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to Lido di Metaponto
I cycled out of Alberobello there were more of the interesting trulli homes.
This part of the countryside is very rocky and the zillions of rocks have been
put to good use not only to build the trullis but to build stone fences around
the farmersí small fields. These are wide and low and sturdy. They are
beautifully made of all sizes and shapes of stones artfully stacked so that like
a puzzle there is a place for every piece. The edges of puzzles come out
straight, the tops and walls of the stone fences are straight and level. It must
take a trained eye to pick rock after rock that is exactly right in size and
shape. No mortar is used to hold the stones in place.
I pedaled I wondered whether stones keep working their way to the top of the
soil for eons, is the farmersí work never finished?
Some small fields were clear of stones while others were peppered with
them. In one field someone had worked hard to unearth all the stones, big and
little, that had been near the surface, they were laying there on the top of the
newly turned clumps of red soil looking for all the world like potatoes that had
been dug and now awaited collecting.
afternoon the fields had changed from small areas of pasture and olive trees to
vast wheat fields with not a stone anywhere to be seen. It was amazing. Suddenly
there were no more stones and the earth was grey, not red. I wondered at the
Checkpoint we were told that the campground had been changed, to look for
TK&A signs that would mark the turns.
I arrived at the campground it was clear that we had not been expected, people
were scurrying to clean away the winterís collection of leaves and debris from
the washrooms. There was a large building where dinner would be served and where
we could sit out of the cold. Dinner would be delayed an hour so I used the time
to work on e-mail. The hour came and passed and still there was no food. Some of
the hungry riders grew impatient and began shouting, demanding an explanation
from TK&A. That was ignored but it was announced that the first Odyssey
video by our film crew was nearly finished and we would be treated to a preview
momentarily. There was another long delay and people again began shouting that
they wanted food. Even after the 45 minute film was playing people shouted
during every lull in the action. It was ugly. I thought, if they are so hungry
and impatient let them go to their tents and have a snack of peanut butter and
cookies. Every rider always has a stash of snacks in his bike bags.
Finally nearly 3 hours after the scheduled dinner time and past our usual
bedtime, food began to appear. There were bowls of salad and platters of pasta,
but little on each so the food lasted only seconds. More bowls of salad and
platters of pasta appeared until eventually everyone had had a little of each.
People were still hungry and some, believing that that was all the food
there would be, left to go to their tents while others waited hopefully.
Eventually more food did begin to trickle in, pizza this time, one platter at a
time. Eventually enough pizza had appeared that everyone had had a piece, and
most folks left, some still hungry, belligerent and angry. Next platters of
chicken were set out and finally trays of fruit. In the end there was not only
plenty but far too much food. TK&A had not explained the delay and the
riders had not known that it is the custom in Italy to serve the meal in
courses. We are having a morale problem that is only growing worse. There are
many disgruntled riders and many issues that are not being addressed.
the countryside was varied and interesting this had not been an enjoyable day
for me. I had a severe sore throat and my ribs hurt from my fall two days
earlier. I decided that if I didnít feel better by morning I would sag.
di Metaponto to Scalea
did sag this day and unfortunately missed a beautiful ride and with a
difference. There were 17 tunnels! Near the end of the day there was an awesome
18 kilometer descent, lots of fun if you have good brakes. But I didnít even
get to enjoy the scenery from the van because I kept falling asleep. We saggers
were driven to the checkpoint and put out to wait until some time in the
afternoon when a ride to camp would be provided. Luckily there was a shop called
a bar and so we had a place to sit indoors out of the wind and cold. A bar in
Italy is not the same as a bar in America. Inside an Italian bar there is a long
high counter, a bar, and from behind that various kinds of refreshments are
served including alcoholic drinks as well as coffee, sandwiches, and cakes. In
the rest of the shop are displays of candy bars, potato chips, cookies, the
usual snack foods. It is not particularly pleasant to spend a day in a bar as it
seems that most Italians, just like the Greeks, think they have to smoke
eventually the day passed and we were told to get into a van for a ride to
Scalea where we would be staying in the Hotel Santa Caterina for two nights,
three to a room. We found the hotel to be a vast, empty, cold and deserted place
because it is not yet the tourist season. Eventually
though the heat did get turned on and we began to settle. I was the first one
into my assigned room and the first thing on my mind and most everyoneís mind
was laundry. It had been weeks since most of us had had an opportunity to wash
our clothes. We had had to wear the same cycling clothes day after day. We felt
and smelled grubby. The hotel offered a laundry service but it was expensive and
I had had bad experiences with hotel laundry services anyway. The town did not
have a laundromat. When I discovered that the room had a balcony with a drying
rack I decided to wash most of my things by hand and send the bigger items like
my rain jacket to the laundry. I had just about finished my washing when the
first of my two roommates, Judy of the killer bees, arrived. The hotel rooms
were small and it was obvious that three of us would overwhelm the space with
our stuff and bikes. More importantly, I felt sorry for my roommates as I knew I
would be coughing all night from my sore throat. I decided to try to get a room
of my own.
the laundry hung to drip I went to Reception to inquire about renting a single
room and then to the gear truck to get my tent and set it up so that it could
dry. While doing that I noticed that Dave, the mechanic, was open for business
but no one was there. My bike was still locked inside a large truck because I
had sagged but I was able to have the truck opened. This was an opportunity too
good to miss. I usually get in too late or itís too cold or rainy to go to the
mechanic. Dave went straight to work and had my bike fixed in no time. He
adjusted the brakes and replaced the chain with a new one for which I was
charged $30. My tent was nearly dry and I had been able to rent a single room.
