Tuesday, July 27, 2021

All well that ends well

Eveline has survived her birthday. And in a pleasant way. She received lots of messages from friends and relatives and the highlight was a video from the granddaughters. How to make a person happy!

After Cherasco we stayed in Saluzzo and Pinerolo, both regional cities with a 'centro storico', an historic centre. Though very different, both places are really charming with narrow little old streets and alleys, buzzling squares and people enjoying their lifes on scores of terraces. We fit in seamlessly and have no problem in understanding this way of life. Then, on Sunday, after exactly a week of cycling, we returned to Torino.

The rides between those places were worthwhile. Only at some times boring, most of the time beautiful scenery on the back roads that we used. Twice we had to cross a river bed, carrying and pushing the bikes across the rocks and gulleys. Piemonte is a nice cycling region.

Of course we were anxious about the proceedings with the broken Bosch drive unit of Eveline's ebike. We had received a message that Bosch had sent a new drive unit to the bike shop, and that the delivery, due on last Friday, was postponed. When will it come, how many days will it last before it comes? Imagine how happy we were when, reaching the shop this Monday morning to return the rented bike, we were informed that the unit had just been delivered, 15 minutes ago. And Bosch was wise enough to do the replacement for free, under guarantee, though the deadline was past. Of course! A drive unit should last longer than 5000 k, and Bosch appears to realize that.

So, we went off for a last lunch with Gino, after lunch the drive unit was mounted and we put the bikes on the rack and started for home. 

A special thing to mention: From Turin into Switzerland is best done via the Great Saint Berhard pass, Gran San Bernardo. Exactly ten years ago Eveline and I crossed the same pass in the opposite direction, on our (not e-) bikes on the first stage of our round the world tour. You may remember what happened in Greece one month later and how that changed our lives. We especially didn't drive through the tunnel today, but climbed to the pass where we made a similar photo of ourselves. Ten years after, still alive and cycling!



A special tribute to the bike shop in Torino. They were so helpful and adequate. A special recommendation!  https://www.myebike.eu

Thursday, July 22, 2021


We spent some nice days in beautiful and agreeable Torino and we drove our car up a winding and hazardous mountain slope in the Susa-valley to join Gino and Anna for a traditional regional lunch, best described as delicious and nutritious.

On Monday we went to pick up the rental ebike by car, took it to Gino's, prepared both bikes for the journey, parked the car on a safe place somewhere in a street, had our last coffee together and left for the cycle path along the Po river.

From then on things went smoothly. Cruising along mostly unpaved tracks along the Po we reached our first hotel in Chivasso. Again we had to conclude how well the Italians have their things managed and how great the craftsmanship of the constructors is. The hotel, just average, was modern, well equipped, clean, beautifully decorated, design everywhere, nice with everything you wish and staff that is gentle, helpful and kind. This has been our experience everywhere until now.

20 kilometers after Chivasso we turned south into Monferrata. Hills, with tough slopes. But our machines assisted us beautifully and the panting and sore legs of the past remained of the past. We stayed in an Agriturismo near Cortanze, one of those steep mountain villages where the houses cling to each other in order to prevent them from collapsing into the valley together. No one in the steep little streets except for a stray cat and one women walking a dog (a very common phenomenon here). Again a wonderful luxurious accommodation, traditional and we were feated with a regional slow food dinner accompanied by a Barbera d'Asti. Can be worse.

Next day Alba, and today we're in an historic and enormous town villa in Cherasco, a huge house where we occupy the top floor. Hot water from arrival time plus two hours and in the morning from 7 to 9, breakfast tomorrow morning in the bar 100 mtrs up the street. But this street: the name is Via Vittorio Emanuelle II, which is normal, there is one in every town. But this one has an arch at one end, in front of our house and an arch on the other end. The little town is famous because Napoleon was here to sign a peace treaty with the Savoy king, who reigned Piemonte in those days. We even visited the mansion where this all happened, there is now an exhibition of posters of modern art exhibitions in the fifties and sixties of the last century. You see, there's always high culture to be consumed, even when you do not expect it. Today was a nostalgia tour anyway. In the morning we rode up (steep!!) to the fantastic belvedere of La Morra, where I already had been a couple of times during my work stays in this region so long ago. Then we cycled to Velso Mucci, the vocational school in Bra, to which I took 7 students of mine for a week in 1992 (93?) and where I met Gino for the very first time by stumbling into the classroom where he was teaching. As you may understand now, this has had major consequences. Of course there was no one there that possibly could remember me, though I have visited this school a number of times. History! But nice. Then tomorrow: Eveline will turn 72! Don't tell any one, no one need to know.

