Post 2 - 2015 Biking Adventure

5th May 2015

The past 2 days have been a real roller coaster. After two very pleasant days in Orte (Lazio), we packed the bike bags into our host Alberto’s car and he drove with Sunita while I navigated the bike down the mountain on a steep loose gravel and dirt drive way. Didn’t make it. Two hundred meters down the chain slipped off and after a grease filled look-see at the gear mechanism I decided that despite my best packaging efforts it had been bashed in transit from Tel Aviv - two airplane rides and a train trip.

Going down the steep hill on the dirt road I also realised that our tandem was definitely NOT an off road vehicle.

Off we went to the local bike expert in Orte, and twenty minutes later he declared it good as new. Alberto had declared the expert to be the ‘most professional’ in town so we bid goodbye to Alberto and the bike expert off we went alone at last.

By the time we had ridden 10 kilometres we realised the ‘expert’s’ work was perhaps not so great. To be sure the bike was likely the only one of its kind in Italy so we were in a forgiving mood. We could still ride despite the slippage in the gears so we decided to continue and find another bike mechanic en route.

Enjoying the scenery we passed a dark-skinned lady sitting on a plastic chair by the side of the road, then another, then a third all spaced about 500 meters apart. At first I thought they were waiting on a bus but then I noticed the third one trying to flag down a car. She also seemed to be oddly dressed. Then it dawned on us that these ladies were in fact prostitutes, plying their trade the hilly terrain of Lazio, amid olive trees and vineyards.

Even new houses seem old in these hills. Tiles already with moss on them are sold in construction supply outlets. The masonry walls have a timeless feel to them, with repairs to many of the homes layered upon each other going back centuries.

The olive trees rival those in the Holy Land with some being easily a thousand years old. I spent a bit of time examining the pruning methods of both the olive trees and grape vines. Exacting methods are used to maximise the quality of the fruit while minimising the volume of the yield. Quite an art.

We enter Umbria

After a wifi break in Penna In Teverina we took the advice of a local and set off on a road that turned out to be a 10 or 15 kilometre detour from our intended route. Full half the distance was an incredibly long steep hill up which we mostly walked. Of course what goes up must go down, so we were treated to an amazing ride down to the valley of the River Tiber. By the time we reached Attigliano at the foot of the hill, we resolved to camp soon, albeit a little short of our intended distance for the day.

So another 10 kilometres took is to the village of Stazione di Alvin where a nice lady gave us completely wrong directions to the lake, resulting in another unwanted detour of several km. However we did find a spot for illegal ‘guerrilla camping’ at the edge of a nature reserve. We fell asleep to the mating sounds of local frogs.

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