Between the lakes

Day 329, Milano, 19.907 km

After the lakes in Austria, the lakes in Switzerland, here are the lakes in Italy! A must-see according to all the guidebooks I consulted before leaving, I can confirm that it is worth the detour: white swans on blue waters, with snow-covered peaks in the background and a cloudless sky above all that (not all the time but let’s pass on this detail…), all the ingredients to have a good time…

I’m going to talk about the lakes right now, and pass quite quickly on the route between Turin and Sesto Calende, on the Lake Maggiore. It can be summarized in 4 words: mud, flat, fields, ugly. To elaborate a bit (otherwise I’ll have a very small article), I leave Turin following a « bike » path: 5 km of road and 15 km of MUD. I quickly get tired of it and I follow the main road after that. It’s FLAT, quite boring. I ride along FIELDS: wheat, corn, rice, it’s quite a dull landscape. And the few villages I cross are UGLY… And as an additional proof, while I usually draw out the camera quite easily, I took only one picture of this part of the trip…

The Photo

So here I am at last at Lake Maggiore, and I spotted a « natural area » which seems to me suitable to bivouac about ten kilometers further north along the shore. When I get there, I even have the pleasant surprise to find a small beach, deserted at this time of the day, where I can refresh myself from my long day before pitching my tent for the night… A perfect plan that goes without a hitch (except for the untimely presence of mosquitoes, but I guess that unless I go back to the mountains I’ll have to get used to it…)! And as a bonus, a little ballet of fireflies when the night falls makes me slip gently into nice dreams…

Perfect place for a bivouac
Sunset

The next day, the clouds have lifted a little, and I can see the snowy peaks of the Swiss Alps in the distance while riding around the lake. The only drawback, and it’s a big one: there is no bike path at all along the shore. And as the Italians are far from being the careful drivers I was told (sorry Benoit, we didn’t meet the same ones), I have a few little scares on top of breathing exhaust fumes all day long: a truck that almost crushes me against the wall, a guy coming so fast in the other direction that I almost fall in the ditch, not to mention those who overtake me at 90 km/h in the tunnels, besides making a hell of a noise it’s also quite scary… But fortunately, the landscapes compensate all that…

When I arrive in Luino, I take the direction of Como, which implies to go along the lake of Lugano and even a small passage in Switzerland! I’ll be able to check that I’m still an expert at crossing borders and that my banker hasn’t squandered the fortune I entrusted him with. In the end, the fortune has vanished (but since it never existed, it’s not really a surprise) and the borders are still as porous as ever… No one at the entrance to Switzerland and I barely get a glance when I enter Italy again in Como… Jay and Bob laugh a lot when I tell them about restrictions… In the meantime, I also rode along the lake of Lugano, which is definitely worth a look!

Como then, and I start to ride around the lake. Still no bike path, and at the beginning a lot of villas and other luxury hotels that block the view… It gets a little better the more we go north. The weather is rather sunny, the wind pushes me, the road is relatively flat, and every time that the road offers a clear view on the lake, I have the impression that the view is even more beautiful than the time before. At the north end of the lake, we can also admire the peaks of the mountains whose-name-I-could-not-find, which look threatening with the sky turning grey, which makes them even more impressive…

I find a small private road to bivouac, the house to which it leads seems to be empty, and if ever the owners show up during the night we will try to discuss… On the other hand, I realize that I am going much faster than planned, and that at this rate I will be in Milan on Thursday, whereas I told Leo that I will meet him on Friday evening… What to do??? Fortunately, there are mountains at the edge of the lake! Besides making a small (big) detour, I’m sure I won’t go as fast as on the flat. (The idea of spending part of the day on the beach reading a book also crossed my mind, but was quickly discarded…). And here we go, almost without warming up, for 1.000 m of ascent. Fortunately I do it at the beginning of the day, it’s not too hot yet ! Beautiful views on the lake while climbing, on small villages perched on the mountainside in the middle of the forest at the top, and again beautiful views on the lake while descending. I killed time, and I killed it well!

The ascent by Dervio
The village of Premana
We go back down to Bellano…
… to find the lake and its mountains

And we take again the tour of the lake, first with a quite flat part until Lecco, which except a passage by the highway (it was that or a swim) is very pleasant. Then a rather “tunnels” part until Bellagio, a bit less pleasant, especially when the biker mentioned above overtakes me at 90, but at least it’s flat and quickly passed. Finally a really hilly part to reach Como, I almost regret the tunnels… But always in the sun, always by the water, always beautiful…

Then I pass again by Como, city full of cars and roadworks… And getting out of it turns into a nightmare: besides having to climb a big hill (I already have 1.700 m of difference in height in my legs, I begin to feel it), I have to do it with the whole comacini population (yes, that’s how Wikipedia calls the inhabitants of Como) which apparently decided to leave the city at the same time as me. And in addition to having a non-zen driving style, these people are also quite fast on the horn… Great. Fortunately it doesn’t last, I quickly find a corner of forest, mosquitoes and fireflies for my bivouac of the night…

The next day, a mini-stage to Milan (I hope you remember that any name preceded by the prefix mini must be pronounced with a high-pitched voice), all flat, all straight, with even a little ride around the city before a good pizza, a nice café to write my article and a reunion with Leo around a few drinks and other aperitivo…

Jay where-you-know…

Un avis sur « Between the lakes »

  1. Is that the cathedral in Milan? It’s really beautiful … your bike in front of the cathedral almost have the illusion of the Camino ending in Santiago de Compostela – but I assume you’re far from finish …
    Love the pictures of the lakes … water, water everywhere!

    J'aime

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