September 5: Ascea

Another beautiful day in Italy -- the sun shining with not a cloud to be seen in any direction. Waking up in the peaceful countryside to the smell of freshly baked bread can guarantee anyone a wonderful start. The proprietress had a elegant buffet table laden with fresh tomatoes in olive oil on fresh peasant bread, cheese and sausage made on the premises, figs, pears, and peaches from their own trees, juices and yogurts -- what a life!

The route today is divided into two different ones to allow those who would like to go long may do so while those who wish to have a shorten version may also. The group separates into a third shortly after the discussion of each ride -- those who find the walk to the pool the longest they want to make today!!

Both group of riders leave by the same road which immediately tests the legs. With a vertical incline of about 12% it pulls up and out of the valley within only a few kilometers. Several change groups as the 4 km mark is met. The original long ride group now has become smaller as each push of the pedal brings the lactic acid to the forefront. But both groups move forward slowly up the roadway. At Santa Barbara the group bide farewell to each other and pick their respective routes. The shorter will be about 20 km's of hill workout while the longer about 70km. Each will have their beautiful components.

This writer chose the longer route only to rapidly change course after the first few kilometers of leg pounding hill charging. A shorter route was much more realistic after the climbing of yesterday. Leg fatigue had definitely set in.

Once the crest in Santa Barbara had be reached the road switched to a gentle climb up through the olive fields and forests twisting once again around the ridges in the mountainsides while providing beautiful vistas of the valley as the group rose higher and higher into the sky. The pedaling was not difficult so there was plenty of time to stop and take a picture or two as well as just be in awe of what one's eyes took in. Periodically along the side of the hillside would be a gentle flowing waterfall that originated high above in the mountain. A town or two were scattered along the way with homes with the old wooden window sashes and flower boxes full of brightly colored flowers. Local residents, mostly men, were quietly once again conversing together in front of one of the homes or shops. Peace was in the air. The weather was perfect, the mood was contentment, and the bicyclists were enjoying the vistas.

At one curve in the road an array of spigots were protruding out of the retaining wall, each supplying the local inhabitants with fresh clean mountain spring water. As we passes several men with large buckets were using the occasion to solve some more world problems while making their wives think they had gone to get the household water. Today is Sunday, so why do anything fast. The same was held true for the bicyclist -- there is no rush -- the mileage is short -- the route gentle -- like fresh bread when covered with fresh olive oil -- just soak it all in!!

The last few kilometers were the repeat of yesterday's downhill into our hotel. Again everyone took the way at their own speed. Back in time for lunch and time to nap at the pool. The longer group are having a picnic lunch in route and will be home in time for dinner.

A special treat tonight:: the proprietress is going to have a wine sampling and olive oil testing session for the entire group just before dinner. Everything eaten or drank on the premises is made here, so this experience can be nothing but enjoyable.






Closeup of Manor House

Another View!

Olive Orchard

Proprietor and Sylvia

Sylvia Examining the Wine!

"Yes, This Tastes Good!"