Time: 4 hours 10 minutes
Average speed: 18.7kph
Cumulative distance: 170.68km
Cumulative time: 7 hours 57 minutes
Word of the day: ‘pioggia’ (pee-odge-ee-ah) – rain
On every tour a little rain must fall. And so it proved today. It was forecast, so not a surprise, but as we left under leaden skies, it seemed inevitable that the ‘macs in sacs’ we bought in the Netherlands would be making an appearance sooner rather than later.
We stopped briefly in Ivrea to purchase some gloves for the Captain (a left and a right, what a novel idea!), and then followed the usual initial navigational faffing about with Jack the Garmin. For some reason, leaving never seems to be as easy as arriving. Roads are unexpectedly one-way in the wrong direction, or cobbled (ugh), or shut, or something. Anyway, there were lots of cheerful greetings of ‘buongiorno’ and ‘ciao’ from locals, and offers of directions, and we followed a lady on a bike who seemed to know how to find the cycle path, and then we were away.
The heavens opened, of course, and it absolutely poured. Proper rain, the sort that runs down your face and off the end of your nose in a stream. It wasn’t cold, just very, very wet. We’re wearing open ‘sandal’-style cycling shoes – it turns out these are brilliant in the rain, because it just runs out of the toes!
We headed up the first climb, towards Castellamonte, a gentle gradient, we seemed to get up it with little effort. There was plenty of time to smell the jasmine which seems to be everywhere here, and the honeysuckle.
At the top of the climb a high, narrow bridge crossed the river far below. There had obviously been some sort of incident, blue flashing lights at the other side and traffic crossing in turn, directed by carabinieri. He made us wait after we’d crossed the bridge while the traffic behind us went ahead, then we had the road to ourselves for a while as the queue of cars crossed back the other way. We descended, carefully in the wet, and then tonked along the flat for a while as the clouds lifted.
At the second climb we saw our shadows for the first time, and tried to decide whether to eat before the big climb coming up soon at 50km. We both felt fine to continue, but if you don’t eat before a big effort you do run the risk of the ‘hunger knock’ part way up – like your batteries have suddenly run down completely.
All too soon Jack was displaying unmistakeable signs of upcoming hairpin bends, and we were onto it. It was grand – we absolutely bossed it! “Not bad”, we said, smugly, and enjoyed the descent, the roads dry now, and the sun out. But wait, what are those curvy lines coming up on the map? The second half of the climb, more hairpins, a bit steeper. No problem, though, still enough in the tanks, and soon done. There were fleeting views of Turin below, away to our left, and then an interesting lunch concept – a butcher’s shop with attached grill. You choose your panino filling from his handmade sausages, hamburgers and other products, and he grills it fresh for you. Fabulous. While we waited, a friendly local from Susa who’d been having lunch chatted to us about our ‘giro d’Italia’, and recommended a local point of interest.
Just 10km to complete after lunch, mostly downhill to start with, and in no time we were knocking on the door of our friendly B&B in Rivoli, very close to the castello. It’ll be a short day to Pinerolo tomorrow, so there’ll be time for a visit to the castello before we leave.
Here’s today’s track.