This was turning out to be a good day afterall.
I moved my things and got settled in my new room I realized that it made me very
happy to have that little space all to myself. I decided then that when room
rates are reasonable I will treat myself to a room of my own.
was a very good thing that I was alone for not only did I cough all night but my
bruised and possibly cracked ribs caused me great pain every time I moved,
resulting in a lot of groaning and moaning.
is a popular summer resort area for Italians. Tens of thousands of vacationers
come to enjoy the sun and the sea. Our hotel was one of the big ones and right
on the beach but it was too cold for fun at the beach. There was an old town
that looked intriguing but I was struggling with a cold and not feeling up to
sightseeing. I did walk to the post office to mail a package home. Many other
riders were doing the same thing, completely overwhelming the system which is
archaic at best. The average wait in line was an hour and a half. Papers had to
be prepared, stamps stuck on using a brush and a pot of glue, then the stamps
had to be hand cancelled and so on. It surprised me that a country that is as
modern and fast paced as Italy could have such an inefficient postal system. I
hope my package makes it.
had been quite a walk to the post office and then with the long wait I was
running out of time. I had a little list I needed to accomplish before all the
shops closed at 1:00, not to open again until 4:00 or later, much like in Saudia
Arabia but I wasnít very successful. In the farmacia (farmacheeah) I was able
to get Ibuprofen but not sunscreen or hand lotion. They werenít available in
the profumeria either. Maybe Iíll find them in a food store. I bought a banana
from a fruit stand and a cappuchino and sweet cake in a gelateria. If you ask
for coffee you get about a thimbleful in a tiny cup.
was the end of my exploration of Scalea. Some people went for bike rides, some
cleaned their bikes, some went to the local bike shops. I ignored my bike,
spending my day on e-mail, laundry and blowing my nose. When I went to bed I
knew I would have to sag the next day.
have devised a variety of ways to make this trip enjoyable for themselves. One
group of 10 riders felt they needed an extra layover day, so they traveled by
train to Scalea from Lido di Metaponto and although they had to change trains 5
times to do it they still had fun and enjoyed an extra day of rest in Scalea.
One couple, Anne and Walter, have taken the train from Scalea to Pompeii in
order to gain 4 days of rest and have an opportunity to get well. Many people
have rented cars or vans with a partner or a small group and take turns driving
so that they can have more rest days and do more sightseeing. These people
sometimes follow the same route as the riders and take their meals with us, and
other times they go off route and follow their own itinerary. All these special
activities create extra expenses and are out of the question for some riders.
Other riders are happy enough with the Odyssey as it is and are content to do
the set itinerary. I fall into the last group.
to Marina di Camerota (Palinuro)
I sagged due to my sore throat, cold, and painful ribs and I missed a gorgeous
ride along the coast. In the sag vehicle with me was Jim Higbee and a nicer
fellow there never was. He is letting an injured knee heal. He hates sagging as
much as I and is impatient to ride again. But todayís sag was different and
even fun for awhile. We donít know why but Jim and I were told to get into a
staff car rather than the regular sag wagon. The volunteers driving were two of
the young massage therapists, Kim and Rachelle. They were upbeat and happy and
having fun. They stopped a couple of times to take pictures and pick flowers and
even waited while I bought strawberries at a fruit stand. This was sagging with
a difference. But it came to an end, we were put out at Checkpoint which was
just a wide spot in the road. Luck was with us though because it was a warm day
and there was a rock wall to sit on while we waited. We could chat with the
riders as they came in and we took a few pictures. To our great delight we were
picked up by the sag wagon earlier than is usual and taken to camp.
are staying at Campeggio Romano which is on the beach. We have pitched our tents
in a grove of olive trees where birds are cheerfully singing. Under our tents
and feet is a beautiful carpet of grass and little white daisies. There is a lot
of laughter in the air as everyone gets settled. The day was just right, only 81
kilometers, very do-able with a nice mix of up and down hills, spectacular
scenery, good weather, and several picturesque villages enroute where riders
could stop for pizza, gelato, and caffe. It was a perfect cycling day.
will be served in 3 different restaurants in town which is about a kilometerís
walk away along the beach. I signed the list for Tratteria Valentone, the
closest one. It is time to go.
Cape Point - Ostriches are the grazing in the picture on the left
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