Stage 9. What’s the most convoluted route to Florence?

Stage 9 took 170km to do what could have been a 52km trip. This morning it was Cold and Wet which did not bode well for a stage ride. The cyclist said this was the first very big climbs of the Giro. This was true in relation to the height at the top for two of the climbs and while there were steep parts, to me they were not as brutal as what we have endured for the last few days. Obviously i didn’t cycle them. I couldn’t have gone for more than a few meters as thy were practically vertical. These mountains were longer more than brutal. Which is an other form of endurance.

The Cyclist was very cold today, especially this morning. I was cold too after the warm sun we had had since we left Naples. He kitted himself in his leg and arm warmers, a gilet and his waterproof fluorescent jacket. I like it when he wears that. It makes him more easy to spot. It isn’t ventalated though so he gets very hot. It took him a while to get warm today. About half the ride in fact. He even stopped to change gloves from his normal cycling fingerless ones to his full mountain gloves, though the new thick winter ones stayed in the bag ready for the 2000+ metre climbs yet to come. Every time I got out of the car, to take photos, into the cold and wind it made me dither and feel sorry for him. Pointless saying anything to him though. Such is his stubborn determination to every inch of each stage.

It made a change as today was Sunday and at 9am European time, the mountain roads were quiet. At that time we were about an hour in, as we had set off about 8am today. That is 8am from the start point which was a drive from the B&B. Off we went not knowing if we would end up on different roads, but I had vowed to stay close. No way did I want to end up going into Firenze/Florence and the cyclist be nowhere to be seen. We drove into Florence on our way to Gabicce in 2007 and I knew exactly what was to come.

The views going up the mountains and at the top were lovely. Lots of really old mountain towns. The sort you see on tourist brochures but can never find. Like any country you have o get off the beaten track to source it’s treasures. There are so mant of them. Mostly I don’t have time to stop for photos as because its at the top of a climb the cyclist ducks low over the handle bars to speed down the other side and give his legs a rest. It’s often a struggle to keep up as he can wizz the cycle round hairpin bends way faster than I can in the car. This little Meriva doesn’t know what’s hit it the last 10 days. Long journeys. God awful bone breaking roads and rolling round hairpin S bends downhill and up.

Even though he had fuelled up yesterday he still wanted extra food today. the first hing he asked for wad Malt loaf on the go. I kept a watch for police and traffic as I buttered it while coasting along soIi kept him in sight. Its an art learned by practice and I got my brown belt in it last year. We have perfected window feeding so one after the other I passed the thickly Lurpak’d malt loaf bar.

The sun would come out for a while pretending it was going to get warm, but then it would disappear and it would go cold. There was a huge thunder clap in between showers and I thought we were In trouble. But we just caught the edge of the storm as we just went in and out of its edge. The cyclist had to be more carful now going downhill as the roads would be vey slippery.

To add to our problems today the Cool box fridge packed up, not the cool box but the thing that goes in the Cigarette lighter to power it. It was intermittent yesterday but with all the stop starting I do it gave up. It did well for Le Tour last year and the first 10days of being away. Still, it is okay when plugged into the mains. It more my headache than the cyclists. Luckily I had asked the owner to freeze our ice packs last night.

It was a Long journey to our accommodation that is near the start on Tuesday. And no surprise we went through tunnel after tunnel. The cyclist chuckled to himself countering that he liked going into the tunnels because he thought it was like being in The Shire and going into Biblo Baggins house. As it was mostly motorway for the 4 hour drive and the cyclist was driving, I took the opportunity to build my blogs from the notes I made.

When we got off the motorway to get to our location we turned up a road as directed by the sat nav only to fine a huge barrier across our side of the road. There was nothing to say why, so being a law abiding citizen, I told the Cyclist to ignore the barrier and go round it to see whether we could get through anyway. I mean even in the UK you can get through sometimes when the barriers say road closed. We soon found out why there was a barrier. The road was completely wished away and there were stones/rocks as far as we could see with water running though. Drat. This displeased the cyclist who was understandably very tired by this time. I put both navigation devices to detour and off we went again. Further along there was a big bridge a mile long and so we had a good gawp as we went over slowly. It looks like there had been a flood like those we see on the news sometimes. Those that wash away and destroy everything. Maybe the snow in the nearby mountains decided to melt all at once?

