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Day 20 - Vercelli to Pavia

Three facts about Vercelli that I didn't know:- 1. The residents speak a dialect of Italian called "Piemontese " 2. The world's first university funded by public money was established in Vercelli in the

year 1228. Only about 560 years before Australia was settled. 3. There are 5.4% more women than men in Vercelli. 47.3 v 52.7 I left Vercelli under another perfect sky and cool temperatures. The road to Mortara was a replica of that ridden yesterday. Straight and flat. Rice field after rice field and Italian Sunday drivers doing warp speed to get to Mamma's for the traditional Sunday lunch. I looked up the speed limit for the state highway and discovered it's 90kph. If there was a single driver doing under 110 kph then I am black, my real name is Louis Armstrong and I am one of the all time great jazz trumpeters.

I discovered rice fields look like this close up ....

The channelling and distribution of water is pretty clever too ....

It might have been Sunday but that didn't diminish the number of cyclists on the road. The difference from yesterday being that with the exception of this lot who were setting off from outside a cafe, most of the riders today were not clad in Lycra but instead social cyclists with wicker baskets and comfortable seats doing their weekly exercise/outing.

Italian peloton on the move after a coffee ....

Rolling through Mortara I decided to stop and buy some goodies for my own picnic lunch and then headed out of town to a suitable spot. I noticed a national Park that sat alongside the River Ticino about half way to Pavia - my destination for the day. The road took a circuitous route and at one point I was only 25 km from Milan. Here the landscape changed and started to have a real industrial feel to it, interspersed with forests that ran alongside the Ticino River. There was also more traffic on the road towards Milan than you'd see on the M6 near Birmingham. After 1,200 km of road riding from London to my current location the local councils of Mortara and Milan win the award for "The worst road conditions in a supposedly developed country for a cyclist ". Possibly the only highlight of this stretch of the road was passing through a hamlet called Ozzero! Being a simpleton, it almost made my day.

However it wasn't all that bad - I finally overtook someone other than my own riding partner(s). This guy gets the honour of being my first overtaking victim. A pretty seminal moment for sure. Well, for me at least. I am pretty sure he was wondering who the tosser was, riding past him holding up an iPhone and videoing as he rode past. I was so excited I stopped 50 metres up the road and took his photo too!

Lunch was a picnic down on the Ticino river.

And another attempt by me to get an artistic shot of my bike in the many woods I passed.

From here the roads wound through picturesque little villages and onto Pavia and another day done. Numbers for the day - Biggest peleton - 27 riders - Number of ladies riding bikes with wicket baskets on handle bars -7 - Number of men riding bikes with wicker baskets on handlebars - 0 - Number of Km travelled in the morning before I had to change gears - 47.5 - Number of chocolate gelatos consumed - 1 - Number of pot holes ridden through/over between Mortara and the Milan turnoff - 2,450 - Number of times I checked to ensure my two pannier bags were still attached to the bike

after riding through / over a pothole between Mortara and the Milan turn off - 123 - Number of times I stood up on my pedals as I rode through / over a pot hole between

Mortara and the Milan turnoff in order to preserve my Crown Jewels - 167 - Number of times I road into a pot hole so deep between Mortara and the Milan turnoff

that I had to change gears to get out the other side - 3 - Number of people observing the speed limit on the SS 596 from Vercelli to Mortara - 0 - Maximum temperature recorded : 29 degrees

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