13/07/2019 - Finally departure

Posted on 17 July 2019, by Arianna

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Feeling "glamorous" with so many people taking pictures of us!

And so, finally, the departure! The last few days have been absolutely crazy, and we have been regretting all the wasted moments spent doing little for the preparations - thinking as usual that we had plenty of time still… But we didn’t!!

We were up until 2am the day before departure, trying to figure out whether everything would fit in the panniers. Thankfully, since we knew that we would carry more stuff than usual, we had upgraded my regular Ortlieb panniers to the “pro” version, meaning a whole 30L more of volume. Yet, even with the increased capacity, it was so close! I would have happily left behind the thermos, but Daniel didn’t want to hear about it. And Zola repeated that her sleeping bag was absolutely necessary…

I woke up the next day at 5am to finish work. Yes, WORK! The one that supposedly had ended on the 14th of June (at least the money had ended), and yet somehow was still lingering over me. So I went through the wonderfully complicated submission system of Nature, to submit my last paper. Really not recommended at 5am, when you are in a rush. Yet, “What a good job!”, I said to myself - “A successful paper submission!”. How wrong I was and how I had to redo everything at Simplon pass a couple of days later… But that’s another story.

So by 6am the paper was done, we had a last decent shower, breakfasted well and packed everything. I was surprised that my bike could still move with all the weight… Damn the 70L pro panniers!

Finally we went quickly down to Orta san Giulio market square, where a journalist was waiting for us (we were late of course). From then it was a confused succession of people taking pictures of us, asking questions, making interviews, giving us t-shirts and croissants (thanks Su!), taking more pictures and even videos, asking to sign insurance documents (thanks to Sara insurance Borgomanero) and offering money (thanks to Elena, Luca and Patrizio for having come all the way from Turin and collected money for us from INRiM!). And eventually, at about 11am we were off!

The banner at our departure in Orta san Giulio market square
The banner at our departure in Orta san Giulio market square

After such glamorous departure it was very lucky that nobody saw (nor filmed, hopefully) the shameful moment when - after having cycled about 250 metres - my bike chain fell off. Daniel quickly fixed it and we were off again, this time for real!

Reaching Omegna and saying bye to my beloved Orta Lake was surreal. As was being recognised and stopped by people on the street that had read our story on the local newspapers. We didn’t go much far that day before collapsing in a campsite on Mergozzo lake, with the mind full of thoughts and emotions, and an empty stomach in Zola’s case.

I will always remember this day, as the day when I started a new chapter in my life, hopefully a challenging and enriching one, for me and other people.

Thank you all for a wonderful day! Special thanks go to my mum and Marco for having helped us publicise our project and for all their support. Also thanks to my aunt and uncle for all they do for us.



reaching the start point of the bicycle-shaped route

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