When we got to the accommodation there was nobody there. I phoned the telephone number and after some very difficult “non cappice lady” comments from the other end of the phone, they understood we had arrived. Some 5 minutes later a very German looking blond guy (who looked like you would expect Hans from the sound of music to look when grown up), turned up and gestured that we follow him in the car. It was getting on for 9pm buy this time and our stay not being in the exact place I had booked was a little concerning. The down was deserted. Well town- no shops so more like a country village. But once we pulled up to where we had followed our fears were unfounded. It looked as if the whole town was here. First impressions were that it must be the local eatery as well as accommodation. What happened after we got out of the car was u expected and the cyclist thought that he had been transported to some surreal place from one of his vivid dreams.

Don’t book in, we were instructed. Have an apperetif first then check in. The cyclist was too tired to care and just agreed to anything if it meant he could get straight to use their facilities. We were directed to stand by the till at the entrance to the restaurant which was very busy. Moments later the blond guy came back and poured two small prosecco’s. At this point if he had given me the bottle I would have filled the glass rather than put that amount in. But where are my manners. This is an apperetif. All I can say is he has obviously not been a Bewdley resident or been to one of the Friday night soirée’s with me and Mrs G&T.

As everyone was eating I asked if we could have dinner as I decided this was a better option for the cyclist as he could just sit and choose something other than pasta that I would have to cook. The cyclist was still in his cycling kit so he popped to the car to throw his shorts and fleece over the top. It turns out that this is a family run business that is a farm, that is open to the public and for school trips. They cook with their own grown organic produce and also sell preserves etc that they have produced. A series of family members came and spoke to us. It turns out that the gentleman at the desk at the front of the house is Papa. The blond guy is a son, there was a daughter working too and another son, who was outgoingly mad, came to take our order as soon as we had sat down. Blimey. Papa had found us a menu with English translation and luckily I had seen a spinach and cheese crepe as he proudly showed us it had English in it. I asked for the crepe. The cyclist hadn’t had time to look so the mad son said he would choose for him. As I said the cyclist was beyond caring so he agreed ordering a beer.

Actually the food was delicious. The cyclist was given a crepe like mine and one with bacon in too. We said we didn’t want the second main course but the mad son came over once he found out and said we must eat. He said he would choose again for the cyclist and I said I was full thank you. No. I wasn’t getting away with that so I said I would have something from the salad bar. The second main for the cyclist were thick slices of chicken breast in an orange sauce with spinach and Rocket. He tucked in saying he had said he was full but if the son kept bringing things then he would eat it. I really was full so as the cyclist tucked in I just sat quietly sipping my sparkling water. The I heard “Lady! Lady” I looked to see the mad son in the middle of the restaurant. He shouted “Lady, vegetables!” Bugger. I got up and as I walked towards him he was laughing saying “I control you”. The cyclist had been watching the lightening through the roof windows and got me to watch too. The entire building was very Austrian mountain chalet looking with wide wooden beams. The mad son had told us that he had been to York to go fox hunting and judging from the four most magnificent saddles in the foyer I assume they are very keen horse people.

After the cyclist said he was full and we stood up to go. Did we not want a coffee? Grappa? Limoncello? No thank you. I was led to the fron of house where I was invited to take and try a glass of one of a variety of home brewed liqueurs. Pumpkin, mint, nut, berries and honey. I took a nut and fruit one and followed the waiter to our room after being given a key by Papa and Invited to attend Chef school or make mosaics, pony trek, sit by the pool or go mountain biking, in the morning. And to have a big breakfast with eggs and everything he said. I duly followed the waiter out the back and for what seemed like a trek at the time. We did however pass the pool that looked very nice. Well the room didn’t have a kitchenette as advertised but it was very nice and as we would eat at the restaurant it didn’t matter.

The cyclist fell into bed and was very soon out for the count. I very carefully prized the TV remote from his hands and channel hopped until I came across the movie National Treasure. I ended up sipping both liqueurs before calling it a day myself.

2 Responses

  1. It was nice food too. Did Boo show you the pics I sent her of where we were? And the hail storm video?