Yes, it’s me again but a lot has changed since I last did a blog. We are now starting to see several road signs for Roma – very exciting. The city of seven hills and Romulus and Remus is not too far away now – just over a hundred miles or so. Today’s ride was meant to be one of those so-called easy rides on the flat. After all we were only going about 25 miles along the coast. But that is never straightforward, especially in Tuscany. It all started well though as we cruised along on a cycle path for the first ten miles or so – flat as a pancake and the sun was warm on our backs.
Then we hit a big snag as the only way to get where we wanted to appeared to be to join a busy dual carriageway and we weren’t even sure whether it had turned itself into a motorway at this point – which meant it would be a) too dangerous for us and b)illegal. We concluded it wasn’t a motorway at this point, swallowed hard and rode along the monster road for about half a mile and then spotted a track on the right. We gratefully turned into it only to find we were somehow on a small path leading to a farm. Courtesy of the film Deliverance it is at this point the duelling banjo theme begins to play in our head. Right on cue around eight yapping demented dogs swarmed out of the farm building and chased us down the track. Phil was in the lead but yours truly was caught by one or two of these barking blighters – fortunately they didn’t bite but it was all a bit scary. Especially as we could hear what sounded like two gunshots at the same time. We assumed someone was trying to scare off birds and they weren’t shooting at us. But who knows? To add to the mayhem a wild deer then ran out ahead of us. Soon we had escaped down the track and saw we could progress if we went further inland up a small road into the hills. Bit of a blow when I was hoping for a respite from the mountains but hey, after being chased by a packed of four-legged beasts, I happily took it. In the end the hills were rolling and not too steep – and soon we were on great deserted good-quality roads with views of the countryside.
After that it appeared to be plain sailing as we could see the sea again below us. But then oh no. We had to meet up with the dreaded monster SS1 road (or the E80 pan-European route as it is sometimes known.) We have come across this road further up the coast when it was more benign. It even has a more romantic name which makes you warm to it a little – the via Aurelia – an ancient road dating back to around 240 BC which led out of Rome up the west coast of Italy. Phil the expert map reader said he couldn’t see an alternative to riding the last 5 kilometres on this stretch of the SS1. So we gritted our teeth and joined it again – but then, salvation. A bike path appeared alongside the road and soon we were at the campsite just north of Albinia – no, that’s not a spelling mistake. We had not made it as far as Albania – but Albinia.
Tim and Brandi had already rustled up lunch for us at the campsite.
In addition to our usual salad, bread, ham and cheese Tim had made some egg mayonnaise. Well, we needed an injection of protein after those hills. The 25 mile easy ride had turned into a 35 mile tough one, especially as we ran into some headwinds near the end. After lunch we wandered down the path to the beach – only 100 metres away – and threw a bouncing ball around in the sea. It wasn’t cold and there were great views of the coast, mountains and the nearby island of Elba where Napoleon was in exile for a short time. All in all a classic Bath to Rome day – lots of ups and downs – but also plenty to savour and enjoy.