Holy Apes#%t Appennine Batman! - 9 1/2 Weeks - CycleBlaze

October 26, 2019

Holy Apes#%t Appennine Batman!

Formica to Porretta Terme

Even in a simple trattoria, the food is superb!
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Hey, Bobby Frost ... if you took the more travelled road you wouldn't be pushing your bike up one that would be more fun to ski down would you! However, you wouldn't have met, and surprised, Alberto, and you wouldn't have become a minor celebrity in Montese either.

Fed, watered and wined in Porretta Terme, with time to reflect on the day, you are absolutely right that the road less travelled is the better choice. But holy crap, a road less travelled in the Apennine involves some serious steep!

We knew today was going to have lots of elevation, all gained and lost in short, sharp shocks. That's the primary reason we planned a short, distance wise, day. Good thing we did too.  We could have taken a longer route, with the same net elevation gain, and pedalled our bikes the whole way, but we didn't. As a result, after riding about 20 km, the first 8 on a wet and slick dirt/gravel bike path  and the rest on a quiet perfectly paved local highway, we took off basically straight up out of the Panaro river valley towards Montese. Our straight up pedalling lasted about a kilometer. Then we pushed. After about 2 km's , and 350 m of elevation gain (do the math on that gradient), a good chunk of it on a muddy forest track we popped out onto a flat section in Alberto's  farm yard.

His dog saw us long before he did, and was getting pretty excited about our arrival. Hearing his dog making quite a commotion, Alberto thought there might be a wild boar thrashing about in the forest. Nope, no boars, just us. Must be quite a site to see two old sweaty lycra clad folks pushing their bike up  a muddy forest track that has probably only seen three tractors in the last month. 

This unusual confluence of events always leads to a conversation, and from that, thanks to lots of gesticulation and a little help from Google translate, we found out that Alberto had a Pizzeria / Gelateria / Pasticeria in Montese, about a 5 km pedal down more reasonable (i.e 8 - 12% grade hills) road.

After the obligatory pictures, and cleaning the mud out of our cleats, we pedalled off towards Montese for lunch. Since we now knew Alberto we decided to check out his place. When we arrived, word of our adventure had arrived at about the same time. Before long we're recounting our adventures with Gabriel, who's working at the pizzeria, Polly (from London) and her friend Emanuella , who were just having lunch here as well. Then Alberto shows up, cleaned up and not wearing his farmer coveralls's. One thing leads to another and we're all lined up taking pictures and the local retired policeman joins in ... then the talk turns to us ending up in the local paper ... in about 2 months next time it's published!

This sort of thing does not happen on 'the more travelled' Danube or Loire cycle paths, and makes the pretty tough push up the mountain worth it.

The rest of the day we biked along really nice roads and saw lots of beautiful stuff. Cloudy and hazy so this pics don't do it justice but did remind us a lot of Croatia between Zagreb and the Coast ... up and down and green with not a level spot anywhere!

We finished the day in Porretta Terme , a nice little spa town (Terme is Italian for hot springs). More of the same tomorrow as we head into the heart of Tuscany.

Song of the Day, When I'm Up I Can't get Down by Great Big Sea. Just kind of fits with a great big push up hill only to discover folks and experience we are unlikely to ever replicate.

Take note of the Wall at about km 26!
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Karin Kaarsoo🤤🤤🤤
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3 weeks ago
Setting off from Formica, cloudy but dry!
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Glenna JefferiesWhy are Kirsten's bags fuller than yours? I cannot imagine that she has been shopping!
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3 weeks ago
Lyle McLeodTo Glenna JefferiesOptical illusion I think! I’m a bit more particular about packing and my bags are probably more densely packed I’m pretty sure I’m carrying a bit more weight (mostly electronics)
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3 weeks ago
Impressive Castle Terra di Ciliegie e Castelli at Vignola / Formica. Didn't get a picture of this yesterday 'cause it was dumping rain on us!
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Remnants of the old city wall just about ready to fall into the river!
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The first 6-7 km of today's route was wet and slick single track along The Panaro river south out of Vignola. The soil here has a high clay content, making it very slippery when wet! This was one of the better sections.
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Enjoying the view before the brunt of the climb
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Just as we started to climb out of the Panaro valley, the sky lightened up a bit. This picture spot also marked the end of our riding for the next ~2 km's!
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The road behind K just kept getting steeper and steeper!
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Pic does not capture the slope ... over 20% at this point!
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Rachael AndersonIsn’t it fun pushing your loaded bicycle up a very steep climb! Well think of it as a full body workout. You are both very tough!
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3 weeks ago
Lyle McLeodTo Rachael AndersonOr incredibly stupid 🕺! In the famous words of Moose DuPont (A defenceman for the Montreal Canadiens in the ‘70’s) .... ‘strong like bull, smart like streetcar!’
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3 weeks ago
Beautiful it steeper than it looks!
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The first, and easier, push done
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After 350 m elevation gain in about 2 km, we popped out from the muddy leaf covered track to meet Alberto!
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About an hour later we all met up again for lunch in Montese
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If you're ever in Montese, drop by the Vecchia for some great gelato!
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Once we hit Montese, we had about 90% of our elevation gained and we were cruising along the beautiful ridge tops
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Taking in the view after most of the climbing was done
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There were a few small bits of beauty along the way as well
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No problem on pavement! Trouble starts at 20%!
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My turn to enjoy the descent
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... and then we got to go down, and down, and then down some more!
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There seemed to be barking dogs at every turn ... none had the great perch that this guy had though!
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Beautiful rolling hills as we descended to Porretta
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belisimo!
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These guys made more noise than the dogs as we came by
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more bellissimo!
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... and more down ... the pavement wasn't the best, but gravity made up for it
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There was a display of classic italian motorcycles in Porretta ... maybe someday?
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Signing off from Porretta Terme!
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Today's ride: 54 km (34 miles)
Total: 2,276 km (1,413 miles)

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Karin KaarsooThat is quite a day! I only walked about 7km in London. Tame compared to your efforts
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3 weeks ago
polly iannacconeSo lovely to meet you at the gelateria and so impressed with your journey so far. Good luck with the rest of your trip, I will be following your progress!
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3 weeks ago