Day Two – Tuesday March 18th – the Valley of the Dogs

Did you know there’s a mountain range that runs the middle of Italy??? Dang.

Day two started with a delicious breakfast and I was ready to go! There was a LOT of climbing to be done. It was difficult but I think for me there is something inherently rewarding in working so hard and getting to ride through the places I’ve been. The downhills never last and the uphills never end. I’ve come to accept that as graciously as I can, hehe.
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Time stopped, or at least it didn’t care about me, nor I it. Moments of fog swept hills giving way to towering mountains above or the glimpse of an old stone town in a valley. Moss covered fields underneath rows of olive branches and grapevines. Green on the ground, brown in the trees, spring teasing the branches. Roads that at times might have been made just for me and my bike and that moment, in that perfect moment. The type of moment where each inhale feels like life and chills of wonder and gratitude wash over me again and again. A smile that won’t go away and a peace and quiet like only nature brings. A road inviting me to see what’s at the top or bottom. A dilapidated building with a space above the door where a sign told people what it was, back when this road was the main road, when people didn’t go faster than a horse.
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The weather was perfect and so I thought I would push hard for the day. I did pretty well considering the elevation on a fully loaded bike. But by the time I found a place to stop for the night I was shaky and feeling pretty awful. I found a pizzeria and recovered for a couple hours. By that time it was night and I had not set up or found a place to camp. Against my better judgement I rode out of town into the dark.

I was nervous at first but my bicycle lights are very bright and it soon became apparent that there were no cars on this road. It was smooth and the moon hung bright in the sky illuminating a city on the hill in the distance. I could see the ridge of the mountain range and thought to myself that if I was going to get stuck with a night ride, this was a really good one to be stuck with. Also it turns out that all the climbing seemed to be leading to this downhill so in fact I barely pedaled and just cruised and enjoyed for what seemed like a long time.
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The walls on the side of the road were tall and steep and there were no suitable camping spots. I finally found what seemed like the perfect spot. There was a tool shed across the street from a house. Behind, a space just large enough for my tent. I thought that if I left at sunrise no one would know and it would be fine.

Then, the dogs.

As I set up camp one dog started barking. An alerted bark to be sure. As another dog and another joined the chorus I got a little nervous. In about ten minutes I would be using Google Translate to tell a young boy that I was sorry about the dogs and I don’t know where else I can go because it’s dangerous to ride. “Sorry” is all he could say. I told him that if his father or anyone had a problem with me camping there to please come and see me. I was essentially saying that I wasn’t leaving. I’m not sure he understood and of it. I went back to my tent. The chorus continued.

I’m not sure if they fell asleep first or I did, but suffice to say I was anxious about the whole thing. Their sound echoed through the valley and I was sure that every dog owner around was wondering what was going on. No guitar tonight.

Nonetheless, I woke up at dawn and packed up. Ready for another climb.

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2 comments

  1. oh boy, i hope your folks dont read this, they would be so nervous!! sounds like the dogs just knew there was a stranger in their midst. glad you made it ok. The views of the countryside are beautiful, red buds in bloom and green grass. so nice!

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  2. That’s a pretty great story. The only thing that would have made it better is if instead of dogs, it was a herd of alert cats. Angry Italian meowing. Keep up the good work and keep the stories comin

    Like

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