27 July 2009

Day 65

The Bridge is Down, originally uploaded by Ryan Runs Europe.

38.1 Kilometers.
Matteo came and opened up the door for me around 10:30, and we headed out to grab something to eat together. Afterwards, I spent some time running around town trying to find a replacement for my depleted body glide. The heat is definitely causing some potential problems, so after a few stops, I found a bike shop which had something I could use. I ended up buying "Ozone Elite Protect Cream," which while fairly expensive and oversized for my needs, had Le Corbusier's modular man wearing bike shorts as its logo, so I took that as a sign that it would work for me.
Some people had informed me the day before that the bridge to Piacenza was down, and that I wouldn't be able to get there on foot. I spent a little bit of time in the morning going over possible alternatives, but ended up deciding to go to the town across the river from Piacenza and figure out a solution when I arrived. I knew that there was a railway bridge nearby, and I was excited to MacGyver a solution when I got there. I set out of Lodi in the early afternoon, and just cruised on my way to San Rocco, the small town across the river from Piacenza. I told myself that I would run continuously until I got to San Rocco, or for two hours (when I would need to refuel)...whatever came first. I kicked out mid 6:20 miles until the two hour bell rang and I found myself at a gas station right outside of San Rocco. Not a crazy pace, but with the backpack and the heat I was definitely drained when I arrived. I went in to the shop and bought a 1.6 liter bottle of energy drink, and immediately drank half of it. I had the guy refill the rest with water, and I drank that too. I stood there for a couple minutes trying not to puke, and then immediately after that sensation went down, I drank a Powerade and another half bottle of water. I was less than 8 km from Piacenza, and a few kilometers away from the bridge, so I started heading in that direction. Due to the quantity of liquid in my stomach, I started out walking and evolved into a slow run. When I got to the closed bridge, I decided to check out how bad it was (even if a car couldn't cross it, maybe I could). I climbed over two fences with obvious no entry signs and walked to the edge of the world. The bridge was in pretty bad shape, but I didn't have many options, so I tried to figure out a solution. My solution was to jump the gap onto the second piece of the bridge and then climb up the still connected guard rail onto the third. After standing for a couple minutes, wondering if the slab of concrete hanging off the other part of the bridge would hold my weight, I decided to test it via leap of faith. It was a long ways down if it didn't hold, but luckily it did, and I found myself walking down a steep hill of broken highway to the ground below. Matteo had informed me that the bridge was broken in two places, so I wasn't really sure that even if I climbed up the crazy guard rail I would be able to get over the other place. I decided to walk over to the railway bridge and see if I might have a more viable option there. There actually was a place that I could pass safely if a train came by, so I climbed up onto the bridge and made a run for it. Luckily, no train passed by, and I got into Piacenza (half "Mad Max" style, half "Stand by Me" style, as my friends back in Lodi would put it) much easier than I had previously imagined.
Now my goal was to find something to eat and a place to stay. I walked around town, entering a few churches and walking around a few parks. Outside of one church, a man was taking photos of all the people who entered, and we ended up speaking for a bit about my trip. He took a photo of me with some nuns as well. I gave him my phone number, and he said he would call me later in the evening to see if I had found a place to stay. After a few more loops around the town, I didn't find the Internet cafe that I was looking for, and sat down in a park hoping for anything. It was around 8 pm when Carlo called and said that if I didn't have a place I could have dinner and stay with him. I went back to the church to meet him, but when I got there and called him, he said that there was an emergency and that he could no longer put me up. I told him that it was no problem, and that I hoped everything was alright, and went on my way. I got some dinner, and around 9 o'clock, I called Matteo to see if he knew anybody in Piacenza. He said that he didn't really, but that one of his friends knew a guy who was in a band at a rock concert near the train station. After an hour or two of wandering around trying to find this concert, occasionally calling Matteo for an update on directions, I eventually arrived at the outdoor concert which really wasn't anywhere near the train station. It was incredibly heavy stuff. The bands were playing "violent core," according to one of the posters I saw...and were seriously violently rocking out. Mario, the singer in the band that I had been given the name of offered to put me up, and was an incredibly nice guy, but he lived 20 km in the direction of Milan. He asked just about everyone he knew to no avail, and in turn I started asking everyone else. After talking to so many people, Mike and Chiara offered to put me up at their place. It was a ways away, but Mike offered to drive me back in the morning. I got to bed around 3 am, incredibly tired. I had made it my goal while running out of Milan to never run during mid day again...but that isn't about to happen.


  1. Awww, u look so *sweet* with those nuns.. My oldest stayed w/some nuns when she did her internship for WHO.. she had some hair raising adventures like u did which did not sit well w/me as I am sure your mom is feeling the same... Maybe your middle name should be MacGyver.. You certainly have his guts in handling situations for sure!.

  2. I can't believe you did that... Love all your running stories! I'd really like to do something like this.

    By the way, you might enjoy my recent running post: http://tearinguphouses.blogspot.com/2009/07/5-ways-to-run-your-way-rich.html

  3. Hi, I'm Matteo
    Where are you?
    Probably in Fidenza or Near Bologna..
    Mac giver is my favourite telefilm since when I was 12...;)!!!


  4. OK so that was one messed up bridge....Glad you got to the other side, dont push your luck! Thanks Matteo for taking Ryan in....All the folks who have helped him are much appreciated!!

  5. yo ryan, this is cyrus from school. i can't believe we used to run together-- i'm definitely not up for a cross-europe these days.
    you're probably not reading blogs now, but i thought maybe your fans would be interested in checking out another young travel blog. i'm touring america with a rock band right now and keeping an anthropological tour diary. if you're interested, check it out here:


    love the blog man, hope all is well

  6. interesting adventure. I'm deathly afraid of crossing bridges, by foot or by car. So, I probably wouldn't have ventured to cross that broken bridge!

    You are officially, my hero!