Back by popular demand, and for one post only – here goes with the promised ‘Welcome Home’ summary of our adventures in Italy.
It’s almost 3 months now since we got back, and for the most part, our bikes have been resting.
Hats off to Andy for riding from Chesterfield to Skegness and back in August – I think he got a little lost en route and ended up cycling further than he needed – something about riding off ahead – sound familiar?
So far Mark and I have only managed a tootle to the reservoir for a picnic. Given that we run up there most weeks, I won’t pretend to call it a ride, more like a stretch!
With Mark and Ian about to cycle part of the Tour de France (Yorkshire) route at the weekend, now seems to be a good opportunity to reflect on our amazing trip. I have just been flicking back through the blog. I have to say that I have enjoyed reading it back as much as you guys all appear to have enjoyed reading it while we were there. It’s a diary of the trip, which I will look back on long after the memories fade. And talking of fading, the tan lines, which were the subject of much mocking when we got back, are only just visible now, on my hands at least – I still have white ‘shorts’.
We celebrated our finishing night at a fabulous Mexican restaurant in Catania. I think it was particularly welcome simply for not being more Italian food. I never thought it would be possible to eat too much pizza and pasta, but everyone has a fill line, and I certainly found mine. When we arrived at the restaurant, the area around our final apartment was experiencing a power cut. With the offer of margaritas and a supply of corn chips to munch on while we waited for the electricity (and a restaurant with a pizza oven next door, just in case) we were more than happy to perch at a table outside.
The evening was one of those unplanned occasions that turns out to be fantastic. With Tequila flowing, the power returning, delicious food, new found friends…
…and sombreros (from who knows where), we were properly able to let our hair down, safe in the knowledge that the legs would not be needed for cycling in the morning.
It may not come as much of a surprise that we decided against cycling up Etna. It would have been possible but it was so far from where we were staying that it would have taken all day to get there. It may come as less of a surprise, that not all of us made it to the volcano. Actually, Tequila was not to blame – Andy, Ian and Christine decided they would sight see round Catania instead of getting up early for the tour.
When Mark and I got back, having experienced amazing scenery and an informative trip, the guys were sprawled out in the apartment. Apparently they had made it out for lunch and a wander round the fish market, but that’s about all.
We whiled away the rest of the afternoon in Catania’s town square, watching the world go by (and when I say the world – everyone we had met in Catania passed us and stopped to say Hello), sipping coffee, and of course, prosecco.
Our last evening wasn’t much to speak of, maybe not surprising after the events of the night before. In summary – what goes on tour, stays on tour!
Christine had the first flight home so Mark cycled with her to the airport on Sunday morning. The Italian check-in staff were much less obliging than they had been in Manchester and wanted us to take the pedals, front wheels, and handlebars off our bikes. With calls back from Mark for more tape to seal the bike bags, and at one point, an urgent request to try and locate more tools after the cleaner had done his job a little too thoroughly, Ian, Andy and I were not long after in setting off for our final ride. Luckily, the one shop that was open on Sunday morning sold tape, and Mark had managed to locate said cleaner and recover his tools. Cunningly turning our handlebars ended up being enough to persuade the check-in lady to take our bikes without removing them (for all the space that would have saved) but she did have to come round the desk to make sure that we had actually taken the wheels and pedals off – she had evidently never ridden a bike.
With an easy flight and just enough space in a black cab for our bikes when we were down to just 2…
…we made it home – for a rest.
So, to summarise
3000 feet high
1000 miles travelled
841 miles ridden
96 miles – longest day
47 degrees hot
…canine incidents, haribo, gelato, beer and prosecco – too many to count,
and finally, a song to sum up the experience – Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb”. You will have to trust me on this. Listen carefully to the words and you will understand.
For those reading on my new blog, click on the link to ‘Other Adventures’ at the top of this page and read about our whole adventure: Cycling Italy, Venice to Sicily – Another blog of 1000 miles.