Rolling down the long descent out of Siena was a reminder, as if I needed one, that Tuscan hills are both longer and steeper than they look. With Rome on the signposts I took the easy navigation option and decided to follow the Via Cassia all the way home. The tailwind of the previous day had turned into a gusty crosswind, and with the harvest under way and temperatures pushing 30 degrees, it was something like sitting in a fan oven full of chaff, with the added joys of heavy lorries passing close on my lee side and the added lateral movement of the bike bringing on my usual 4pm saddlesoreness some hours early. So I was pretty shattered by the time I got to San Quirico d'Orcia for a late lunch, and predictably didn't get much further, holing up for the night in rooms in the hamlet of Gallina, where I basically slept the clock round. Might have been a smart move to check the opening times of the village pizzeria, though, but fortunately it had been a very good lunch.
Stopping there turned out to have been a wise move, since there was pretty much nowhere else to stay for the next 30km. However, the next day the wind had dropped and I was miraculously fitter, a coincidence previously noted. I left Tuscany and entered Lazio, climbing to the rim of the ancient volcanic caldera that contains the lake of Bolsena and then dropping down into it. Then, in the space of a few short km:
- I passed the 2000 km point of my journey
- One flange of my rear hub started to crack up, leaving me with a couple of spokes dangling free and a bit of a weave on the wheel.
- I visited yet another war cemetery
- I reached the 100 km marker on the Via Cassia.
I was a bit wary of the weakened wheel on the descent towards Viterbo, where I am now, but it didn't seem to get any worse. So I am now about to set out to ride the final 90 km on it, hoping for a reasonably uneventful and probably anticlimactic entry into the eternal city this evening. Which will be a bit weird. But there you go.