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2000 Cycling Season, May 27

Travel from Rapallo to Luca

May 25, Saturday, Travel from Rapallo to Luca

After a rather ugly Train experience getting from Rapallo to Pisa we finally got to use the big, wheeled thing that we've been hefting around on the trains to for what it's built for - cruising the open road. The itinerary for the day was to ride the train to Pisa, and then ride the bike from Pisa to Luca.

As I said the first part of our voyage via train got rather ugly. We started by jumping on a train at the scheduled time and platform that didn't go where we thought it was going. The circumstances were almost identical to the previous day. Just because a train arrives at a platform at the time that one is scheduled to arrive, doesn't mean it's the train that you want. It can easily be an earlier train that is running late. However the only way to discover this is to ask a railroad employee - and hope you can communicate your needs. At this new stop we waited at a platform where the train we needed was scheduled to arrive. A few minutes before the scheduled arrival, we got nervous because we were the only ones standing on the platform. We franticly asked a railroad worker, who pointed to a different platform, and told us to hurry. Sure hurry with the bike, and the trailer, when you have two sets of stairs to cope with! The railroad guy saw our dilemma, and pointed us at a place where we could directly cross the tracks, so we ran for it. It turned out there had been an unscheduled platform change, and we didn't understand the announcements they had been making about it. Next we discovered that for this particular train they wanted us to load the bike on the back of the train, not in the front like normal. So we had to quickly get all of our gear to the back of the train. We ended up making a bit of a spectacle of ourselves as we ran down the train while people on the train peered out the windows at us because we were delaying the train's departure.

The lessons we learned are first to ask someone about the platform, and to ask before actually boarding any train. This way we won't stand around for a hour waiting for a train only to find out it arrives at a different platform. We'll also avoid getting on the wrong train just because it arrives when the one we wanted was scheduled. All in all we were glad to get away from the Italian trains for a few days.

In Pisa we did what every American tourist does. We ate Pizza and went to the leaning tower of Pisa. Actually the area around the leaning tower of Pisa is pretty disappointing. With all the wonderfully Renaissance art, it's too bad the leaning tower of Pisa is the one symbol of Italy that any American can recognize.

Dorothy at the Leaning Tower of Pisa

Dorothy at the Leaning Tower of Pisa

John at the Leaning Tower of Pisa

John at the Leaning Tower of Pisa

The remaining 25k from Pisa to Luca disappeared under the wheels of our tandem like the sea rushing under the bow of a sailboat in a strong wind. This first little journey in Tuscany turned out to be perfect Tandem Country - slightly rolling terrain with lots of shady tree lined roads! Get all those noisy little scooters out of our way - we're running fast and silent! In case you aren't familiar with this new bike we're riding, you should look at my 1999 cycling season story, which describes it in a way that only a fellow cyclist can appreciate. It's a fine fast sleek sporty two-seater that's made for cruising lightly rolling hills at high speeds. Today we got to use it in an environment where it excels, even though we were carrying a full compliment of gear.

The Ancient Walled Town of Luca

The Ancient Walled Town of Luca

After getting settled in to our hotel, we make a late afternoon walk through the ancient walled town of Luca. Luca was founded in 85 B.C. and is surrounded by a defensive wall around the entire city. It is filled with churches and renaissance and lots of great renaissance art work.

Statue of Michael the Archangel

Statue of Michael the Archangel

Ancient Church In Luca

Ancient Church In Luca