Day 16 – Meltdown in Milano – Rest Day



I was off the bike today and walking and sightseeing. I was really hoping to rest up my knee which seemed to be the only lingering problem from the first two weeks. My chest cold was all but completely gone, and my chest bruise from the saddle impact was healing, felt fine and was pain free. However, my left knee was bad and as I limped around Milano I tired to ignore the fact that I didn’t feel like I could ride 50km never mind a 300km+ Milano-San Remo tomorrow.

Day of Journey:
Stage 12, Day 16, May 18th, 2009.

Time Traveled:
Distance Traveled:
Again, I walked heaps
Travel Methods:
Total Distance Biked:
1778km (12 stages, three rest days)


“In Milano trying to sight-see/ relax. I’m nervous about the next bit because my left knee was really bad on Sunday. Great eh? Anxious to finish.”

So What Happened?

I’m not going to get into the details of my sightseeing in Milano, but let me just say this. If it wasn’t Milano, I wouldn’t be walking around and I would be resting my leg, but it was Milano and it was my first time there. An absolutely beautiful city and I was able to meet up with my friend Jakob as well. We went to design school together and it was great to see him while he is living there.

Instead, I will get into the details of my very trip relevant break down in the public library. If you are looking to save a buck or two while traveling, use the internet at the library. Ok, maybe if you’re just checking an email for 5 minutes, it’s easier and more convenient to pay, but if you’re trying to figure out what options you have if you can’t possibly ride to San Remo on a bum knee and it starts taking an hour or so…that can add up. An hour in the public library in Milano = blood pressure rising.

I do realize that sitting in the public library when you have 1.5 days in one of the most celebrated cities in the world for art, design, cycling and all things Italian is lame. It’s totally lame. I’m not going to try to convince you it isn’t lame. It is. I’ll even type it one more time. LAME. It is also another reason why I was starting to freak out.

I was also freaking out for five very clear, very related issues, which desperately needed addressing. First and most troubling – my knee. Sitting in the library was lame, as previously over-stated, but it was welcome relief for my knee. Every other thought in my head was “There is no way you can do this tomorrow, this is a 300km classics route from Milano over the Passo del Turchino to the coast, along the coast in the heat and the wind over the Le Maine climb and then up and down all the way to San Remo, alone.” So I read articles about knee pain online for a while.

Second and equally troubling – I didn’t know where I was going. Ok, I knew I was going to San Remo, and had to pass over the Passo del….blah blah blah, but I didn’t have my route maps/lists made from here on in. I stupidly didn’t make time for it before I left and only did the stages up to Milano, which I ended up not needing most of because of the Giro route markers. Now, the giro was going elsewhere and I was on my own for directions so I needed a list. So I went to bikely and google maps and printed ten pages of directions from Milano to Barcelona. 1300km of directions.

Third and slightly less troubling – I had nowhere to stay. Because I did not know my route/itinerary, I understandably couldn’t do couchsurfing requests with vague information, uncertainty about what cities I would stop in all one month in advance. I foolishly thought that after one week of riding I could start doing requests, so they would only be 10-14 advanced notice, but I didn’t get the time. I usually only had 4-5 hours with each host and I wanted to get to know them and vice-versa as much as that time would allow. I would go for dinner with my hosts, make dinner, go bike riding, go sight-seeing, etc. I didn’t however feel cool about asking to use their internet for 1 hour making route plans and CS requests, because that wouldn’t be cool. So I didn’t. So instead I remembered my last journey – fixed gear from Sweden to Spain. I slept on the side of the road in a bug net. If I could do it then, I could do it now. So I checked the weather.

Fourth and starting to freak me out – I needed a plan B. I wanted to make sure that the route I was taking wouldn’t leave me stranding with no way out. If I was going to ride, not believing I could do it, I needed support – in the form of trains. If I could jump on a train if I needed to, that would be ideal, then I wouldn’t be so worried about getting all the way there. So I made a list of critical train stations along the way, which there were not always many of – it would take me a different route.

Fifth and totally freaking me out – everything else. I started worrying about everything and wondered if I believed I was finished, why I couldn’t just accept it. Why suffer through the last days when I could just ride back to Bergamo and fly to Madrid on Ryanair for less money than the train I had planned to take from Barcelona to Madrid. So I checked Ryanair – 100 euros, everything included, leaving tomorrow. Also, if I have few days in Madrid, and then four days to get back to Frankfurt, why not just ride those four days instead of these four days and have more holiday and the same amount of biking. AND if I ride those four days, then my knee will probably be better. AND, I can save money getting to Frankfurt. AND ….on and on and on – I was starting to lose it.

F*CK, F*CK, F*CK!!. I quickly realized, as every single person using the computers in the Milano public library turned slowly and looked to see who the raving lunatic yelling at the computer was, that I just yelled that out loud. I sunk a little deeper into my chair to hide behind the monitor. Perspective. I really needed perspective.

Again, remembering back to previous rides and the mantra that forms the foundation of all of my touring, randonneuring, hiking etc. I repeated the single most important concept to myself and stood up and left the library, determined to ride the Milano-San Remo even if it killed me. That mantra is:

“Go. Do as much as you can, with what you’ve got, and when you absolutely can’t do any more. Stop. Then be satisfied. Then the journey is complete. Stick with the plan – always, but be able to adapt. Don’t make decisions before you are forced to, because the answers will arrive sooner than that. Start in the morning and see what you can accomplish.”

Picture(s) of the Day:

CoppiAttacksMilanSanRemoFausto Coppi attacks to win his second Milan-San Remo

MerckxMilanSanRemoEddy Merckx wins his record 7th Milan-San Remo


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