Friday 8 December 2017

Corsica's finger Tour

A travel story of Skeletor

Unexpected things are always the best. Alfio and Antonello, friends of my wife propose a weekend with mini cruise in Corsica, we are in autumn, the ferries have few reservations and for several years a group of motorcyclists organizes weekends on the island.

In the low season you can also book a few days in advance, so as you can check the weather forecast. Friday night we are having a pizza all together and for the first time my wife asks me: "Do you want to ride in Corsica for the weekend? I can follow you driving the car". I wonder why I heard correctly, after a moment of stunning, not too long (I know it could be rethought) I nod with decision, it is the first time I hear from her lips a proposal about cycling! It is done, we contact the agency, we book 2 cabins; the program includes departure from Vado Ligure at 21, landing at 7 on Saturday in Bastia, the whole day free and re-embark at 20 in the evening, return to Vado Sunday morning at 8; cabin, dinners and breakfasts reserved for the group.

Friday the weather is good, at most a few clouds, we arrive in Savona abundantly in advance, so Alfio (the biker friend of the bicycle), introduces us the group of bikers, some of them will go around to Bonifacio, others will ride in the mountains. For us instead Tom-Tom-Alfio has programmed the turn of the finger counterclockwise, to be evaluated on the moment according to the direction of the winds; he has meticulously prepared a road-map and explains the track already done by bike that hopes to be able to finish seeing that this year has traveled by bike no more than 60-70 km per single exit, is worried about the last Km, to go back to Bastia you have to pass a hill of 500 but to do after a ride of more than 100 km. Let's start. We have dinner in one of the self service that has been dedicated to us with a decent dinner and Skeletor (the post author) leaves the traveling companions amazed by his eating qualities (already expressed in "A jump in Sardinia"). We can go to sleep, the sea can not be heard and the night goes by. Wake up at 6, abundant breakfast, we land at 7 still in the dark, the sky is clear, there are 16 degrees, there is no wind and begins to lighten: it will certainly be a nice day.

We park immediately outside the port and prepare the bikes while it is dawning, we see the arrival of the cyclists, after a quarter it seems almost to be a cycling event, involuntarily we are in the middle of the meeting place of the Corsican riders. After some ritual photos we leave for our adventure and as scheduled fingertip with anti-clockwise path on the D80, my wife Grazia (the driver of the team car) decides to take a ride in the center of Bastia. The choice of this itinerary has its own because: we have the sun on the sea and the driving side adjacent to the coast. The road is in perfect condition (as we can see that we are not in Italy) it looks like a velvet, the coast rises and falls gently.

Our trio pedal regularly, even Antonello I see him very well, a true warrior without a homeland and without sword with one foot in the past and looking straight to the future. The road runs gently, gradually reach us and exceed the groups of cyclists we met in Bastia, we are no in hurry and every glimpse is perfect for a photo.

Grazia reaches us and overtake us, we find herat the port of Macinaggio and after other ritual photos we try to meet all of us in Centuri, the first town after the summit of the finger. From here the road turns inland and begins to climb, but it is nothing compared to what awaits us in the afternoon, Alfio already from the early morning thinks of his Moloch, the Colle De Teghime placed at 536 m above sea level (our top most climb) which we will find at the end of the tour. 

We meet few cars and all of them before overtaking are waiting to have ample visibility (as we can see that we are not in Italy), indeed to encourage them we make a sign with the arm forward (unbelievable, they even thank us too!). Arrived shortly after Rogliano we find the signs for a belvedere that we reach after a few hundred meters on a cobblestone path. 

There is a splendid view of the sea and the Giraglia island, famous for having given its name to one of the oldest Mediterranean regattas from Saint Tropez to Genoa on a 243-mile course.
We continue and finally we arrive at the Colle de la Serra, the first peak at 360 m above sea level, not far from Corso is the Moulin Mattei, a Dutch style mill, renovated by a winery to advertise its most famous aperitif. We skip it and decide not to go down to Centuri (over 200m in altitude that then we should go back on a road not really easy). Alfio reminds us of his Moloch, Grazia tried to get off the town and almost got stuck in her narrow streets. Oh well, the famous lobsters of Centuri will taste next time.

With the team car we decide to meet near Pino, Grazia goes looking for a beach where to sunbathe. The road continues with the usual "eat-and-drink" (it is an italian cyclist idiom to say continously up and down) degrading to sea level, in Alisu we coast a beautiful beach but Grazia has gone further, she warns us to stop on a black beach named Plage d'Albo which we find after passing an old industrial building abandoned for many years.

