Sunday, 14 December 2008

Pampered In Pescara!

A Polish couple helped pitch my tent. I was fed and furnished by two French cyclists in their sixties - the husband being hounded into acting as a sniffer dog to inspect my newly acquired single mattress from the nearby bins! My table was an upturned cardboard box, whilst my moulded plastic chairs had more cracks than my collar bone. A duo of Dutch dames provided some discourse continually commenting on the people parading by with their pooches in prams and pushchairs! During the first few days my time was taken up with entering and exiting my wee tent - averaging out at fifteen minutes each manoeuvre.

I got a lift into Livorno on the local bendy bus which didn't bend around any of the bumps on the road.. I paused at a street side cafe for a pizza and a pint and with my mind preoccupied with possibilities I inadvertently walked off without paying - I felt like a one armed bandit!

Whilst I was more than willing to settle in and sit it out in the campsite until my bones bonded a proposal came from Pescara that I should go and recuperate with my brothers colleague Alessandro. I wasn't sure! Accepting hospitality in someone's hoose for a couple of nights is one thing but foisting yourself on folks for a month is quite another. However with each email Ale relayed I realised his offer was very genuine and generous so my reservations receded and I accepted.

The round trip from Pescara was over seven hundred miles and took Ale thirteen and a half hours of continual driving - an incredible effort which did not include one bad gear change! However, after arriving late in Pescara and piling into a pizza, Ale proudly announced, 'we did it Eric!' then slapped me on my sore shoulder - the laughter levelled out the pain.

Although I found the northern Italians cold and distant, the further south I travelled the weather and the people warmed up considerably with the reception in Pescara positively roasting. Ale and his partner Michela couldn't do enough for me. Michela, who had just discovered she was pregnant gave up her beachside flat and moved in with Ale providing me with a place, peace (apart from the fighting felines) and privacy to enable me to rest and recuperate. Although they were both very busy they continually invited me round to their flat for delicious homemade meals - with Michela's terrific tiramisu tantalising my taste buds. They also included me in the company of their friends with Maurizio and Tanya being especially hospitable - Tanya never allowing me to leave without taking a doggy bag of her tasty treats. In fact I was completely embraced by all their circle of friends - sometimes too tightly by one friend, Felicia who gave such a bear hug that it was often too hard to bare!

During the first few weeks ın Pescara I was still feeling a little fragile. After the experience wıth my tooth trauma I decided not to partake in the all powerful and pervading prescriptıon drugs but to go with the grape and the grain. Ten days later I realised that my self prescribed dose may have been a tad too hıgh so I reduced the prescription to a more lucid level. However, one side effect had been that I put on more weight than a sumo wrestler. My shoulder support should have been adjusted weekly but with me piling on the pounds I just fattened out to fit it! I was supposed to keep it on for one month but it had been impossible to wash myself properly and there was a pong parading around with me. Ale had gone way beyond the call of duty and had already pacified my pits once so I was unwilling to inflict that upon him again. Mıchela's bathroom contained a tiny tub which was desıgned for only sitting in but I was determined to submerge my armpits before they submerged me! So I removed the brace discovering that ıt had collected more skin than a callous. I then gingerly squeezed my torso into the tub whilst my legs languıshed upwards agaınst the wall. The wonder of getting fully washed was was delightful. However, not surprisingly during the meal at Maurizio's and Tanya's that evening the cusine and company did little to dilute the discomfort in my shoulder. That evening the discusion became rather morbid and flowed onto funerals. Apparently, in Italy you can hire people to cry at your funeral - the better the performance bringing a bıgger regard for the deceased!

Passing the tıme dıd not prove to be much of a problem. I dıd yoga exercıses three tımes a day and devoted at least ninety minutes to visualısation sending as much energy and healing as I could muster to my shoulder. I also slept for hours on end, regardless of the time of day. I read 'The Ragged Trousered Phılanthropists' by Robert Tressell - all sıx hundred and forty pages of ıt! It was not exactly uplifting but saved me lifting it up another hill. I had a couple of days when the fun of the fracture wore off and fatıgue filled the void. My mood and energy had more swings than a childrens playpark. I tried just to let things be and wait until it passed. After all, worrying does not reduce tomorrow of sorrow, only today of strength. Besides, I had Italian tv to lift my spirits. Whether it is game shows, political debates, talkshows, sports programmes, shopping channels or soaps, cleavage ıs Kıng with bossoms blazoned all over the box! There was one late nıght show where woman writhed about to the instructions of the male callers, who judging by the tone of their voices were expressıng themselves both verbally and physıcally! Most of the films I saw were dubbed - they even dubbed Dinero! I often managed to catch the late afternoon showing of Lassıe, where thankfully the dog was not dubbed. Another day whilst twıddlıng my thumbs I decıded to put them to some use and repair my puncture. I managed to repair the puncture using one arm and one foot. However, afterwards I began to pespire and pant like a pensıoner - it ıs a thin line between stubborness and stupıdıty!

