September 6: Ascea to Paestum 75 kms -- highest elevation = 798 meters

After another wonderful buffet spread of fresh ingredients - fruit, bread, cheese, sausage, tortes, juice, yogurt, and of course that wonderful Italian coffee, the group was ready to ride! This morning the first 4 kms were going to be a repeat of that vertical climb that we all experienced yesterday in one form of biking or another. Sometimes it is better to use the feet on the ground rather than on the pedal. When the speed of the bike drops below what walking speed is, then it is time to dismount and stretch the Achilles Tendon with that "push the bike up the hill" form!! Once in Santa Barbara it was off and pedal time!

Nature has once again blessed us with the perfect day. The sun is slowly coming over the mountain ridge as the group sets out on the day's adventure. Today would find the route weaving through the countryside as it moves slowly up through the mountain peaks in the Cilenta National Park. Starting at approximately 60 m above sea level the way climbed up and out of the valley like a snake slithering in the grass. Each turn brought another vista that took the breath away. Far in the distance one could see the next town's buildings stacked one on top to the other as they hung from the cliff's edge. It appeared many times as if the towns were just blankets covering the side of the mountain as if to protect it. Ceraso, then on to Vallo della Lucania and San Biase and Massa -- each small villages perched on the side of the hillside offering their own personality.

Higher and higher the group pedaled. The road surface was newly paved and the grade gentle so effortless pedaling was the norm. Grape vines full of grapes bordered the roadway as did the beautiful olives trees with the new olives just beginning to appear. Flowers graced the side also offering an array of color as one pedaled along with no care in the world. Each pedal stroke brought one a little higher and the view became a little more spectacular. Far below one could see the coast line, but it became smaller and smaller as the miles passed. Then the vegetation changed. The forests became thicker not allowing one to see more than a few feet into the interior. Each tree was full of green leaves, each fern in full fan, each bush in full bloom. The scents of forests penetrated the nostrils as one pedaled by. Pure bliss!!

The gentle klang of cow bells could be heard for miles. An occasional goat would appear as would a dog, but none to fear. But then around the bend just outside of the small town of Capizza the klanging of the bells became loud enough to alert one that something might be near. There he was -- an Italian goater with his goats allowing them to feed on the ivy that was growing up on the light poles!! A step back in time!!

About 40 kms into the ride the perfect picnic spot was found. Sylvia quickly put together a gourmet meal of salad, fruit, cheese and nuts. High on a ridge overlooking the valley below the group rested and soaked in the surroundings as well as the food and drink!! Bella!! So good was the lunch stop that a rainbow formed around the sun as if to welcome the riders to the peak of the mountain. The climb was basically over for the day -- 40 kms up and 35 kms down!! The order of events was perfect!!

After lunch it is a dream ride. All one has to do is sit and enjoy the views that appear at each bend of the road. The grade was gentle enough to just coast and enjoy. At 798 meters high the vistas are spectacular. One mountain kisses another to create a valley or two with orchards, towns, and fields gracing the surfaces. Far below one can see the highway twist and turn as it works its way back down to the sea. Panoramic enjoyment does not come close to describing what one sees as one coasts at a controllable speed to the valley below.

The town of Cafasso sits about half way to the valley floor. The route takes the group through the center of the old section with its decorative doorways, flower boxes and cobblestone streets. It was a step into the past and only a few meters from the main highway to Paestum!

Tonight the group is at a hotel just outside of Paestum, the home of a large Roman ruin. The agenda for tomorrow includes a tour of the famous historical site. But for tonight is it a full dinner at 8pm at the hotel and then off to sleep!!


Goat Herder and Friends!

Up We Go!

Sue & Sharon

Almost There!

You Can Do It!!

Thanks, Sylvia for a Picnic on the Top!!!

Even a Rainbow

Our Sag

It is all Downhill from Here!!

Sea Level in Sight!!