Day one, after almost a moth of traveling.
We had made it to the ferry.
We had made it out of the ferry.
And finally it was here. The real beginning.
The bed of that mobile home camp site was surprisingly really comfortable. Our aspirations of getting up early and hitting the road before the heat died with the comfortable mattress. Maybe deep down I was just trying to stahl just a little longer.
We loaded up once again. We redistributed the weight and I was able to steer with my own panniers.
We were off onto the Italian roads.
The morning was great. It felt great. The road was easy. I felt more confident and at least I was able to steer.
Or so I thought.
We had to be on a small portion of a fast freeway. Somehow the bike trail directions we had gotten put us on this 80 miles and hour freeway. We had to do it. Stay close to the line and don't stop. I took a deep breath and hoped it was flat.
Jonathan was behind me. The cars were speeding beside us. Very little to no shoulder for us to ride. My heart was pounding. Jonathan behind me yelling me to stick to the line. I was trying my best to do so. He urged me to keep pedaling faster up a bridge but I couldn't. He was at my heels and my speed was making it harder for him to stick to the white line. I was putting us both in danger. The wretched white line. Scared, we made it to our exit.
Then the beautiful Italian Tuscan hillsides hit.
Oh Tuscany! The rolling hillsides! Wine vineyards and those quintessential rolls of hay calmly resting on the gentle slopes. The lovely herds of sheep and the tiny towns on top of hilltops.
My legs have never felt like that before. I've had leg cramps but none like this. I felt them start small and then all of a sudden I could not move my legs. My thighs were solid blocks. I couldn't bend my legs. It was the most intense pain I have felt ever. I didn't know what was happening at first. It felt as if I moved I was surely going to tear the muscle fiber.
I stopped the first time they happened and massaged them out. Then they hit again as we made our way up a hill in a quieter one way street. My screams startled the family in the house I had unavoidably fallen in front of. They ran out, thinking surely someone was dying. I couldn't move. I couldn't bend my legs. It was worse this time and there was a truck coming. Jonathan begged me to cross the street to safety, the truck was coming. I couldn't. I couldn't move it felt I would snap my muscle in two if I did. I didn't care. "let it hit me, I can't move" I thought.
The truck passed somehow and I finally was able to move to the other side of the road into a small clearing. Between falling more often than not and the cramps my fears grew. Again what had I done. I couldn't do this and now I was endangering Jonathan and myself.
At the end of the day we were met with one last small uphill around a corner. A blind corner in the road and my legs started to cramp again. "Keep going" Jonathan urged. I couldn't, my bike wouldn't change into the small gear and my legs were giving out.
"Keep going, we are going to get hit by a car" He yelled.
I got off my bike to push it up and the cramps hit once again in all its glory. I forced myself walk up that small hill as my legs cramped out. I hurt even more. I could feel my muscles shake and refuse to bend as I pushed my bike up.
Then I remembered as a kid the magical powers of "walking it off" I told myself, "Just walk it off Diana. Your pain, your fear, just walk it off and keep going"
I made it to the top and onto safety.
Day one had begun great and now it had beaten me to my core. Maybe all my fears where correct. Maybe I can't really do this.
We looked for a quiet spot to camp for the night. Our first wild camping spot. A part of me was scared to get caught and a part of me grateful the day was over. We made camp in a tall grass field next to an electric power plant. The humming sounds of the generators lulled me to sleep.
I woke at night to see Jonathan sleeping. I stared into the night sky and saw a shooting star. I was scared for tomorrow. I was scared for it all and now after one day I was too weak to pull this charade off.
So now what?