Saturday, September 28, 2013

San Quirico d'Orcia

Our ride started out trying to get out of town. It seems that the larger the town, the larger the problem. In most cases, the Pilgrim route starts at he church or in this case, the Cathedral.

We went back to where we recieved the stamp for our Pilgrim Passports and asked the grump behind the counter where the route started. She wasn't happier this morning than she was when we got the stamp.
She pointed away and said " You need to buy the ticket over there!"
having to pay for everything in this town I really wasn't sure if she knew exactly what I was talking about, but prety sure she didnt.

That's when I called in Barbara to handle the matter.

We of course, headed out the wrong way. We did however pick up the trail after about 6k and were now back in the gravel trail, what Barbara calls "Loosey Goosey" and sliding along happyly.

Flat for the most part, riding in a post harvarst world of greys and browns.
The trail is very dry and dusty. just when you think that you are surely free of cars, one passes at seed followed by a huge cloud of dust. You try not to breath it, but you do. The breeze clears the air after a while but never soon enough.

We were lucky to have a trail following railroad tracks today for quite a while. As I think you know, most tracks are flat and so was the trail. For the first time off road we were able to make time speeding along at about 15 mph. Not fast by most riders stardards, but understand we need to be constantly looking for the mark of the Pilgrim's way. If you miss one, it can cause you to loose as much as an hour and sometime cause you to climb more then you needed.

We found a nice bar/cafe rest stop after about 25 miles. Lunch of pizza and beer. Filled the bottle cages with fresh bottles and headed on our way.

The rest of the afternoon was all up hill. just when we thought it was over, it would start up again. We stayed off road till the end with a 800 foot climb into town and then more uphill looking for the hotel.

The hotel is very nice. They were hosting about 40 hikers of retirement age. They looked tired but having a good time together.

As tough as the riding sounds, we really are having a good time. Our pace is slow because of following the mark and avoiding crashing the bike. We hop off and walk if there is any question.

Our ride Saturday, today, is over 60km with over 3,000 feet to climb, most of it in the first 30km. Our ride yesterday was over 65km, with just under 3,000 feet climb, in the hot sun and walking in the dust with rocks of all sizes, it takes an active imagination not to loose it. We start late and finish late, so we are sure to be out in the heat of the day. It's interesting how the day starts out cool and then by noon we can feel the heat rising and then viola we are the warrior riders in the sun. The unkown always makes our adventure pleasent and fun.

Meeting Pilgrims on the trail is always nice. We stop and chat when we can, making a nice rest stop to share stories of the road. Many people are as passionate as we are about the long trails, following the mark of the Pilgrim, visiting churches, eating the local fun and passing through the countryside that is only known to the locals. The locals see us and give us a big smile, point us along the road, make sure we are alright, the Italians are an open hearted people and we are grateful to them for their warm welcome and support.

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