Sunday, September 30, 2012

In Which We Become the Bike Tourists Who Carry Hammocks

The weather forecast wasn't great, more wind and rain planned for the day that should take us almost to Castelsardo. Not cold, but cool. Not really raining, but really humid. And not sunny. Surveying the multiple maps, which each had some useful features but lacked other necessary information, I determined that this day might include our biggest climb. It looked like the road would go up and down a bit, then up over something kind of big (the road zig-zagged on the map. maybe we need better maps) and then down again on the other side. We are pretty cocky at this point. I mean... the Alps? What is a 1000m climb anyway?

Italy continues to give great cloud

The road did indeed do what I thought it would. We did some minor climbs, had some incredible descents, and then settled in for a spin up a fairly significant mountain. The past few weeks did us proud and we reached the top fully thrilled at how not difficult it felt. The view was gorgeous. The little town at the top multi-colored and silent. My camera, a solid underperformer in mixed light situations.

This climb gave us an incredible reward. Again we just kept going down and it felt like we were well below sea level before the road flattened out. Not having a tight schedule, knowing this is the last bit of bike vacation, I think my brain went right into a state of pure appreciation of everything that happened. The climbing was good. The descending was excellent. And the campsite we arrived at was our favorite.

Not long after we pulled in, a really nice couple from New Zealand showed up on touring bikes loaded up. I looked over and exclaimed, "Oh look! It's us!" We stopped by and found out that they had started from Paris and been touring Spain, and they'd just arrived that morning from Barcelona. We asked them the burning question: how long is that ferry? Only about 12 hours. Relief. We shared our campsite map since they were heading in the opposite direction and were going to find a lot of campsites closed. September 30th. Season is over.

And this is when I tell you that we are now the proud owners of two parachute silk hammocks. Worth every ounce of weight they added to our overly heavy bags. We spent most of the afternoon reading in our hammocks. Seriously.

We did also go to the beach, where it was windy and too cold to swim.
 But looking east, to where we're headed, everything looked just fine.
that small lump is Castelsardo

In the morning we reluctantly packed up. If we could have, we'd have stayed again at this campsite. It was really lovely with it's short little pine trees and terraced tent areas. But they were closing that day so we headed east and slightly south again in the direction of the last open campsite before Porto Torres. 

We decided to not take the main road across and instead take the slightly longer route around the coast and through Castelsardo. Which meant a climb right off the bat. Our decision seemed like a bad one, until we started rolling toward the coast again and came around a corner and BAM! breath taken away.

I don't think photos will do it justice, but we were gobsmacked. The sunlight was patchy and made the many-colored buildings glow a bit where the light hit them right. We took a bunch of pictures.

 it's too bright to look into the sun

We rounded the bend and saw some roadies stopped right on the road in town, considering a broken chain. Joshua has all the parts, and he quickly helped them out. We heard what sounded like dramatic thunder. But how is that even possible, the day is so nice?

Thunder is exactly what we got. We also got splattered with big, fresh-off-the-water raindrops from a storm that seemingly came out of nowhere. Okay, it came off the water. We watched it come as we pedaled south-east, hoping that we'd stay on the edge and not get soaked. By some miracle, that's exactly what we did. However, later on we did get soaked. We reached the campsite for the evening while still quite wet and with rain still coming down. My thought as we were riding alongside the giant wall and tattered flags of the campsite was: Stoked that's not our site for the night. Then I saw the sign, recognized the name, and told Joshua that this was it. 

We checked in and then just waited out the rain under the awning of the office. The rain just kept coming. We were mostly dry thanks to our big ol' ponchos. No hurry. Less than 10k to get to Porto Torres in the morning. We'd be staying in a hotel, too, because we had a 6am ferry and didn't want to do that 10k during a pitch black morning.

When the rain was almost done, we headed back up the road to a restaurant we'd seen. Lunch time was upon us and we were hungry. We proceeded to have aperitifs, a four course meal of very fresh sea food, a bottle of Sardinian wine, dessert, coffee, and grappa. This is what we've been saving for, right? We spent a good two or three hours in that restaurant, no doubt contradicting the expectations of the wait staff who probably looked at our sloppy outfits and weird sandals and thought we'd be ordering a cheap meal. No siree, bring it all out. 

When we emerged, the weather had transformed completely. Actually we watched it happen and left when we felt it was hot enough to call a beach day. We set up camp quickly, including the hammocks, and headed across the highway to the waiting sand and sea.

looking back towards Castelsardo

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