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The not so flat, flat route – Camucia to Gubbio (78/12,664ks)

(written by Dave)

The hotel was quiet overnight and we both got a good night’s sleep.  I think the hills of Tuscany are taking their toll as we were both pretty tired.  Today based on advice from the hotel owner, we took the long-cut around the big climb out of Camucia.  So much for local knowledge, I don’t think the owner had ever driven the route he sent us on.  It climbed a lot, ending only50 meters lower than the route we were thinking of taking.  But it also added another 10k to the total mileage of the day.  At least it was a nice day.

We stopped at great bakery/coffee shop – Vanelli – for breakfast before heading out of Camucia.  The picture yesterday of a coffee roaster was from there.  They make a great coffee and all of their own homemade breads and pastries.  We had ham and cheese sandwiches and croissants along with our coffee.  Wow, great – I think I could get used to this.

It was a good thing that we ate a lot as we had a hard morning of riding.  The climb that I previously mentioned started with a bang in the town of Tuoro.  On the map, there was a road that looked like a short-cut.  It was shorter but it also topped out with a 16 percent grade.  Yesterday I mentioned that there is probably not too much difference between 11% and 12%.  Well, for the record, there a big difference with 16%.  It was only a short pitch but it about killed me.  Nancy bailed and pushed her bike for the last steep bit – actually, once I caught my breath, I walked back down to help her push the last bit.  I don’t think I’ve ridden 16% previously.  Certainly not on a loaded touring bike.

After Tuoro the climb leveled out.  Or at least it never went over 11% again.  It went on for a long while however, taking us over an hour to reach the top.  While hard, we were treated with great views of Lake Trasimeno as we climbed.  There was no traffic as well.  If we had been expecting the climb, rather than the promised flat road, it would have been pretty great.

The downhill off the climb lasted almost 25k, with the first 7k being pretty steep.  We stopped for morning tea after the first 15k.  We pulled into one of the random roadside bars in a small town which name escapes us.  We got a couple good coffees and also learned from the resident publican that the former PM of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi is a “bongo”.  The publican spoke no English but we gathered that he was not a Berlusconi fan and that bongo was not a great term of endearment.

Sometime during the day we passed from the province of Siena into the province of Umbria.  The scenery changed to being more mountainous with fewer vast rolling hills and more closed in hills.  Still quite nice to look at but not the same as yesterday.  Almost all of the homes and buildings in the country now are made of stone (only a little brick and stucco).  The soil here must not be as good.  We’ve seen crops but mostly olive trees and wine, not as much grass as we saw in Siena.

We had lunch in Umbertide and were left facing the last 27k to Gubbio.  My ability to read the contours of the maps here (to tell up and down roads) has been severely challenged.  The rolling hills seem to go every direction.  I thought that the last bit would be another big climb but we were presently surprised to find it only moderately uphill.  Highway 219 is marked as scenic on our map and it was quiet nice.  Unfortunately it was also a road used by heavy trucks crossing from one side to the other side of Italy.  Also a bit strange – as we started the climbing after Umbertide we saw a couple women on the side of the road at a pull-off.  It was strange as this was in the middle of nowhere and they did not appear to have a car.  As we rode further up the canyon, we saw several more women, often in pairs, with only a handbag and perhaps a chair.  Eventually we put two and two together and figured out that the girls were on this highway, near the bigger pull off so that they could “entertain” any of the truckers who might just happen to pull over.  All a bit weird and we could have gotten it wrong but I don’t think so.  As if to confirm the point, when we reached the service station at the top, they had two outside condom vending machines and one adult movie vending machine.  Odd.

We made it to Gubbio about 3PM.  A little later than we like and we were knackered.  We had a bit of trouble finding a place to stay as the town itself is very old with steep narrow stone streets.  We had wanted to try camping but the forecast is for freezing temps and the nearby campground doesn’t open until April.  We eventually located the Gattepone Hotel and settled in.  I headed out for some photos, Nancy relaxed in the room.  Gubbio has to be one the most scenic medieval villages that we’ve ever seen.  Take away the cars (of which there are few) and you’d have a 15 century town – narrow stone streets with lots of archways and stone buildings.  There is even a Roman amphitheater that we hope to get a look at on the way out of town.  Again, a place where we’d love to spend a few days if our visas permitted.

Nothing opened for dinner until 7PM so it’s late now and we are ready for bed.  We got a good feed just round the corner from our hotel, leaving just after 9PM.  The restaurant was empty when we arrived and filling quickly at 9:15 – they do eat late here.

Tomorrow we don’t know how far we will ride.  We know that we have one good climb in the morning but then hope the downhill takes us pretty close to Ancona.  Our “sprint” across Italy is almost complete and boy are we pleased that we didn’t fly.  Bicycle travel is the only way to go if you want to see things…  Only wish we had more time as Italy has been a great place to visit.

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6 responses to “The not so flat, flat route – Camucia to Gubbio (78/12,664ks)

  1. Jonathan and I remember having to use our 32×27 a lot in Tuscany and we got really worried that we would have big problem when we got into the Dolomite’s. The hills were tough with our lite racing bikes, so I can only imagine how hard it is with fully loaded touring bikes. But then I always knew you are both very strong! Love the pictures!

  2. Love the Gubbio scene of the narrow street. I stole it.

  3. Jude and Hugh Wilson

    We have a 22 x 34 if you’d like a loan.

  4. As always, great reading! Thanks for taking us along for the ride! Now it’s back to work for you two?

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