Go watch Andor, it is amazing!

November9

I love Star Wars. I wrote to George Lucas when I was a kid, asking when he would make the prequels. He wrote back, and it is one of the few keepsakes I kept over the years.

So it made me sad that almost all the modern Star Wars movies are so bad. The only good one is Rogue 1. The rest are bad writing and bad storytelling. I even tried the new Obi-Wan series and gave up after three episodes. It could have been great; instead, it belly-flopped onto my screen.

So at first, I ignored my brother’s pleas to watch Andor. He told me it was not just good; it was REALLY good. I finally sat down to watch it, and he was right. It is fantastic storytelling, it is beautifully shot, and it has meaning. They actually know how to use a pause, how to make every word count, and how to tell a story without beating you over the head with it. Please go watch it!

I am so tired of the Marvel trash that looks and feels like a movie but has no plot, no characters, and no meaning. A huge chunk of modern movies are like movie mannequins, they look and sound like movies, but they lack the spirit of movies; they lack humanity. I can enjoy one of those empty, vapid “movies” occasionally, but now it seems like that is 75% of what they make.

I am looking forward to the next episode of Andor. I will watch anything Tony Gilroy is involved with and send him my heart filled thanks for making a real story.

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Via Francigena summary :)

October31

What a fantastic ride :)

The weather was surreal. I had two days of rain, but otherwise, it was in the 70s and sublime. This is not normal, although, with global warming, it might be the new normal.

Italy is beautiful, the food was amazing, and the people were very kind. I would love to go back and explore some of the cities along the route more. I really enjoyed Aosta, Pontremoli, Lucca, and Siena. I’d also like to explore Rome but with tour guides who can help explain what I see (Rome also comes off slightly as a dumpster fire).

By the numbers…

I rode 999km over 57 hours and 16 minutes, spread out over 18 riding days. That is an average of 55.5km a day. I gained a total of 10,976m in altitude. 

My average KM/H was 17.4 (which is awesome compared to the 14.9 on my previous tour). I did a much better job training and was ready for this tour.

This was the first tour where I didn’t max myself out physically. I paced myself and didn’t do anything too crazy. A big part of this was I had a brand new seat I’d never ridden on, as my seat broke right before my tour. I was worried I might have a lot of butt issues if I pushed too hard (butt issues are the worst when biking).

The longest riding day was 75km and 1346m in gain. I was pretty spent after that day, but the rest were pretty even. 

I have mixed emotions as I really like finding the edges. But I think this trip was for the better as I also needed a vacation. I had a ton of time to read, enjoy the sun, and pace things. Next time I will go for some much longer days, I think. 

How does this compare to previous tours?

Packing? A+

I did a great job packing versus previous tours (not too much and not too heavy). I need to add some super lightweight tennis shoes as walking in my bike shows around town hurt my Achilles. I packed a nice pair of light weight pants I could have taken out. I also didn’t wear my long bike pants, given the warm weather. But they were nice to have. I was very happy with the new waterproof coat Lindsey got me! It would be nice not to carry a laptop at some point; that adds a chunk of weight. At one point, I rode up 200m to get groceries, and it was so much easier without bags :).

Random?

  • I saw two snakes.
  • Being motivated to work while doing a bike tour is hard. The rest days helped me get fully caught up.
  • Lots of pilgrims on the road; I saw 50+. I talked to 2 cycle pilgrims as well.

Aosta & bus ride

Yesterday I rode for 12 hours on a bus from Rome to Aosta. This method worked pretty well, although I had to store my bike under the bus. It seems ok, though. The 2nd bus I changed to said I didn’t have a bike spot reserved, but once I showed them the invoice, they waived it. The seat on the first bus sucked, but my back felt fine (go rehab and bike riding!). This might be a good method in the future if I can’t do circular routes…

I am in Aosta for a full day, and I will start driving home tomorrow :)

Aosta is one cool town with lots of Roman history, and I spent the morning in churches, crypts, and museums (with the snowy alps in the distance).

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Last Day – Day 23 of the Via Francigena (33km)

October31

33km / 1 hours 43 minutes / 209m gain

A super easy last day. I made it to Rome :)

The weather was beautiful, and the traffic wasn’t terrible since it was Saturday. I was at my hotel by 1200 and spent the rest of the day wandering around my little neighborhood. I wasn’t feeling the huge crowds, so I didn’t do much touristy stuff. Just had a chill day. Especially as I woke up at 630 to catch a 12 hour bus ride back to Aosta.

