D5 to Lento - On Corse - CycleBlaze

D5 to Lento

through Murato & de Lancone Gorge to Bastia

We should be riding north along the N 197, but I got mixed up in Ponte Leccia and we're on the east-bound N 193. 

This is the kind of busy, main highway that cyclists want to avoid. We only realise after a few kilometres when the turnoff doesn't appear. Too late now. 

We decide to go a bit further and make a left on to the D5. That'll take us north-ish. It's not as if either Dave and I have a destination in mind. This is a tour.

It's not long before we're near the junction and spot a roadside cafe where we opt ot have a coffee. It's a traditional place with ceramic pre-war floor tiles and wooden tables - the owner has probably had it for decades. She's elderly and wears a summer frock with a floral print. 

From its window we can see across the road, the hills rising and know we've got a climb coming. It turns out to be 20km to the very top, but we're into that now.

My map-reading mistake earlier turns out to be fortuitous. The D5 is wonderful. Yes, we're climbing, but that's inevitable in Corsica's central area. 

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This road is tranquil with yellow-flowering shrubs covering the slopes. Some trees shade the lower section, but as we rise higher around the bends there's little cover, so it's all a bit frazzling. After about 15km we find a welcome roadside fountain and guzzle a load of cold water. The village of Lento is across the hillside, a jumble of stone houses with red roofs, and we know it won't be long before we're there. Hopefully it'll have a cafe.

It does, but the doors are locked: maybe it's siesta time. We have some bread bought this morning from the store in Ponte Veccia together with a tin of mackerel, some cheese and a couple of tomatoes, so sit in the shade of a tree and feast. The village is deadly quiet. As we set off we find another water fountain and refill our bottles. It's idylic here.

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The D 5 continues up and there are the snow-capped peaks to our left. We reach a col and drop fast to Muranto, where we have an ice cream. From here, just a few kilometres along the D 5, is the col de San Stefano (368m) and once there we wonder what to do next. 

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The route carries on north to Oletta, where we could drop sraight into Bastia on the D 38, which looks really good - our map shows the road with one of those green lines. In the end we make a right, riding down the D 62 that zips through Lancone Gorge. On the map it's got a green line too. Then again, most minor roads in Corsica do. You can't go wrong.

There's a white line painted down the middle, but the road is practically single-track and clings dangerously to the high top of the gorge's northern wall. After stopping at one of the few places with a bit of room, we peer below into the bottom and see a few car wrecks strewn about. It's a long way down. There's little to stop you going over. 

We then cruise along towards the coast and hit the main N 193, which is nasty. Our plan to find a small route running parallel to it comes to nothing - they turn out to be dead ends. There is one road inland, but it'll climb up and down and we don't have the energy for that now. With only a handful of kilometers to cover, we simply put it in a high gear and crank it up.

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There's a tunnel we have to go around, lugging our bikes up a long flight of concrete steps to reach the older part of Bastia. We wander its cobbled alleys, see the ancient church and then drop to the center and make our way to the ferry terminal to get some details about sailings the next day. As luck would have it there's an overnight one leaving in an hour or so and we buy two tickets. 

There's just enough time for us to eat at one of the restaurants bordering the city's plazza before dashing back to load our bikes on board. That's it, before we've had time to think. It's sadly game over.

Today's ride: 60 km (37 miles)
Total: 720 km (447 miles)

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