Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bike Across Italy: Day 9

Hotel Capo Casale: Via Capo Casale, 10  Maratea tel +39 0973-871308 fax +39 0973-871049
Distance: Day/Cumul (km)
Distance: Day/Cumul (mi)
Alt Gain: Day/Cumul (m)
Alt Gain: Day/Cumul (ft)
Alt Max (m)
Alt Max (ft)

Maratea (300m)
89 / 703
55 / 437

Every night at dinner our guides Dana and Frank describe what's up the next day, and always in superlative terms:  "tomorrow will be the longest ride of the trip," or, "tomorrow will be the toughest climb of the trip," or, "tomorrow will be the steepest ride of the trip," etc.  Tonight at dinner was no exception, tomorrow, we were told, will be the most climbing of the trip, clocking in at over 7,000 feet.  

But here's what happened today:

Looking down past a town towards the Med Sea
It started out with a ride out of the coast town of Maratea, leading to an optional loop climb.  I've done all the optional loops this week, something that the better riders do which keeps the group more clustered together.  So we climbed a few extra thousand feet and 10 or 15 extra km, then rejoined the rest of the group after descending back from 1,000 feet down to sea level at the Mediterranean, then climbed back again as our route zig zagged us to coastal roads then back into the hills and cliffs towering a thousand or more feet above the sea, 
The Cilentan Coast of the Italian Mediterranean.
then back to the sea through the towns of Sapia and Aquafredda, and finally back for a final and tough climb up to the hillside town of Maratea, and to our hotel at the very top of the town, with a commanding view of the village and beyond it to the sea.
Maratea from my hotel window
It was a rough ride for me:  the first climb was great, but the second I almost bonked: it was a Iong hot climb in full sun and no shade, and I think I allowed myself to dehydrate and developed a headache and dropped back in the group with little energy.  But lunch of bruschetta with fresh tomatoes and an octopus salad, gelatto, and coffee recharged the batteries and I finished the day feeling great.

There are always funny things about things each day.  Today there was a small road that bypassed a highway tunnel, an old highway that is very, very narrow and overlooking a drop down to the sea.  The name of the road translated from Italian is "make me an offer for my donkey."  This comes from the fact that the road is too narrow for two donkeys to pass each other, so strangers meeting on the road would negotiate a price to see whose donkey got chucked off the cliff.

Entering the town of Maratea

After showers and a brief 15min rest we trekked by foot down into the piazza for a tasting of local and Calabrian salumis, cheeses, olives, and wines, 
A local digestive made in Maratea
then trekked back up to our hotel for dinner: 
Mussels, anchovies

Spaghetti, anchovies, bread crumbs

Swordfish, olives
and a dessert tarte of fresh melon and saboyan, followed, of course, by espresso and grappa.  It was enjoyed on a terrace overlooking the village and the hills above.

Tomorrow is the penultimate ride of the trip, and it's hard to believe it's all drawing to a close.  We ride inland about 60mi and climb 7,000 feet into Calabria, a region I'm really looking forward to seeing (and tasting and drinking).  We're arriving in Morano Colabro and we're staying at the BEST hotel in town.  In fact, it's the ONLY hotel in town.

Internet access here, as everywhere, is limited to the hotel lobby and I just, at 11:30pm, don't have the time to sit here for 3 hours while my images upload to, so the image website has still not been updated with the hundreds of photos taken.  Sorry about that, but I hope in Rome to be able to upload all these pictures.  For sure the hotels in Calabria will not have good, if any, internet access.
Bike Across Italy:  From Polignano a Mare > Alberobello > Matera > Montescaglioso  > Castelmezzano > Padula > Palinuro > Maratea > Morano Colabro > Centraro in 11 days
Click image to check out the album of photos from the trip.

1 comment:

speedskater42k said...

Wow, that's a great ride today, and really great photos.