For more photos click on "All photo albums" and then "Piemonte"

Friday, July 16, 2021

Saddle hardly touched

 We left under perfect circumstances. The weather was fine, the valley wonderful. After some 24 kilometers, on a remote cycle path along a mountain stream, Eveline complained that her ebike wasn't ok. I checked and indeed, the on board computer gave “error code 500”. The display was working, the battery indicated that it still was full, but the drive unit remained dead. I made several phonecalls, to no avail. We continued with the now heavy ebike to the nearest town, which happened to be not far, Villadossola. Pretty soon we found a bicycle shop and the owner even appeared to be a registered Bosch-dealer. Although it was lunch time (don't underestimate this, lunch is important in these regions!) he checked the ebike, connected it to the Bosch system and concluded that the engine's software had a failure and that this is beyond repair. There we go! We make sure that we are equipped with the best material that can cope with extraordinary circumstances and then this happens! 

To make a long story short:

The shop owner took us in his car to our car (fortunately on this side of the Simplon pass), we collected our bikes from his shop (after lunch!) and continued to this second awfully nice and romantic B&B that we had booked before. We contacted our good friend Gino in Torino and, as expected :-), he started working for us. Now, a couple of days later, we are in Torino, the ebike is in a shop from another very co-operative Bosch dealer who will try to change the drive unit within a week. In the mean time we will rent another ebike from their shop, same brand, make the greater part of our planned tour, and pick up Eveline's bike on return. We are now spending three days here, which we had planned anyway, though under different circumstances. We are happy to spend some time with Gino and Anna, whom we have known for so long now. Torino is a wonderful historic city with very nice musea and miles of shady galleries, beautiful squares, fantastic coffee bars, restaurants, shops and markets. Tomorrow we will drive up for lunch to Frassinere, where Gino and Anna own a family house on the mountain side, alt. 1000m. 

The plan now is to pick up the rental ebike on Monday morning and continue our tour. So, to be continued...

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

In the saddle again

It has been a while! It is nearly two years ago that I inserted my previous post. After that things happened. During the winter after our last little tour the pandemic hit the world. 

Fortunately we, and our near ones, have been spared of the infection and when writing this we all had have had our full vaccinations. Like everyone else we had a more quiet time then we are used to. 

In the summer of 2020 though there was a window between corona-outbreaks and lockdown measures and our governments allowed us to leave the house a bit more. We took the opportunity and we cycled during a week in the south-west corner of Belgium, Flanders' Fields, the area where during WorldWar I so many lives were sacrificed for who knows what reasons. It was an impressive week. 

Later that summer we cycled for three days in the Belgian province of Limburg, where we visited some art exhibitions. That was more or less it. Also we had no Warmshowers guests in our house, no one was travelling of course.

Now we have just started a new tour. The intention is to make a little round tour in Piemonte, the northwestern region of Italy with its beautiful capital Torino. Also Piemonte is the place where the slow food movement started, and we will certainly paas by Asti, Alba, Bra and more of these small rural towns where they know how food can be made simply and delicious. In the mean time we will meet a good Piemontese friend.

We traveled by car from our home to Brig in Switzerland. From there we wanted to cycle across the Simplon pass into Piemonte today. But alas, the weather was abominable. Pouring rain, strong winds, mist and a clap of thunder every now and then. Not the favaourable condtions to pedal over 2000 meters altitude. So instead of leaving the car in Brig we drove over the pass and now we find ourselves in an old and romantic B&B in Varzo, a village halfway the road down to Lago Maggiore. The weather forecasts for tomorrow are better, though not completely good. Anyway, we found a save parking place for the car, the bikes have been prepared and we are ready to ride.