The next day I rode from Alessandria to Aqui Terme. Italians come from all over to relax and vacation in the thermal waters of Aqui Terme. I am not a frequent spa visitor, but I thought, “when in Aqui Terme…” (“Yes, please continue.” That’s from Anchorman Kyle, you should probably see it!). Since I wanted to save money and get the local experience, I went to the community spa. If you plan to go to a spa in Italy, be careful of the strict dress code. No sandals, towel, or bathing cap, no service!
Going to the spa was the best idea ever! It was so relaxing and helped relieve my aching muscles. I swam in their thermal pools, chilled in the sauna, and took a nap in their nature room. The best part about the spa was their shower. They had a shower with a bunch of different settings. You could set it to a jungle rain, orange scent spray. The cool spray reminded me of a light drizzle in Singapore. Of course, since I’m a man, my favorite part of the shower was the barbaric setting, you just pull a cord and a giant bucket of cold water would dump on your head (the warm flower scent was an excellent combo with the bucket…I mean…). I must have spent 30 minutes in the shower trying out every possible combination. It was awesome!
When I woke up the next day, I felt rejuvenated. I guess the spa did the trick. As I began the 40 mile bike ride to the coast, I realized that my body was adjusting to the heavy cycling. My legs didn’t hurt as much, I could peddle longer, and cycle faster. Just as I was getting in a groove (and images of cycling in the Tour De France with my buddy Lance was playing in my head), the landscape changed. All of a sudden the relatively flat land turned into steep hills and mountains. Every time I slowly summited a hill, coasting downhill barely gave me enough time to catch my breath to begin a new ascent.
After riding up and coasting down for what seemed like forever, I made it to the top of the last hill. At the top of the hill I could see a valley covered in clouds. A rainstorm was headed my way. Before I could begin my descent, it started to rain. I quickly found shelter under some trees and decided it was time for a lunch break. Without a doubt, I must have looked like a crazy person, sitting in the forest eating a peanut butter sandwich in the rain. Luckily the storm quickly passed.
Since the road was slick, I was worried to descend too fast, so initially, I took my time. Each time I braked, my bike did not want to comply with my cautious attitude. My bike was right. The steepest downhill section of my ride wasn’t meant for caution, but for speed. I let go of the brakes and went flying down the hill. Never in my life have I gone that fast on a bike. The more my speed increased, the more unstable my bike became. My grip tightened on the handlebars and the adrenaline ran through my veins. The speed almost became too much as my bike started to wobble. Just when I was about to apply the brakes, the road flattened out.
I coasted around a long bend and then out of nowhere the ocean appeared. It was an incredible sight! Three days of cycling, a near death experience, and exhaustion made my goal of making it to the coast of Italy seem impossible. There, in front of me, was a seemingly impossible goal accomplished. I can’t explain the joy and satisfaction I felt. It was crazy that the simple sight of the ocean could bring about so many emotions.