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Day 22 of the Via Francigena (53km)

October28

53km / 3 hours 12 minutes / 776m gain

Nice easy ride today. It was through many beautiful backroads, and I saw quite a few pilgrims. You couldn’t ask for better weather.

Today was also an amazing pizza day :). Breakfast was really lacking at my B&B, so I stopped in the morning at the bakery just as a 7-foot-long pizza came out of the oven. It was utterly amazing. Then I stopped again for lunch, and it was equally amazing. So good!!!

I am a little sad; today was my last real ride, and tomorrow I have a short ride, and I get to Rome. I can’t believe the trip is almost over; it has been fantastic.

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Day 21 of the Via Francigena (42km)

October27

42km / 2 hours 48 minutes / 806m gain

A pretty easy day, although there was quite a bit more elevation gain than I thought. Drivers are definitely getting worse the closer I get to Rome. At least 40% of today was back dirt roads which was great, and then some busier roads. The scenery was beautiful and the weather is surreal, mid seventies and sunny (is it almost November??!?).

I thought I took more pictures today, but not sure where they want.

I also finally figured something out. I’ve been noticing that my left knee has dark stains under the kneecap. But never on my right leg. I finally realize it is from the tailpipe and right wheel of cars. How disgusting is that? I look forward to all cars being electric. The amount of oil on my biking shoes is also gross; they are very slick and disgusting.

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Day 18/19/20 (rest days)

October26

I am running ahead of my schedule, so I took 3 rest days at a beautiful Airbnb next to Lake Bolsena.

What a great idea!!!! I feel so much better. Plus, I was way behind on work as I always forget how hard it is to want to be on a keyboard after you are exhausted from your ride for the day.

Day 1 – I was exhausted. Somehow I managed to work half the day. Then I read 3 fun books, cooked, and did a little laundry. I ate a family pack of broccoli as I miss veggies. It is hard to get veggies on long bike rides; Italy is better than most.

Day 2 – I felt like I got hit by a train and laid on the couch for the entire day. I seriously couldn’t lift a finger.

Day 3 – I felt fully energized and totally caught up on work. I am looking forward to getting back on the bike tomorrow.

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Day 17 of the Via Francigena (55km)

October24

55km / 3 hours 44 minutes / 970m gain

A beautiful ride today, and I felt great. There were some big hills, but the gradient felt a little more manageable, and I didn’t need to take many breaks.

I had lunch in the medieval town above my Airbnb, and it was one of the best meals I’ve had. I started with a Caprese salad, followed by “Grannie’s” pasta of some kind, then a steak covered in lard and a big pile of spinach. My new rule is that if there is anything on the menu called “grandma’s,” I order it.

Now I am at a little Airbnb for 3 days of rest as I’ve been making good time. I’ve only got 2 or 3 more days of riding until Rome and the end of my trip. This has been an amazing ride :).

Key note: always check the altitude of your Airbnb if you are on a bike tour. To get to the grocery store and town, I have to ride 200m from my Airbnb… I didn’t realize it was going to be that steep. Not too hard, but kinda hilarious to be going up again when I wanted a rest.

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Day 16 of the Via Francigena (47km)

October24

47km / 2 hours 57 minutes / 767m gain

Today was beautiful, but the first with headwinds. As I got toward the top of the ridge/mountain, the wind gusts were so bad when I had my bike turned into them; they knocked me 2 feet over if I wasn’t careful. Luckily it was Sunday, so there were not many cars. Fun ride, and the medieval town at the top was fantastic. I should have stopped for lunch but kept going down the other side and had lunch at the little B&B I was staying at. I chatted with an Italian cyclist doing part of it as well (he lives in Sicily). 

 

 

 

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Day 15 of the Via Francigena (56km)

October24

56km / 3 hours 23 minutes / 935m gain

More hills and just a beautiful ride again :). A lot of gravel which I like as well. I was pretty shot by the end of this ride. I had a good but expensive lunch and laid down and read. I had zero energy…

Two maps today with how the gpx file worked out…

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Day 14 of the Via Francigena in Siena (rest)

October24

Siena is a stunning city! I can’t imagine walking through something like that in medieval times. The city feels kinda claustrophobic as it is just a vertical skyscraper on the hill with amazing little alleys everywhere.

