Sweaty Betty and the Dead Duck.

Day 11 – 12th July 2020 – San Marino to Ancona, Italy

I am up for breakfast this morning, but not entirely looking forward to it with Grumps.  I go down and a small white haired lady, who I assume to be Grumps’ mum, gestures at me to follow her.  I am taken to the inner sanctum, the rear of the restaurant, where tables are laid for breakfast, which is not that great, but better than nothing.  A couple of croissants and a coffee is all.

I’m packing up the bike and mama appears, I gather she doesn’t speak any English, but she does manage to say ‘finish?’ – I take it she is waiting to clean my room, I gesture that I will be a few minutes longer.  Grumpy does not make an appearance I’m glad to say.

All packed and it’s up the steep roads to reach the top where the old town is situated.  All the roads are very steep.  I see a couple of bike parking places, but there is no way I can park this on them, they are practically vertical!  I carry on up and spot a P sign for parking, I ride in, same problem so carry on up.  I see another P parking in front.. it’s flat.. hurrah.  There is a barrier with a woman attendant, she says I cannot park there and points upwards.  Ok, I keep going.  I then come to a roundabout where there is another parking lot so pull in.  I ride around looking for a suitable spot when a police car pulls up and 2 Carabinieri jump out… OMG what have I done now??  It’s ok, they just tell me I can’t park there, go up into the town, there is plenty of bike parking up there.  Whew! that’s a relief.  Ok, so up another couple of levels and at last am at the top, there is a car park in front and I see a couple of scooters parked up… and it seems pretty flat.. yay!

I can’t wait to have a look around… it seems amazing, so well preserved.  I go a bit snappy happy…

and the views are amazing… a 360 degree look out over Italy and the Adriatic Coast.

Of course it is a complete tourist trap, every street is bursting with shops of all different shapes and sizes, but I am amazed to see guns and knives of all descriptions being sold here.  Of course I need a souvenir… is that knife number 12 in my bags now??

I can’t resist a rainbow… this will have to be my Pride knife.

I am also tempted by a pair of RayBans, the same ones I lost in Niagara Falls at 2/3rds the price, but I manage to resist.

As I enter the main square, I am impressed to see a statue of a woman as the only figure, she must have been someone very important.

Then I notice lots of blokes in uniforms of varying ornateness and sporting quite a bit of plumage…

Aye, Aye, methinks, something is afoot.  There is a restaurant at the side of the square so I get a table out front and order a coffee while I wait to see what the fuss is going to be about.

A chap in a ‘good’ suit wanders towards the building, the uniforms suddenly brace up and start saluting.. ok he’s important.  A couple of minutes later, another suit walks up.. same result.  Yes, something is definitely going to happen.  Quite a few people have started to gather; ok I’d better get myself a good spot to film what happens.  And here it is:


The blokes in green with the white feathers were obviously first in the queue outside the wardrobe department don’t you think!

Not exactly the Lord Mayors Show is it…. maybe there is more to come, but I am limited for time so move on. (p.s. have taken the sound off so you won’t hear me swearing about grandad with the pushchair).

Lots more snaps and then I stop for lunch before making my way back to the bike.

This is another statue of a woman,

again must be an important person, but what intrigued me is; here she is, clutching a baby, half naked, seemingly fleeing, in a pair of Cuban heeled mules… very curious to say the least.

I am then joined for lunch by an uninvited guest who just settled down and stayed there until I had finished.

I get back to the bike and there is a public loo so I can get changed into my bike gear and get going.  The temperature is in the 30s and I am absolutely sweltering as I have had to push the bike onto still flatter ground to get on, this is just effing ridiculous, am seriously hating this bike right now.  The sweat is dripping off me and I cannot wait to get down onto the flat roads.  I am petrified I will have to try and stop and hold this weight on a steep hill.

As I make my way down the steeeeep roads, I don’t know why and this has never happened before in 40 years of riding/driving on the continent, but I go the wrong way around the roundabout at the closed car park, the policeman comes into the road and puts out his hand, even then I’m thinking oh I can’t come down this road, I just haven’t clicked at all.. then I realise, I mean what a plonker.  The policeman stops the traffic for me, but I have already headed into the car park and turned around, I think he is very amused by it all.