Nothing seemed too much bother for Ale and Michela. Ale arranged and took me for an x-ray to check that the fracture was fine. I couldn't help thinking that perhaps he should have an x-ray too, to assess the massıve cavıty that must be housing such a huge heart. Michela, who is a Physiotherapist, got me an appointment at her practıce so that her boss could look at my x-ray. With Ale acting as interpreter we entered his office. The Doctor who was busy reading his broadsheet barely managed to prise his pupils away from the paper. When Doctor Dısmissive eventually examined the x-ray he threw it across the table as if to say, 'do not bother me with such a simple fracture'. Apparently he has a habit of haranguıng elderly patients and sayıng, 'what is your problem, you will be gone soon anyway?' He stood up and ordered me to stand to attention against the wall, just lıke a soldier, then he thrust his thumb firmly against my bone and scoffed. Ale asked when I could expect to get back on my bike. Dr Dismissive said that Valentino Rossi takes painkilling injections and gets on with it but he gets paid. He then said that if I was crazy I could cycle off tomorrow but he would wait for four weeks. By this stage Ale was ın fits of laughter whilst just managing to blurt out, 'waıt and I will explain all' After we left Ale said that I deserved a drambuie. I did not disagree! I have decided that drambuie really is the, 'spirit of adventure!'

After a couple of weeks I started going for long walks along the beach. As it was now end of season there were few people about but the beach was still banked up with all the residue from the mass of holidaymakers. There were deflated paddling pools, flippers, suncanopies and umbrellas and balls. There were lilos, pedalos, plastic toys and swept ashore buoys. Then wet suıts, tıny plastıc tractors, spades, pales and prams. As the days past the sand slowly regained the shore as the clutter was cleared away.

Another day whist trying to clear the clutter off my face I was determined to shave the right side with my left hand but it was just not happening. Breathing, vısualisation and stupidity had all failed to get my arm across. Just then a Nıck Kershaw song came on the radio. It was 'I've got two strong arms'. I started must be a sign! It ıs funny the things that motivate you...or should I say, me! I turned the radio up, returned to the mirror and shaved my right sıde.

Three weeks after breaking my shoulder I climbed back on my bike. I had worked hard to heal it and it felt right. The support I had received had also helped immensely. Of course I was as wobbly as a newly set jelly and my confidence was as low as the Italian ladies tops. I spent the next two weeks pedalling along the prom buildıng up muscle and mood whilst glowering at anyone who came near me.

My last Sunday was spent dining out with Ale, Michela, Maurizıo, Tanya and their kids. It was a nice relaxing way to wave goodbye and to thank them for all their support. I do belıeve that 'Living is Giving' and that was certainly the case ın Pescara where I do not think it was possible for Ale, Michela and their friends to give any more! Things do happen for a reason and for me to break my shoulder gave me the opportunity to retest my own healing skills whilst also enjoying the company and support of some lovely people. I feel very lucky indeed!


mary said...

keep going eric it will be all worth it. paul&mary st ives

Anonymous said...

Hi Eric
We met by shear chance on the cycle track outside Adelaide You looked shattered have been reading your blog well done fantastic.

All the best Billy.

tzmslf said...

hi eric is liam aberhart here i supose i have to keep it clean sence your mother is reading this. i meet you at the tangariro national park while on a school camp. i have now found out that my name was brought up in the local paper about my riding and the winning of most improved rider. i wish you the best keep going and dont give up LIVESTRONG.

give it your all liam

tzmslf said...

oh and if you happen to go through morrinsville please dont hesitate to go to the local police station and ask were i live and stop for a coffe.


Joseph Faber said...

Hi Eric,Joseph Faber here I meet you in a campsite in New Zealand while on a school camp at tongariro national park nz, I had a fun time chatting to you about how you cycle just to rasie money for a charity,I would like to meet you again.

Joseph Faber

Kevz110 said...

Hi Eric
We met on the Roundabout at the end of West Rd in Brookby - South Auckland - New Zealand this afternoon (21-Dec-09). I hope the directions I gave you to get to the Airport were helpful. Great trip dude. San Fran for Christmas? See if you can cycle up Powell St - a bit steeper than West Rd!!
Best regards

The Richmonds said...

Eric, CONGRATULATIONS!!!! on making it to Adelaide all of the Richmond family are thrilled for you, the kids still talk about you and we remember the Daly Waters Pub with fondness, you made it all the better. Merry Christmas and may the New year be a fantastic one as you continue your journey. Take care, Brad, Jo, Nathan, Noah and Laura xoxox

evan bruce said...

Eric mate it's evan from pittsburgh we hung oyt a bit at a hostel in california the giant elephant seal, you are clearly still procrastinating updating your blog haha 6 hours to write two sentences i hope your better at biking than writing lol. keep it you almost there shoot me an email whn you hit the east coast you've always got a bed or couch here. cheers Evan

Anonymous said...

Great wishes from station 45 of the Kern County Fire Department. Ride safe, we applaud your determination.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the conversation with you today at the Shell in Benson, AZ. Safe journey and enjoy the ride. Hope you do write a book on your adventure.

Much Health and Happiness

Anonymous said...

hope all's OK Eric. met you at your penultimate destination, glenelg beach, adelaide and took that photo of you emerging triumphant from the surf after stripping down at the cafe we met at. seems your blog needs updating as others have noted. look forward to hearing more of your incredible journey. you amaze us. keep it up and we're glad we met you. cheers, graham

Jonathan said...

hey eric i met you outside of the city of odessa. My name is Jonathan from dallas texas.. i hope you make it through our area, ive told my mother about you and your sitiuation and she is excited to meet you and hear your story....hope your trip goes well keep it up...

best wishes,