Breakfast at Masseria Torre Coccaro is impressive! What a fantastic way to start a ride – a huge spread of cheeses and fruits, along with pastries and cured meats. And of course, no Backroads breakfast is complete without the morning cappuccino and glass of juice.
Today’s ride was going to test my legs, but I was ready for the challenge.
The sun was out, so I opted to wear my sun sleeves. They have proven to be an effective way to stay cool, meaning that the sun’s rays aren’t hitting the skin on my arms. The first 19 km are easy enough, and then we hit it – what Gérald and Pablo have coined The Wall of Pain. We are talking about a +13% grade. This is probably the steepest grade I have ever encountered, and I was actually wondering if there was any chance that me and my bike might flip over backwards. There were even moments where it felt like I wasn’t even moving forward, even though my legs were moving. That’s how steep it was. But we made it!
The treat at the top was a coffee shop serving up iced espresso, my new summer favourite drink. The views from this cafe were incredible and expansive, but the dark clouds blowing in made me a little nervous. Hubs and I quickly downed our drinks and got back on the saddle in an attempt to beat the rain.
We got lucky and we made it to our lunch spot in Ostuni, ‘La Città Bianca’ (The White City) before the rain started.
Not long after we reached Ostuni and found a place to eat (lunch was on our own today), the rain started.
Gérald has some of the best poses ever. I have no idea what he is doing in the photo below, but it sure as heck makes me laugh every time I look at this picture. The guys were just securing everyone’s bikes while we all wandered around the town.
We had already told Pablo and Gérald that we would likely ride after lunch, but as the rain started to come down harder, I wasn’t feeling as enthusiastic. Others were backing out of riding, but it looked like the rain was letting up, and the skies were blue in the direction that we were headed. Hubs was going to ride with or without me, and I am so attached to my hubs, so I said I’d ride. I think at least half the group got in the taxi-van that the leaders ordered.
I’m glad I opted to complete the final 34 km because I would have missed riding through the most serene olive grove with a bright blue sky overhead and the distinct olive aromas wafting through the air. It was dazzling!
How quickly the weather can change. Just as we were near the end of the olive grove, the winds picked up and big fat rain drops started to fall. It got dark. Juliette was in the van at the end of the road, parked across from us. Leaning out of her window, she asked us if we were ok to continue riding in the rain. We gave her the thumbs up and carried on. Apparently this is the time when some of the other riders called it a day and took the van back to the hotel. For me and hubs, this was the start of the “wash and dry”. We got wet. We didn’t have our rain gear, but the saving grace was that it was a warm rain, unlike the rain ride in Spain. Had I put on my rain jacket, I would have been sweating like crazy. I could even feel my socks were wet, but we persevered and didn’t stop. If anything, we probably pedaled harder. When we hit the coast, there was some wicked head winds. No rider enjoys head wind, but in these final 6 km, the strong winds completely dried us. I no longer had to worry about finding a stand to purchase a newspaper to stuff into my shoes. But was I ever exhausted! There wasn’t much time to rest as our leaders had an interesting evening planned for us and I didn’t want to miss it – wine tasting, pasta making, and a delicious dinner.