Tuesday, September 24, 2013 (Day 14)
Bike Day 7 Itinerary:
Bike from Cortona to Montone
weather: Sunny, slight breeze, 70 degrees in the morning, 82 degrees as the high
– 8a wake up, pack and breakfast
– 9a luggage downstairs, walk to get a cannoli
– 9:30a depart Hotel Italia in Cortona
– grocery stop and park stop for lunch
-2:50p arrive at Hotel Fortebracchio in Montone
– relax by the hotel pool
– Dinner at Fortebracchio
Total Distance: 51.2km = 31.8 miles
Max Speed: 41.5kph = 25.8 mph
Moving Time: 3hours 13minutes
Today’s written guided instructions promised us a challenging and epic ride today from Cortona to Montone. It also promised us a rather long climb up out of Cortona before we could go down into the Umbria valley below and then on to Montone. So, with that in mind, we got out a little bit earlier than normal today.
We were up between 7:30a and 8a and had a good breakfast in the hotel up on the 4th floor and with a great view of the valley below Cortona. Too bad we missed breakfast here yesterday. Then, we went for a walk to the nearby pasticceria to get some mini cannolis. Finally, we were ready to leave the hotel around 9:30am. We walked our bikes up and out of the middle of town and past the big porta in the city walls to get out of town. Now, we hopped on the bikes and climbed, and climbed, and climbed.
However, it was a rather gentle grade, even though it was all a positive grade. So, the climbing really wasn’t so hard…just long. Two other couples today biked the same route we did and are staying in the same hotel we are in tonight, so we kept leap-frogging each other on the road as we all made the tough climb of about 450 meters. This was the challenging part of the day…and after several days of biking the rolling hills in Tuscany…it is not really so bad.
I think the epic part was now the fall back down the other side of the mountain where we dropped about 500-600 meters right away. It was thrilling coming down and we were so happy that the asphalt was back to being smooth again and also that this road had very little car traffic. We barely saw any cars pass us this morning. We had to stop once or twice for some photos and also just to give our braking muscles a break. =)
Now at the bottom of our descent, we realized that we were really not too far away from our destination. What this morning seemed so far away, was basically around the corner of some flat biking. We ended up in the middle of a bunch of tobacco fields. We had to look up what we were looking at to know what kind of fields we were biking through because the plants were tall with huge leaves, and the fields were massive. Also, it was harvest time and we enjoyed watching the special harvesting machines. However, we couldn’t figure out what kind of a crop this was. We were a little disappointed to learn that it was a tobacco crop and the area is just covered in tobacco fields. The large leaves are a yellow-green and are quite pretty on the landscape.
We biked from tiny town to tiny town and then finally found one large enough to have a Coop grocery store for some lunch food. We grabbed some food, and put it all in my little travel backpack. This was one of my best ideas yet! You know those cheap-cheap backpacks they give away at events that have a drawstring at the top that turns the bag into a backpack? We get one every year for the MS150 and my house is overflowing with these bags. Well, they are super small and light folded up, so I brought one along to stuff in my bike bag if we ever needed to carry anything that wouldn’t fit in the bike bags. It works great for carrying the groceries a few kilometers away to a picnic spot for lunch.
We were starting to doubt that we’d find a picnic spot when all of a sudden we came across a little public park with a merry-go-round, a slide, and some benches. We took a bench, and with our backs to the warm Umbria sun, we had a great picnic lunch. As we sat we watched the other two couples on our route bike on by and we saw that we were only about 8km from our destination. Well, we are still glad we went ahead and had lunch here. It was really calm, peaceful and a great stop.
After lunch we hopped back on the bikes and biked the remaining kilometers in to Montone, which of course resides up on a hill that we had to climb. Luckily the road had many switchbacks keeping the grade nice and easy while we climbed and climbed and climbed again. The road was really pretty to bike on and we enjoyed our ride.
Montone is a rather small town, and our hotel came up before we really entered the town center, if there is much of one. The hotel does have dinner here, so our plan for the afternoon is to lounge by the pool, and then have dinner here.
We arrived at the hotel about 2:50p, did a load of laundry, and then went down to the pool. The pool water was absolutely frigid! I think it was colder than the last pool we were at in Buonconvento. But, we went in, froze, and then came back out to lounge in the nice warm sun. It was so nice to sit in the sun and the lounge chairs by the pool had something we’d never seen before. (We don’t do much of any lounging by pools, by the way.) The chairs had sunshades that went over your head from the top of the chair so we could keep the sun out of our eyes, but still stay warm with our bodies in the sun. We sat out here and read, I blogged, and we were pretty much out here until the shade came and it started to get chilly. It was fabulously relaxing, though.
Then it was inside to shower and do several loads of laundry because we did have a little balcony off our room and I figured all the clothes would dry outside overnight and in the sun this afternoon.
It turned out that it was a good thing we had dinner at the hotel because the British cyclists who biked the same route as us today went into town only to find the whole place closed on Tuesdays. The dinner was good, though, the patrons were pretty sparse. Montone isn’t very big, and doesn’t seem like a big tourist town, so I don’t know if there just weren’t enough people here, or really where everyone was. But, we were happy with the ease of eating here and then we headed back to the room to get ready for tomorrow and head to bed.