2. Saturday 25th April 2011
Our hosts take us to a bike shop in Burgofranco D’Ivrea to fix the already-fixed inner tube. This old time engineer can fix anything from the racing bikes and rally cars which are commemorated by trophies all over the workshop. He looks at the South Korean inner tube with quiet disbelief, but without much expression of it. Experience, you know has its value, and in some places that is disregarded to our cost. He leaves the equally experienced bike working as it should be, with materials he knows and trusts – and as it will be for the next 940km – and including the new puncture-proof Schwalbe tyres! Vorsprung…
From Burgo France D’Ivrea we head down the original Via Francigena as directed by our host and not the official, new, construct. It is more or less off-road and rough. We decide to follow the official route, by signs which gets a little silly doing a circuit of a local scenic lake. Bikes as Adam once told me, can become very awkward luggage!
Sometimes, the old direct route takes you where you are going rather better than the manufactured scenic one – 7km in the whole morning, and a view of a local lake, seems a bad use of our time on bikes. 933 km to Rome… and probably a lot more if one were to follow every sign dreamt up for the benefit of the rambler and local producer. Not everything needs to be turned into entertainment?
Quick lunch in Ivrea and then ontoVercellion the big road. We try a VF signed section between soaked rice fields – again hopeless! Riding a bike without shock absorbers on a very rough path covered in bigger and smaller stones is rather challenging. The SS596 beckons again at Palestro. It’s already quite late when we get to Robbio where we’ve booked our accommodation for today. The hotel however looks so bad and come down that we decide to cycle on to Mortara… we need accommodation! I am English, and ask a Policeman. The coolest, slowest, best-tanned Police take us to the very closed recommended hotel. PC Plod, not at all. We settle in a good Albergue – St Michael which is open.
You can’t always grieve for the better thing, that is simply not available when you want it!