At last I am out of San Marino and back into Italy on my way to Ancona… all in all San Marino was a fabulous stop off, I really enjoyed it.  I think sometimes people wonder why I don’t do more visiting of places etc.  To be honest I am very well satisfied with my few hours, I only have 3 things I want to do on my bike tours.. ride my bike, take photographs and try to have some adventures; these are my passions.

The ride to Ancona is pretty uneventful.  Even though it looks as though I was riding along the Adriatic in the Relive recording, it was mostly hidden behind lots of buildings as the road is set behind them.  There was one shortish stretch that was in view of the water, but that was it.

I did notice this of course… no it’s not the same one!

I arrive in Ancona and follow the signs for the ferry port.

I find the ticket office and check in.. all very smooth.  I am told to ride around to ferry point number 9, so off I go.  There are a couple of bikes already there and some cars.  We are held there for a while so I switch off the engine.  When we are called forward I start Minnie up, but when I put her into gear she cuts out.. WTF??  I immediately check my side stand.. no it’s up ok so I try again, nope as soon as I try first gear it is just cutting out, bloody hell.  I get off the bike and two of the other bikers come over to help.  They are both Italian with perfect English of course.  They try and help, although there is not much can be done here, we just wiggle the wiring around and try the bike again and again.. no not having it.  I try operating all the switches on the left hand side… main beam, horn, indicators left and right… try the bike into second gear.. yay it works.. phew!

We are then called forward to passport control.. Minnie cuts out and am back to square one.  In the end I have to push the bike to the passport control desk.  I pass through, still pushing the bike towards the ship.  The 2 Italians come and help me push then they have to go back for their bikes.  One of them rides off to the ship and the other continues to help me until I am almost at the ship; he explains they are on a different ship and he is late.  I tell him he must go and thank you so much and your friend too for all your help.  He says he will tell the crew of my ship, the Marko Polo, and ask them to help and with that he is gone.. I didn’t even get their names.

I push it a way further myself and then one of the crew members comes to help.  To actually get the bike up the ramp onto the ship it takes me and 3 big crew members to get her onboard.  They push it to one side and we leave it there.  I am absolutely wringing with sweat and can’t wait to get to my cabin and have a shower.  As for Minnie, I could just chuck her over the side at the moment.. but realistically I can try and fix her when I get off the ship in Split, I think it is the side stand sensor, (a safety feature on all bikes, I believe, that won’t allow the bike to move off if the side stand is extended), that is at fault or the switch that is activated by the clutch lever, it’s two ends of the same circuit so either could be broken/malfunctioning.  Well, there’s nothing I can do now, so wait and see what happens.  Ultimately, I have breakdown insurance so I can get her recovered to a garage for repair if needed.

I make my way to my cabin… it’s very ‘basic’, think I have been spoilt by Brittany Ferries.  Oh no, I only have a wash basin, no shower or toilet!  I have a look out in the corridor and a couple of doors away there is a shower with toilet.. ok so I have to share facilities, no problem.

A few photos as we leave Ancona…

I go and have dinner, I have paid extra for this again.   This time it’s a very skinny ‘steak’, a few chips, side salad and a rather odd looking cake.  The cake was extremely sweet, even worse than the italian treacle tart.. one bite was enough, yuck!

After dinner I decide to put out some feelers… on the various facebook groups I am a member of… WRWR, Himalayan Owners Group, Dykes on Bikes London to get some advice on a quick repair for Minnie.  I get loads of responses with various ideas, all of which I will try in the morning.

Julia Wall, a woman I met on WRWR, has kindly put me in touch with another woman biker who lives near Zadar an hour or so above Sibenik, where I am staying the first couple of nights; we have been in conversation about meeting up and going for a ride together.  She responds by suggesting she come and meet me in the morning and see if she can be of help, I think that is so wonderfully good of her given we have never met.  I am very grateful for the support, but after much discussion we decide it would be better for me to have a go at fixing it and if no luck get her recovered to a garage.  I will certainly be riding up to Zadar to meet with Cheryl Carlisle once I am back on the road.. what a star xx

What with all the pushing etc. I am absolutely whacked, so an early night for me.





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2 thoughts on “Sweaty Betty and the Dead Duck.

  1. I’ve just discovered your blog pogs it’s brilliant I shall continue to follow your adventures xxx

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