Friday, September 7, 2012

La Conquète de la Corse: Day 2



June 25, 2012: The Road to Porto

Modelling our 2012 Lost Boys jerseys, with Dave going for the Jan Ullrich look instead
According to our route notes, our second day of cycling in Corsica would actually be the easiest, with 1300 m of climbing over a mere 80 kms.  After a very modest breakfast (ah, France, where people are happy with a croissant and a coffee because they don’t need to ride anywhere), we assembled for the traditional Lost Boys group photo in our new jerseys. 

This time the motif featured the French national coat of arms on the front and on the sleeves the Moor, the rather mysterious symbol of Corsica.  Once again the jerseys looked great and made everyone easily identifiable from a distance, particularly with the bright green sleeves.  With the heat I was a bit concerned that the jerseys were predominantly black but this turned out to be the least of my problems during the trip.





The directions were straightforward as we would follow the coastal ride from Calvi, turn right at 32 kms, do a big climb and then head towards Porto and our hotel.  Easy.  And in fact it was superb, at the beginning at least.  Leaving the hotel, we were presented with a beautiful day and an amazing road, with gentle climbs and descents, along the coast.  With fine views over the blue water and a surprisingly traffic-free road we cruised southwards.  However, we soon enough discovered the reverse of the great roads of Corsica: the really terrible roads of Corsica, which Basile had mentioned during the morning briefing. 

For the next 15 kms we bounced our way through terrible potholes and craters and it was with considerable relief when we came to the little bridge at 32 kms where we did the required turn and took a short break.  A tour bus started to go down the road we had just struggled over but the driver quickly thought better of it and beat a hasty retreat. 



We began the 10 km climb to the top of the Col de Palmarella, 408 ASL.  After the usual triumphant summit photos, we began the long long descent of nearly 30 kms that brought us to a scenic spot for our daily picnic lunch.  The road was narrow and we were entertained while eating by watching a bus get stuck in a curve below and snarling traffic in both directions.  But soon enough that was cleared up, and we were back on the bikes for a fast and final descent that brought us past the Genoese tower and into the town of Porto.



Our charming hotel in Porto
Our hotel was the most attractive one we stayed in during our trip and had an excellent swimming pool to boot.  It was ostensibly air-conditioned but Dr. Chef and I learned immediately that it was not working in our room.  At least it was fairly cool.  I felt great on the ride although I was having issues with my shoes, proving the old cycling adage of never using new equipment on a big ride.  My plan to get shoes half a size larger than usual to avoid hot spots backfired completely as after only 20 kms or so my feet began to hurt.

Some local colour: the Moor with an AK-47
After checking in, Dr. Chef was exhausted but we did enjoy the pool for a while before going for a short walk to buy our favourite Magnum ice cream bars.  The little bar where we stopped only had imitation-Magnums but any port in a storm…

Dr. Chef, a'hurtin' after Day 2
We walked to the harbour and enjoyed another nice dinner, this time with a view over the water.  I was beginning to notice that Corsica is not very vegetarian-friendly as I was beginning to notice that the only thing without meat that seemed to be offered everywhere was pasta with Brocciu, a Corsican cheese that is considered the national dish.  Corsicans seem particularly fond of boar and other game.

Stevie-Z concentrating on the ladling of the soup
79.63 kms today with a mere 1410 meters of climbing.  This was an easy day, apparently.



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