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Day 21 Pavia to Piacenza

Here are three things about Pavia I bet you didn't know ..... 1. It's stunning looking bridge, called the "Ponte Coperto" , sits over the River Ticino. 2. It was the capital of the Kingdom of the Lombards from 572 to 774. Only about 1,114 years before Australia was settled by the white fella. 3. It was at Pavia in 476 AD that the rule of Romulus was ended thus bringing Roman rule in Italy to a cease. Weather report pretty similar to the previous two days. Cloudless and reaching mid 20's (mid 70's for my squadron of North American readers).

Terrain was flat for the entire day save for a few climbs up over the motorways I crossed. Horticulture was a mix of wheat, barley, rice fields (still !!) but an increase in dairy and poultry as well. On that note I will say this ...over the last 1,300 km or so I have rolled past my share of farms .. Rapeseed, dairy, wheat, corn, rice, pigs and rotting irrigation channels, you name 'em and I have passed them. However none of them hold a candle to poultry farms when it comes to rancid smells. Seriously, I have almost gagged every time I have gotten near a chicken farm and such has been the imprint of the "fragrance " on my psychosis that I am considering readjusting my approach to chook consumption. Anyway I digress. Rolled out of Pavia mid morning but not before I took in the spectacle that is Ponte Coperto.

Shortly after, I came across this blanket of red in a roadside field.

The lie of the land from Pavia to my lunch time stop at Orio Litta was flat and straight along the SS 234. It was also very, very busy. After one too many near brushes with an 18 wheel semi trailer and one too many pot holes I decided to divert and take the countryside roads even if it meant adding 15km to my ride. At this point I came across several signs designating the walking trail for the Via Francigena. Most of it off road. My technical advisor for this trip, Mark O. (aka BOK) had put me onto the Surly Disc Trucker because of its robustness. Mark has travelled across more countries than a B.A. pilot including Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Mynameisstan... all of it without issue with his Surly bike and so I didn't think a field near Pavia was going to draw issue with my 2017 model. True to form, it held good as I crossed dirt tracks and farm fields following the Via Francigena signs religiously. My back got a good work out over the bumpy terrain too. On that subject, here's a quick digression .. back in 2009 I had a microdiscetomy on my spine. Long story (and the post surgery in hospital for 5 days story is a good one) cut short they shaved the disc away from my nerves at L4/5 juncture on my spine. Best thing I ever did for my back. Post surgery I went to a host of physios but it wasn't until a mate of a mate called Greg O. recommended a man who was to become my saviour. He runs by the name of Andrew Jackson and operates out of the Bowskill Clinic in Duke St just behind Selfridges. The man is a living legend and taught me exercises and spinal / core strengthening/stretching techniques that I still do most evenings on this ride. If you ever have a back issue he is your man. Nice guy too. Anyway so on I rolled over farmer fields and dirt tracks. It made for a pleasant change from the highways.

Crossed yet another railway line (57th) and this time took time to stop and take a snap. Orio Litta is a one horse town and then it was a 25 km dash to Piacenza where I will be for the next two nights as I am taking a rest day tomorrow.

If nothing else I need to do some laundry as I am starting to rival the poultry farms for smell factor.

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