Roma to Gallese Teverina 82km
To Pianlungo 76km
To Ronzano 79km
For the last two months I've been cycling in temperatures between 10°C and -10°C. The first day that Juliet cycles with me in Italy, it is 25°C. She really is a "ray of sunshine". Not only is it warmer, but there are trees in blossom. Now that's got to be a good sign. But we forgot what else Spring weather is known for, rain.
After camping on the edge of a cycle track, next to a river, on night one, we continued along beside the river, and them on to narrow country roads. We have been invited to stay with Penny, Elsie and Bill, in a villa, Tuscan Sun Villa, about 150km up country, and especially for dinner on Friday night, so we've sat down and planned a route that keeps us away from motorways and other busy roads, and we're on a mission to get there on time. The route follows cycle paths, narrow country roads, and the occasional "black dashed trail", which I had experienced in Croatia. These ones look reasonably flat and straight.
All is going well. It's fun navigating, the scenery is really pleasant. There's very little traffic. Okay, it's raining off and on. That's no problem. We've got the right gear. We turn on to the first "black dashed trail". It's lovely. Crossing through farmers fields, close to rural buildings and houses. We greet locals working in fields and orchards. Juliet is happy...."this is nice. I just didn't want to be riding on muddy wet single track...." BOOM. We turn a corner to find a wet, rutted, muddy, slippery hill..... Oh Bother. Within seconds Fiona's brand new tyre treads are clogged with mud. Juliet's much meatier treads are also clogged. We are slipping, and sliding uphill. There is totally no traction, and are off the bikes and pushing. "I sure this won't last long....." (that was me) "or get much worse..." Ju reckons it was at least 5km, I reckon maybe 2km. And it did get worse. The ruts got deeper and wider, the mud thicker and more slippery, and it didn't help that some idiot had driven his tractor through the trail earlier that morning....... The saving grace, was the knee deep river we had to wade through, to get to the gravel road at the end, which washed enough mud of the tyres that they were able to rotate.(Did I tell you how much I love my wife. She hardly complained.....)
Okay. Plan change. We are NOT going to cycle anymore "black dashed trails". Ju is a little despondent. We've taken three hours to cycle less than 20km. She really wants to join the Crokers for the meal tomorrow night. The roads are still narrow, and wind across country, but they are hilly, and we are both weary. Pizza in a small village helps. Eventually we get to another village that we hope might have a hotel. Its raining heavily, with some hail. We are both very muddy, and a warm shower seems like a fantastic idea. No luck. The nearest accommodation is 3km in the wrong direction, or 7km up a hill. We cycle on.
Following our route are two railway lines. On our left is the local line, with "slow" trains that stop at every station. On our right is the "fast " train line. Every five minutes a "Bullet train" screams past us. We're told the are travelling close to 250kph. We find a campsite. It's a little exposed, and close to a road, but the road is very quiet. It's about 200m from the "Fast Train" track. They are not quiet. But it's raining, and the sound of the rain on the tent, almost, no.. somewhat, no.. muffles, nope.... Every five minutes until late at night, a Bullet train roars through our tent. Luckily, we are both very tired.
Day three out of Rome, and the route to Tuscan Sun Villa follows along quiet country roads beside a canal, after 15km of gravel uphill, and a really cool hilltop village, where we had great hot chocolate and pizza. Then, after finally some fun downhill we follow a cycle route, also along the canal. Initially it's really lovely, pleasant cycling, but the further along the trail we go, the less it has been used. The trail gets thinner, and the surface softer, and it's hard going, even though it's flat. A huge storm is approaching, and we are both tired. We decide to get off the cycle trail and back onto the road....... oh bliss. The bikes are still caked in mud, but it seems so much easier. 10km later, we are climbing the last hill to Tuscan Sun Villa. We've beaten the storm.
The Crokers are not back from their sightseeing, but that gives us a chance to "declog" the bikes, and wash our panniers, under an outside shower. Then it was hot showers, and a wonderful meal, cooked by two chefs, who came to Tuscan Sun Villa especially to prepare the meal for us. I reckon we've earned a little bit of luxury......and it's fantastic to be sharing it with friends, but will I get Juliet back on her bike?