Wiki-Tom-Tom-Alfio takes care to inform us of the history of the Canary asbestos factory that until the early 60s extracted and worked the ore throwing the scraps of rock in the sea in front, the currents then spread the debris on the adjacent beaches changing the chromatic connotations of asbestos there is no trace, but this color remains that makes them special and unique.

In the distance I see a team car parked under the last houses of Albo, just at the edge of the beach, from the crowded I should not have trouble finding Grazia, there are 3 groups of people on a beach of at least 800 m, the only person single in the middle: it's her. Here the stop is a must, I brought swimsuit and swimming goggles, I throw myself into the sea and with pleasure I find the water not at all cold, the view is spectacular, the depth increases quickly and at about 600 m from the shore the seabed is already over 40-50 m, the sea is crystal clear, swimming towards the promontory to the south, the semi-resinous white rocks contrast with the fish and the dark seabed, beautiful!
Antonello and Alfio went in search of a place to eat, in fact it more than 1 pm and the hunger is felt. Today I feel like in a stage race, any problem is immediately resolved by the team car: Grazia had prepared me a sandwich and a fruit.

I get dressed and start to reach the group on the run, after a few kilometers I find them in Nonza, they are accommodated under a pergola mixed with flowers and leaves faded from autumn (photo), they have almost finished a plate of cold meats Corsi, meanwhile arrives also Grazia and we sip together a more than decent coffee in consideration of the rather poor average quality of Franch coffe (at least from italian point of view).

We traveled about 88 km, it's early, and I try to propose to extend the tour to Saint Florent, but Alfio thinks more and more intensely at his Moloch at 536 m in height, lengthening the 10 km lap could be fatal. Continue for another 15 km and arrived near Patrimonio we find the roundabout with the turning towards the Moloch, nothing to do, Wiki-Tom-tom in front of the sign Saint Florent Km 4.5 remains unmovable, mentally is already focused towards the hill.

Grazia, who preceded us, went to the marina, so I decided to extend our trip alone, Antonello, a trusted gregarious, sticks to his captain. In the downhill straight that leads to the village on the sea I hurtled by a noisy car, then the same scene is repeated several times and I understand that there is a rallie on those roads.

Arrived in Saint Florent I find myself in the middle of the rally cars, I prefer to deflect and made the rounds of the port back on my feet (oops, pedals) I try to reach the 2 fugitives, round trip I lost about 25 minutes, I think it will be difficult achieve them. The ascent to Col De Teghime is 8.2 km with an average gradient of 6%, I take it pretty cheerful but I realize immediately that here the slopes are very different from those found so far, between Patrimonio and Barbaggio I find a wall of 500 m to 14%, then to about 3 km from the summit another 1000 m to 12%.

I realize I'm in reserve, in fact I cycled for about 100 km and I put too little fuel in the engine, the breakfast even if abundant I burned it for a while, the sandwich and the fruit were scarce, so now I pay gage. Behind a hairpin I start to see cars parked, I hear the engine noise, we are at the end of a special and providential test I see a van bar on which I get to drink a can of Cola, finally turns off the spy of the reserve. Meeting the two fugitives, also refreshed and, after a snoop in the middle of the tussle of cars, drivers and the public, we leave. At this point I am worried about the Moloch, I see the top of it and my legs are like ricotta. Wiki-Tom-Tom and Warrior without Homeland and without Sword are pretty quiet, I notice after 500 m, we are at the top but I am so mad thinking of having to reach the top, while the road get flat on the right. On the hill are rising clouds of condensation rising from the eastern side of the island and we find our team car parked, unfortunate not to be found a little lower, Grace would have waited less and we would have helped in the variant with cars.

We throw ourselves downhill with some news: colder air, humid and shortly after even the fog. A sign warns us of the interruption of the road, but fortunately will be operational only from the following days, we can direct our wheels directly towards Bastia and after 130 km we enter the town. It is 17 pm and downtown is invaded by cars, arrived at the port it's up to us to wait for the team car swallowed by traffic, while Alfio and Antonello change I'm going to look for a parking lot, I put myself behind two girls who load the trunk after shopping, in the meantime Grazia arrives. To round off, let's toast our tour with a refreshing beer, at the bar Alfio's friends arrive, who had a ride to the Mouths of Bonifacio. Waiting to go back to the ship we take a walk in the historic center where we buy cured meats and cheeses. it's time to go back to the ship, now in the dark we get in line to the cars and motorbikes, after a nice shower we have dinner waiting for us. The next morning the alarm is in Savona, but that's another story, Corsica ends here.

The route on

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