The Corsica sea shore, about 25 miles north of Calvi
Bastia was not what I expected. It is a big city with lots of
action/traffic/smog. It, and Corsica, are also hot. When I left my hot hotel
room this morning, It felt like I was in Florida. Then it felt hotter!
< grin >, but that was because I was climbing lots of hills. Todays ride,
taking the "flat" way to Clavi, had essentialy the same amount of climbing
(4000+ feet) as the hardest days of this tour.
Climbing towards Calvi
"Expresswaying" towards Calvi
I, following the signs for Calvi, initially climbed towards the hills above Bastia. That was hot climbing, so when I saw that I had a choice - my Microsoft Autoroute 2002 does not do well on Corsica - I took the low route. That meant giving up the several hundred feet I had climbed and heading down the coast on an expressway for a dozen miles. Not fun, but not too bad either. When the road, n193, headed inland towards Calvi, the riding got much better.
N193 heading inland
The view from N193
The river along which n193 runs heading inland
Apparently N193 is the route most tourists use: I saw half a dozen of them in the first 20 miles, all heading towards Bastia. The road climbs and descends for a while, then settles down to a gentle climb along a river. Nice riding. I figured that there would be a climb somewhere in the middle as the road switched from one river valley to another. It was long time coming, but, after Pointe Leccia, a fairly gentle climb started, heading away from the river. After I had been climbing for a while, I was lulled into a false sense of security, and stopped for luch at a pizzaria. It was a good lunch - pizza and beer again, this time Corsican beer which was good - and I took my time. Then I pedalled on, around the next corner, and saw that, as in Tuscany, I was in for a big climb right after lunch!
The hill in the middle of Corsica
This was another 700+ foot climb, but it wasn't nearly as bad a climb. The best thing was that I had a pretty strong headwind. Earlier climbs had been accompanied by a gentle tailwind - the worst possible climbing condition in hot weather - but, in the middle of Corsica which is a desert, a headwind meant a cool climb. It wasn't easy, but it wasn't unpleasant, just a long grind.
A farm near the top of the climb, note the yucca like plant and the mountains
A church at the top - about 1500 feet
And a mountain town
Going down was really sweet for the next ten miles or so. A moderate grade at first followed by a long gentle downhill. Nice. Eventually, I could see the Mediterranean Sea in the distance Then I came to a hill. so I stopped for a break and after the break, headed up the hill. On the other side, the road came down to the sea.
Looking east at the Mediterranean Sea
Things got really pretty after that as the road ran along the seashore.
There were several beaches that made the beaches I saw on the Italian coast look bad. There were lots of climbs an descents, and lots of nice views. There were also, as I rode further south, too many towns and too much traffic!
In Isla Rosa, I was delayed for a least half an hour by a traffic jam. I
managed to get off the main road and found a supernarket where I bought
bread an a 1.5 l coke. Speaking of buying things, when I stopped for a snack
on N193, it cost my 4 Euro for a small coke and a small icecream. Yesterday,
on the Italian coast, it cost me 3 Euro for a bigger coke and a bigger ice
cream. In Slovenia it cost me 2 Euro or less for the same thing. Corsica is
expensive! I'm writing this a seaside cafe (and internet cafe) in Calvi,
looking at a succession of yatchs, each bigger than the last, moored within
100 feet of me. I guess I'm looking at 10 million dollars worth of boats -
and that is just three of the hundreds that are in this harbor. This is
definitely a high rent district! A later note: a child on one of those boats
started it and ran it into the others, creating a domino collision that rocked
all of them. I don't know if there was any real damage.
When I finally got to Calvi - there is a big climb between Isla Rosa and
Calvi- I stopped at a three start hotel to as abut the ferry and an internet
cafe. Their rates were higher than the four start hotel I stayed in in
Italy. I found the ferry place, but they didn't go to Marseille. There was
another place, but they were already closed. So I rode on looking for the
internet cafe. I didn't find it, but I did find a nice campground near the
south end of town. Faced with paying a lot of money for a hot hotel room or
well over 100 Euro for an air-conditioned room, I decided to camp. That
worked out pretty well although even camped 100 yard from the sea, the heat
made sleeping difficult.
My camp site
My office at the campground where I was able to use my computer
And the daughter of the hosts who was very charming
Since my site was inexpensive, less than 7 Euro, I indulged myself with a Corsican supper (strange, but good) a large beer and later a coke. The total cost for the evening an the nights camping was about 25 Euro. As a side benefit, I immersed my self in the Mediterranean - that felt very good - before I showered. I also simply enjoyed the people and the beautiful place.
This morning, when the other ferry office opened, I found out that the ferry
to Marseille runs from Isla Rosa this evening. It is an overnight ride,
which probably means a night without much sleep, but I'd rather that that
the night time arrival of the ferry from here to Nice. I'm not looking
forward to the ride back to Isla Rosa, that is a big hill in the middle and
it will be quite hot riding with lots of traffic, but I have a day here to
catch up on my ride reports and play regular tourist. I do wish it wasn't
quite so hot here. I'm sweating in the shade with a sea breeze...