Pedaling Paris to Rome | All Blogs

A Baptism of Fire

By Rachel Farrington

is how our new British friends described our first week of bike touring.

In fact, with our best laid plans, we gave up touring on the bikes after only 2 weeks of riding. As my knee was almost kaput, we got our first glimpse of the Alps towering over Switzerland so high they make Telluride look like Kansas. We headed straight for the nearest Avis and rented a car. I have 1000 stories from the first 2 weeks-the highest of highs and lowest of lows- but to explain why we quit the bikes I'll describe our lowest point on the trip.

It was 9pm and we had been on our bikes in the mountains of the Black Forest for over 50 miles that day, 11 of which we spent pushing them up a 10-14% grade with a gain of over 6000ft. We had given up on finding a campsite and were desperately looking for a hotel with a vacancy and my phone was out of power because the adapter I bought was not working in Germany. Also we were on our last 100€ because our debit card didn't work at any ATM (though we were assured otherwise before we left) and we were in the process of working out another option after 10 visits to banks. Jonah spied the golden arches, which we avoid like the plague at home but his night they looked like the pearly gates. We stood in line with the assurance that we could read the menu and pay with credit and flush an American type toilet with PAPER! We sat there with legs and hands shaking, Mark bleeding from knees to socks (he took a big spill stealing an apple off a tree -Karma ), saddle sores so severe I sat on my lower back, and devoured 2BigMacs, Large Fries, Cokes, and McFlurries faster than any quasi-vegetarian health fanatics rightly should. We strongly considered pitching our tent in the brush behind the dumpster before we found the last available room in town where I cried and cursed myself to sleep.

However, with a week of fresh perspective since then, I can say that it was probably all worth it.

We did lots of things wrong and planned the wrong things, but we have had some awesome experiences. We have gone to sleep to the sounds of Parisian street musicians and awoke to the sounds of cowbells and church bells.

We have climbed he tower of an abandoned castle on our own and ridden through vineyards, orchards, and pastures galore.

The morning of our 9th anniversary we spent on top of one of the highest passes in Europe with a view of the Eiger and Wetterhorn and then spent the evening sipping champagne on the shores of Lake Como with a view of Bellaggio sparkling in the sunset.

We slept 2 nights in a 400 year old Tucsan Villa, greeted with a huge Buon Giorno and glass of homemade Chianti.

We relaxed in a pool to our own in an Olive orchard next to a white stone Umbrian villa and finally we have arrived at our farm/artist commune in the hills outside Rome 7 weeks early and hope to recuperate a bit.

I'll post about the farm life in a couple of weeks.


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