September 8: Praiano to Positano and Sorrento and Back 51 km

Breakfasts have become an indulgence in the art of pastry eating while rationalizing that biking burns all calories consumed before 9am each day. This morning's table was no exception. Tortes, rolls, cookies, more rolls, fresh bread, and of course, the more healthier substance -- eggs, yogurt and fruit graced the table in a colorful way. It is hard to not just "try" each one!!

Today's ride is a loop ride -- we will share the road with all the tourists who want to see the beautiful cliffs that appear to be falling gracefully into the sea with towns clinging so precariously to their edges. The road is the "Italian Coast Road" which has over the years been carved into the sides of the cliffs. In a car or bus one might refer to this venture as a "white knuckle" ride. On a bike it can be experienced with an entire different perceptive. Going only 10 mph or slower allows one to really take in each turn without the fear of going over the edge to the sea below.

The morning air was full of moisture and the surrounding hillsides blanketed in low hanging clouds and fog. A couple of the riders chose to retire to the art of shopping rather than brave the possible rain and definite inclines. The rest of the group packed rain gear and headed up out of town to the next stop 10kms down the coast: Positano. It is referred to as the "Romantic Village" on the Amalfi Coast.

The coastal road is two lane with the seas on one side and the cliff on the other. As it winds its way down the coastline the switchbacks and curves occur so frequently that one feels almost like you are dancing. First a sway to the left, then a sway to the right, then an little straight step forward, and then repeat -- sway left, sway right, straight -- and on and on. The only thing that keeps the rider in total reality is that almost the entire way it is weaving in and out among the cars, motorcycles and tour buses. It is amazing to see a big tour bus come around the corner and pass another bus going up the opposite direction and neither one hits the other. It is even more amazing to be in that same turn and have the bus driver give the rider space! Love the respect the Italian drivers have for bicyclists!!

The turnoff road to Positano seems to head over the edge and down the cliff. It is situated at a curve so traffic in both directions is slowed to a stop as the cars and buses attempt to make the turn. A bike just glides by. However, the road goes straight down with enough curves to force one to brake to prevent flying into someone's home accidentally. Several times the riders would stop to rest the hands after gripping the brakes for so long. Each km down forces the thoughts, however, that there will be an equal number of kilometers going back up and out of the valley.

The town itself is a favorite tourist stop for those from all over the world that visit the Amalfi Coast. It has a beach area which for most of this coastal area is unique. Shops line the narrow streets, most people are on foot, languages can be heard from all points of the world. A quick ride down and a investigation of the town center, then back up and out to the main coastal road for most of the group.

The breathtaking views on the coastal road are impossible to accurately describe. Each turn brings another vista. One might be of a lemon grove blanketing the side of the hill or maybe it is a view of Capri sitting out in the bay beckoning for one to visit. A town appears with buildings stacked on top of buildings rising out of the sea and engulfing the hillside. The road carries riders higher and higher allowing for greater and more beautiful views of the coastline. With very little natural beach areas the mountains seem to just spring out of the water. The weather colored the views with the low hanging clouds sliding in and out among the peaks. At times it seemed to give a halo to each mountain!

Sorrento is the largest town on the Amalfi Coast. Like Positano, it is a favorite of the tourists and therefore very congested. The ride into the old city was on narrow streets with heavy traffic, so a great deal of defensive driving had to be put into play. Everyone seems to be in a rush and know where they are going. It doesn't matter that their vehicle is bigger that the opening! However, once again -- the Italian drivers respect the bicyclist and give room. At times it was wiser to walk the bike rather than keep testing the patience of the Italian drivers, however.

With the breakfast pastries worn off it was Italian pizza time in Sorrento. Calories be forgotten!!

The route after lunch was to take the group up and away from the coast and then down the other side of the peninsula before returning to the coast road and back to the hotel again. For some of the riders this route worked well in that they were just ahead of the rain before starting up the mountainside. For another part of the group, the lunch break allowed the rain to catch them so busing back to the hotel rather than attempting the slippery wet roads down the mountainside was in order. In either case, the ride was excellent. Each pedal stroke was worth the time spent viewing the fabulous coastline.

Dario and Sylvia have given this group a present. The memories that each of us take from this trip are priceless. Their expert guidance throughout the time spent with us has allowed each of us to relax and take in our surroundings. Tonight we will say goodbye -- tomorrow we will be shuttled back to Naples and then on to the States. We may be physically leaving but a part of us will always be here!

Frankie Leaving Praiano

Cheryl Arriving in Positano

Frankie in the Center of Positano

Cheryl, Sue and Frankie after climbing out of Positano!

Frankie and Cheryl Resting

Positano in the Background

On The Way to Sorrento

Antonio Abbat in Sorrento

Happy Group in Sorrento