Hello to everyone from cloudy, rainy and cold Florence,
Since our last update from Rome we have covered a fair bit of territory on our cycle across Italy to the east coast. Wish we had looked at a map before we headed out as TK&A in its quest to hit 45 countries decided to go from the east to the west then back east before we again headed west as they wanted to add the Republic of San Marino to the list, the main problem is that there are a couple of killer mountain ranges between the two coasts!!!! And we have as yet to perfect the art of mountain climbing (we leave that to the goats)
Departed Rome for Assisi, which turned out to be a 162km day. Following a meager breakfast it was off to do approximately 6000 feet of vertical on a reasonably nice ride but a wee bit long. The night was one of our few hotels on TK&A the showers were cold, and the gear trucks never arrived until 7:30PM, so we ended up eating dinner in our bike clothes (smelly and wet). Next day was a layover day and we took the time to visit a couple of basilicas and the remains of St. Francis. There is evidence of the earthquake everywhere you look and the restoration is on going.
The first nights meal was great but the following evening was somewhat of a surprise as we are in the heart of fine cuisine, never knew the Italians were big on cold hamburgers and hot dogs!! Ugh.
After our layover day it was off to Urbano, 115km with over 6500 feet of vertical, started out climbing from the hotel and ended the day with an 8km up hill, all in all a very grueling day. Supper was great as was the hotel room, albeit it meager. It was nice to be inside. The days have been very cold and our downhill runs have been freezing.
The next morning we headed off on our own alternate route to Caprese de Michelangelo, than that laid out by TK&A. We along with quite a few others decided seeing San Marco would not be the highlight of the trip. The route we planned took us along a valley before we started our daily regimen of climbing. We covered 103km vs. 135 the planned route and climbed a mere 6700 feet vs. the 8500+feet the other folks did. As it was, we had two extremely difficult mountain pass climbs but we looked like we had a good time, the others looked ready for bed. Evening meal was good but not great.
Following morning it was off to Florence. The morning temperature was in the low 30's F and started off with a short but cold downhill. Not to worry about the cold as we started another significant climb over another mountain pass. This climb took well over an hour to complete and was discouraging to say the least. The remainder of the day was more up than down with another significant mountain pass before our descent and nice ride into Florence. We have decided some winter gloves are in order so tomorrow on our day off we will hit the bike stores. Give us some of that beautiful, warm Florida sunshine!
Florence looks like it will be a neat city and we have decided on a hotel room vs. camping in the campgrounds. The space for tents is rather limited as has been the case in most of the campgrounds and it is a long walk to the city where they are serving dinner and breakfast.
All in all we are having a good time but it is regrettable what we are forced to spend in order to make the trip what we had hoped for. Some people still claim they are having the time of their life and feel they are getting value for money. They are a select few. The trip was obviously planned from a car and with little regard for the cyclists; the average age being 50 should have dictated a close look at the terrain and the mileage. It is amazing to see the group on a moderate 100+ km day vs. a 165km killer.
Sickness and accidents continue to plague the group. The campgrounds and hotel's sound like the TB ward of a hospital what with all the hacking and coughing. The use of antibiotics is wide spread and everyone is joking that the strains are mutating and coming back to haunt the group. One fellow has been so sick he decided to go back home to get a proper work up from his doctor. In addition to the crud we have had a couple of more fractures, one a pelvis the other a collarbone.
Tomorrow we are off to Pisa to see the leaning tower and, if we can believe the route guide, it will be a relatively flat ride and the distance is sane.
The bike is going well, Mary is successfully holding off getting sick and I am still fighting the crud and I think I am slowly winning.
Will close for now and thank you to those who continue to write. Please excuse us if we do not respond but as mentioned before e-mail access is limited and we try and cover everything in our update.
So long, Dave & Mary