26 kilometres too far

When I came home and opened the door I immediately saw my girlfriend shaking her head. ,,I warned you’’, she said. ,,So you better don’t complain that you are tired.’’ In the meantime the pasta she prepared for me, was cooking. So that relentless she wasn’t. And she was right.

Today I went out for a bike ride to the Italian town of Trieste. Since two months now I’ve been living on Tržaška Cesta which means road to Trieste. Riding my bike to the seaside in Trieste was just something I had to do. When I told my girlfriend of the plan this week she called me a fool. ,,You will never find your way out of the centre of Trieste. I really wouldn’t do that if I was you’’, she said. So I did do it.

I started shortly after nine in the morning. It was still fresh. The first twenty kilometres were flat and a slight breeze was blowing towards me. ‘Good, tailwind, when I come back’, I thought. I saw hills and mountains, meadows and forests. I rode quite easy and made good progress. I still felt fresh when I crossed the Italian border after three hours of riding. I was in a completely different world by then. I breathed the sweet air of pinetrees on a hot and dry summer day. And I heard the chirping of crickets. Twenty minutes later I stood next to the sea in Trieste. I had done almost a hundred kilometres. More than expected, but 200 altogether would still be manageable.

Would I find my way back? No doubt. I just had to go up again. So when I saw a road rising in the centre I took it. Didn’t I notice that all the roads where leading up? Well, I guess I just thought the one I took was the right one. Quite soon I noticed it wasn’t. The things I passed in the descent, I didn’t see here. But I had to go up so as long as I went up, I would come out on the right road. I didn’t tough. And when I reached the end of my climb I saw in the distance the other mountain, next to the one I was climbing, with the road I had to be on. Ups.

I descended back into town. Searched and found the right way, drove in the opposite direction of oneway streets no to get lost again and I climbed back towards Slovenia. I wasted an hour and made an extra 26 kilometres. By now it had warmed up to thirty degrees, I was sweating and with each pedalstroke my legs hurted more. Out of Trieste the road is rising for twenty kilometres. When you are fresh it’s not a hard climb but fresh I wasn’t anymore.

On the way back I had to stop four times to get water for my bidon and I had to buy two colas. I never drank so much per kilometre. The last flat twenty kilometres were everlasting. A breeze was blowing against me. Indeed, the wind turned. ‘I would’ve been home now’, I thought when I reached the last 26 kilometres, remembering my detour through the suburbs and hills of Trieste. The thought made the pinches in my worn out legmuscles even stronger.

I rode 225 kilometres into a headwind and climbed 2500 vertical metres in total. I believe the wind wouldn’t have turned if I had paid more attention on getting the right route out of Trieste. When you ignore a warning you always get paid for it.

At home I waited a bit before I entered in an attempt to let the worst signs of fatigue leave my face. But the strain was obvious. I was naggered and my girlfriend noticed it the moment I stepped in. ,,I told you so.’’

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