so she might as well do it now.

Pesaro is very cool.  Also very bike friendly.  I’m sorry our cameras were stashed away in a dry spot, because otherwise I would have tried to take a photo of the people biking through old town protecting themselves with umbrellas.  We’ll be here two nights, so we’ll look around tomorrow.

We left Ancona as soon as the skies began to clear.
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Looking back at Ancona.
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One last look back at Ancona, from about the only rise of the day. Once we drop to the sea again, the last 35 miles are almost completely flat.
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North of Ancona, we’re on the SS16 for a few miles. It’s busier than it looks here.
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Much of the day’s ride was like this, passing through an almost continuous series of seaside resorts and communities, the shore lined with small bath houses.
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There was this memorable stretch though, listed on our Garmin map as a ‘path’.
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We’ve biked (or pushed our bikes) across a wide variery of surfaces by now. We’d rank shingle beaches as very low on the pushability scale.
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At least there was only a half mile of this. Almost anything is bearable for a half mile.
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There are quite a few miles that look like this. For about 25 miles it’s quite a nice ride, with only a few missing gaps that throw you back on the highway. Much better than we’d been expecting.
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The view across the Adriatic. This in the sunny direction. The look to the northwest, where our weather is coming from, looks pretty dire. We’ll be well soaked by the time we pull up in Pesaro.
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Video sound track: Bodas de Oro, by Ry Cooder and Manuel Galban

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Ride stats today: 43 miles, 1,200’; for the tour: 1565 miles, 74,600’

Today's ride: 43 miles (69 km)
Total: 1,565 miles (2,519 km)

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Bob DistelbergBiden and Trump, one going up and one going down. No symbolism there... :-)
Great to hear that you made it to your next destination without too much hassle.
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Bob DistelbergIsn’t the brain an amazing thing though? What a scenario to conjure up.
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1 week ago
Jen GrumbyThat was one heck of a dream!

Love the story about Colleen and Paolo .. so glad you connected with them and that they were able to help you!
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1 week ago
Tricia GrahamWe just hope that that luge crashes extremely heavily
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1 week ago
Suzanne GibsonWonderful that you made it to Italy! I so envy you when I see your pictures and video of you cycling along the coast.
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1 week ago
Bruce LellmanWhat a dream!! I have dreams exactly like the reality you faced of having left your pack somewhere. I have those kinds of dreams all the time. I'm tired of them.
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanIsn’t that the strangest dream though? I couldn’t quite believe it when I woke up and reflected on it. Fingers crossed that it’s a prophesy.
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1 week ago