N26° 54.303′ E33° 37.230′ @ 03:41GMT
Its one of those random odd photographs, riding for a few hours and stopping to tumble off the bike into the meadow grass and flowers, kicking back to take of my jacket and boots in the strong alpine sunshine, rehydrating from a bottle of water and eating a snack when I hear the shutter of the Nikon clicking away – turns out the weight of my Hein Gericke jacket has pushed down the release and taken a series of random images – this one just captures the whole day for me, all that’s missing is the smell of the grass and wild flowers and the continual drone of insects as they forage for pollen.
Continuing on my travels I am grateful of any shade or shelter from either the intense heat or driving rain, railway arches, drive through garages, shop doorways and the ever-present Plane trees all provide shelter and mental encouragement – and to quote my fellow traveller Glen Heggstad “I am not always sure where I am heading, but I am always exactly where I want to be”.
I have been able to ride some incredible eastern European mountain roads this week despite the torrential rain which is still setting as snow at altitude. Dressing for the weather can be a challenge as its often 28 degrees plus at valley floor level but yesterday dropped to just 2.5 degrees at altitude – managed to get everything dry last night so tomorrow will be another new adventure.
Succumbed tonight to a night under bricks and mortar after riding through some of the worst summer storms locals tell me they have seen for years – the bike is tucked up in an underground car park and everything I have is laying around me dripping in an attempt to get it dry before the ride to Austria tomorrow and through my window I can see dancing shards of lightening over the old village of Bergamo. Rode the Col De l’Iseran today and although it was warm when I left I predicted snow at 9,100 ft and I was not wrong. Seems odd to be grabbing extra layers and using heated grips when 16 hours earlier I was riding with jacket open in the evening sunshine.
A long days riding which saw a complete set of seasons was capped by a lunch of nectarines and cherries at the top of the pass overlooking Lac de Vouglans. The reservoir provides power for the hydro-electric power station at Vouglans on the River Ain. Warnings of a severe storm are everywhere – lets see what the new day brings but the forests today were glorious, damp and primeval, its only when you ride a bike can you smell the changing surroundings – actually smell the earth and the rain soaked canopies.
Catching occasional glimpses of a famous merchant vessel used to guide the way for ships during the D Day landings, I meandered around the tracks and back roads of Skewen before finally ending up on the waters edge alongside the River Neath. Perched in the mud was LV72 – Juno. Built in 1903 by John Crown and Sons in Sunderland this lightship is now ‘rusting and resting’, embedded in the sticky estuary mud and, to be honest, is a sad sight. Having been a lightship for Trinity House she was moored off the Normandy coast on 18th June 1944 and was used to mark the edges of minefields and give safe passage – remaining on station until 27th January 1945. In the spring of 1973 she was sold and after plans for a nightclub conversion failed, she now sits on the bank slowing eroding back into her surroundings.
Its funny how a single image or smell can provoke such a strong memory response, I have been spending time organising, uploading and editing my images, poems and text ready for printing and binding and came across a few images I forgotten about from the 2013 trip – funny how easy I can be jogged back into artic mode…