I was pretty shot, but I wandered all over. Their main church is unbelievably beautiful. The difference between German and Italian churches is hilarious, one is stark and minimalist, and the other is crammed with as much art and decoration as humanly possible.

I hope to return one day, as I would love to see Lucca, Siena, and Pontremoli again. Lindsey and I have talked about walking this route :).

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Day 13 of the Via Francigena (75km)

October19

75km / 4 hours 38 minutes / 1,346m gain

Today’s ride kicked my ass.

I beat the ascent record I set last week and am very tired. The last 15km were tough. I gave several small prayers that there was nothing over a 7% gradient. I also think I saw a sign that I am 300km from Rome (getting close)!

That said, the ride was amazing, and the type of rolling hills you see in movies about Italy. Eye candy everywhere you looked. Over the last week, I’ve been reading a series of historical fiction books that are largely set in Italy. It has been cool to read about Italy and connect some of the old houses to what I see around me.

I made it to Siena, Italy, and tomorrow is a rest day so that I can explore this city. I’ve always wanted to visit ever since I read/edited Rachel’s thesis about Siena in college (although asking me to edit is like asking a blind person to paint, I think). I rallied and visited an amazing church after I got it in, wandered a bit, and had a few drinks on a terrace while reading. Nice night!

Here is part 1 and 2 as I broke my GPS file in two with how things hit today.

 

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Day 12 of the Via Francigena (64km)

October19

64km / 3 hours 27 minutes / 541m gain

A beautiful ride. I ended up at a little agri-tourism apartment and enjoyed a wonderful dinner by the host, (they also run a small restaurant in the evenings). I also bought some of their cheese as it is delicious.

Some shots below of a beautiful medieval road I road on (bumpy but fun). I don’t really take pictures of the busy roads I ride on, and today wasn’t too bad.

 

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Day 11 of the Via Francigena (63km)

October17

63km / 3 hours 41 minutes / 635m gain

Today was a beautiful ride!

Once I arrived, I explored this AMAZING city called Lucca. It is a walled city and a blast to walk around and explore.

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Day 10 of the Via Francigena (66km)

October16

66km / 3 hours 47 minutes / 837m gain

Such a beautiful ride. Tuscany is amazing, and I am really enjoying Italy.

I had a big climb over the first part of the day. The roads were totally clear of traffic, and it was old back roads. Sunday also helps with that. I was drenched with sweat by the time I got over the top.

As I came down the other side, I could smell the sea; it was amazing. I had a wonderful lunch that started with octopus in a type of potato puree (amazing). Then house-made ravioli and a dessert you can see below. I had a glass of local white wine as well. I stopped off at some Roman ruins as well.

I am spent and very tired. I am looking forward to a comfy bed and some good sleep as tomorrow is a long one as well.

Tomorrow I head to Lucca, a walled city. I will do ~62km and 690m of elevation. I am looking forward to exploring Lucca and stocking up on some groceries when I get there.

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Day 9 of the Via Francigena in Pontremoli (rest)

October15

I could easily stay here for a week; my AirBNB is quiet, calm, and has an amazing view.

I am in Pontremoli, Italy, for a rest day. It is nice not to have to wash all your clothes by hand in a sink. I also bought two huge bags of veggies to eat!

I spent last night buying some groceries, having a rum and coke, washing clothes, and catching up on work that I can’t avoid. This morning I walked down and explored the town and castle overlooking it. It was magnificent.

The cast is fantastic, as you can explore the entire thing! And the bulk of it is a museum showing the area’s amazing sculptures from the Bronze Age. Here is more info on the museum, it is so cool to see these mysterious figures that are about 4 feet high and from 3,000 to 6,000 years ago…

Love this town!

This area is highly sought after as a key gateway, so the town has been controlled/owned by just about everyone. The history was insane as people bought it, gifted it, conquered it, etc…

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This is bwb’s personal blog so he can share his thoughts with the world, however scary or silly they might be. Plus family and friends can track what I am up too, and where I am in the world.

I am pretty simple. I love Mangos. I love the ocean, although mostly at sunset as I’m a ginger. I love to travel, eat exotic food, read, and use my imagination. I love creating and developing ideas into businesses, understanding how all businesses work, and building cool stuff. I am a globalist and see the entire world as my responsibility and playground. And, I am married to an amazing woman who makes life even more fun :)! And, we are now the proud parents of Calico Jack :).


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