Today, the first proper day of the trip, was a scorcher. On paper it didn’t look too difficult - wind out of Milan, gentle gradient for a while, gentle downhill, gentle gradient for 30 km, and then wicked fast downhill. But what made today more difficult than it should have been was the heat. We essentially rode in air at body temperature, which is really hard to do. The sweat doesn’t evaporate properly and pools and runs instead. On top of that the sun beat down hard, and there was surprisingly little shade - even along the old farm roads which took us to the passes. Usually these are lined with bent and crooked oaks or solider like cypress trees. But today, nothing to help us out.
The roads we rode were a beautiful mix - and a great example of why bike touring is such fun. You can be on a cycle path in Milan, turn and dive down onto a towpath, which becomes a path through some woods, then some gravel , then some dirt, back on the road. A real mix all the while staying away from major roads but still finding the little classic towns in which to find the piazza, find the bar/restaurant and settle in for a light lunch (I’m looking at you Mendisio).
It was a slog, especially the last 5 km where you were almost there, but the views from the top of the hairpins, or of the lake shining crystal blue, but with heat have shimmering above, or of the elderly people all over whizzing around on their eBikes. All those views make the travel worth while.
I even managed to find a cheese plate to have withy Aperol Spritz. A local alpkase from Ticino ( very good) a 24 month Comte (yup) a robiola, probably goat (classic) and a ‘Irish’ blue cheese which was heavy on the annatto (Shropshire blue isn’t Irish, but that’s ok).
A long day, a cold glass of Aperol, and some cheese will make me forget this small transgression.
Tomorrow the real work begins - off to Tavanassa over the Lukmanier Pass!