I finally have a wifi connection and after being badgered by Jamie to put up the pictures, I have a small selection for you.
Here is Joff doing what he does best. We are in a fantastic authentic little Italian restaurant in a backstreet in Arona. The food was superb. As we were all clearly athletes nobody drank any of the local red wine, obviously!
This is Pete coming out of the toolshop in Pavia without a solution to his pannier rack. Can you see how gutted he looks, especially as that means that someone else will be carrying his bags for him....again!
The main piazza in Pavia. They had a catwalk setup in the middle of the square and had models parading up and down whilst people in the bars and restaurants around the square watched. They know how to live in Italy!
A quick one just to let everyone know that we have completed the ride! We finished at 4pm yesterday and I immediately collapsed into a heap! Our last day involved a massive climb to get to the top of the highest part of the Apennines. We had a gain of 1000m of altitude in 15km, it was tough! You know it's tough when you are climbing at the side of a cable car! The trip total was 2460km, so my estimate was surprisingly accurate. I would just like to thank all the people who cycled parts of the route with me, Terry, Martin, Pete, Joff, Conor, Chris and my wife Tina! And thank you to everyone who sponsored us. I have built up quite a library of photos and I will post them in the next few days when I can get a decent phone signal.
We are now in L'Aquila, which is the principal city of Abruzzo. For those who remember, L'Aquila was the centre of a massive earthquake last year and the city is still putting itself back together. Yesterday we were planning to have a low mileage day as we knew there would be a lot of climbing as we crossed the Apennines. Unfortunately we finished up doing over 140km in an increasingly desperate search for somewhere to stay. We spent nearly 11.5 hours in the saddle yesterday with the last hour in darkness. It was a good job that Terry had some lights or we would have been in real trouble. We have a short day today and then the final day on Tuesday which is a huge climb over the final range of The Apennines so we are resting our legs. If you are following the route then we are climbing up to Campo Imperatore which is famous in Italy as the place where Mussolini hid during the war, it is also famous as the place where they found him and then strung him up! I have now covered 2340km so it's looking like the 2500 estimate is going to be surprisingly close!
We have had a slightly frustrating day today battling through Perugia. To be honest, it's not the prettiest of Italian cities and you can get fed up with industrial estates, congested streets and lots of litter. We also found it was at the top of a long long hill. Whilst in England it's a fair assumption that a road will follow the easiest route through the terrain and that the city will be in a valley. In Italy things are different, all cities are old fortresses and are therefore as inaccessible as possible, which makes cycling to them a bit of a pain. We found that we have spent what should been an easier day going up and down big, big hills. Some facts and figures for those who are interested. Firstly, I have covered just over 2200km and everything is now aching all the time. I am finding that strange things are happening. I can't hold a fork because the constant impact through the handlebars is having an effect on my nerve endings and my eyes are on fire as i am digging out about 10 flies every evening...nice! Secondly, Martin has been cycling with a heart rate monitor and yesterday he burned just over 6000 calories! We cycled for 7 hours 58 minutes and he was only under his range for 3 minutes!! Tomorrow we start the mountains and we are expecting two and a half days of climbing before our final descent. Yes, the Apennines are that big! We are now 20km North of Spoleto in Umbria