We packed up Wednesday morning and gathered outside our hotel on the stone streets of Ovieto. Today our destination was Spoleto, an old hill town at the edge of the Apennine Mountains. Mike (Andiamo) revised the route slightly, adding 15 km so that we could take a road that was “so beautiful!” that it was worth the extra mileage.
After a quick descent out of Orvieto, we climbed for the better part of 15 miles toward the town of Todi. Todi is a vibrant town with an old center city and new buldings clustered against it. We rode into the “Centro” to have a look at Piazza di Popolo, which struck us as ho-hum as far as hill towns go (we’re getting either very discriminating or just jaded by now), and headed on toward a promised picnic lunch.
Mike’s “so beautiful” road lay between us and the picnic. We found a narrow winding country lane that wrapped itself like cellophane on the natural topography. That natural topography happened to be steep hills, many barely climbable on a road bike, and the pavement was as rough and corroded as Belgian cobblestones. Mike knows cyclists, and we had to admit to its beauty—it was breath-taking, every damned 16% ramp of it, of which there were about 6. Poor Bill R.’s Texas gearing (39/25) met it’s match on the 21% ramp and despite his considerable leg strength, he became unhorsed. Howie was too polite to take a picture. Only pride kept the rest of us on our bikes.
We were all hungry and feeling a little chapped by the time we finally made the lunch spot–after finding smoother road and another 5 km climb. It was 2 PM and we had climbed 5,500 feet since leaving Orvieto.
Within an hour, food, shade, camaraderie and Nel’s sure organizational touch revived us and we were ready for the day’s final 20 miles. A south wind had been building all morning and now was a steady 15-20 mph with 25 mph gusts, and our predominant direction to Spoleto was……south. We normally ride in casual groupings, solo or twosomes or foursomes, whatever pace currently fits one’s mood, but the wind forced discipline on us and we doggedly made our way to our destination in pacelines of three or four riders each.
Ride distance: 67 mi.
Vert.: 6,700, 6900, and 7000 ft (Jim, Markham, Reb’s on-bike Garmins);
6,250 biketoaster.com, 9,800 ridewithgps.com