May 6: The Road to Sovana: 58 kms

An early morning shower welcomed the day chilling the air slightly and giving forecast of what might come as the day progressed. The clouds played tag across the sky teasing the group with thoughts of clear weather for the first day. Rain gear was packed just in case, but all went off to breakfast confident that the day's ride would be perfect. But first -- bikes had to be fitted, personal saddles installed, pedals put on and that first nervous ride around the square to get use to the new bike had to be done. The energy vibes were on high as Dario went through the instructions and explained the route. If lost or confused just return to the last place you know you were on the route and stay there -- or call Dario. Simple and to the point. The route maps were distributed, read through and off to the bikes. Paolo's turn to ride as sweep and Dario's to drive the van. All systems go! One right, then left, down the hill and through the city gate. Right again and then straight for several kms. Simple!!!

The group made the first turn -- actually did pretty good with the left -- it was the "down the hill" that was missed. "Up" an incline the group went with Paolo yelling "Friends, oh friends -- wrong way". A quick regrouping and back on course. Now outside the city limits the road went from cobblestone to pavement, so was easier to maneuver. So easy that the right out of the gate was mastered by all like pros! It was the straight for several kms that confused two -- they turned left at the first intersection and disappeared out of sight down a steep hill. The rest thought better and Paolo was now riding as fast as he could to catch them yelling "Wait". Fortunately the road was a loop and came out on the main route a few kms later and all was well. The other three proud of their directional skills headed off down the road confident that they had done it right! Wrong!!! 6 kms later Dario appears with the van to let the three know that they are now in need of riding in the van back to a turnoff because of being so far off course. By this time the group was only less than 10 kms into a 58 km day!!!

Laughing and joking about how talented the group was on this first day became the theme of today's ride. Five highly intelligent women, all educated and experienced bikers can't get out of a small medieval city without major guidance!! The two men just smiled and kept telling each of us to enjoy the ride!!

Rain started about an hour into the ride, fortunately after everyone was back on course. The wind had to enter into the fracas just to make this first day a memorable experience. And the terrain wanted to play too! A steady climb twisting and turning as it made its way out of the valley and up the hillside allowed for beautiful vistas. The shrubs along the roadside are all in bloom giving off a sweet fragrance that lulls the brain as one pedals by. The poppies set the fields unfire with their radiant red color. As each pedal stroke brought on another gasp from the lungs, the mind tries desperately to play tricks in order to convince oneself that the climb isn't really very hard. With the head tucked in to shield from the rain, body covered in rain gear in hopes of staying somewhat dry and warm, each rider tackled the hill with their own special skills. All make it to the top!!! Some later than others, but it doesn't matter. Everyone mastered that first day's climb and now gets rewarded with a great lunch prepared by Dario and Paolo inside someone restaurant. Yes, we just took over tables and brought in the picnic that was suppose to be celebrated outside. The proprietor was very nice and accommodating. The special treat of the lunch was Paolo's entertainment. He is an accomplished musician, trumpeter to be exact and played for us as we watched the rain steadily continue to fall.

After lunch, Paolo and Jackie M. decided to continue riding -- the rest were still cold from the earlier rain and chose to van it to the hotel. And what a hotel! Hotel Sovana is located in the small town of Sovana in a restored ancient country house. It is magnificent. Beautiful stone walls greet you as you enter. Our home for the next two nights!

"Wonder Where the Rest Are. At Least WE are on the Right Course."

"Okay, So One Small Wrong Turn. Take My Bike!"

Dario: "Paolo, How Did You Lost All Five??"

Paolo: "Kathleen, Got it Fixed!"

"Yea, I Found You!!"


Lisa: "That was Some Hill!"


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