Who Let The Dogs Out - 9 1/2 Weeks - CycleBlaze

November 3, 2019

Who Let The Dogs Out

Ariano Irpino to Candela

'Oooh', another day of cycling in the Apennines our thighs excitedly exclaimed this morning.  

'Yeah!' said our noses as the water dripped off them from the pouring rain as we set off.

'This is exciting - have another shot of adrenaline' our amygdala system shouted out as yet another pack of large dogs raced towards us as we were grinding up another 12% grade hill.

In spite of all this, we had a pretty good day. Short, more downhill than uphill, probably more time without rain than with ... and we crossed over into Pulgia. That's the place with the beautiful ancient white stone cites, the endless blue skies and the calm Adriatic sea stretching out before you isn't it? 

At least in the postcards it is and hopefully in a few days time we will get to see all this. Today though was one of those sort of days where you just have to get it done. This was driven almost entirely by the weather as the country side continues to be gorgeous and the biking, while certainly physically challenging on some of the uphills, is for the most part sublime. 

The wind really picked up last night and when we awoke this morning, there rain was coming down, hard. The forecast called for this for most of the day. Sensible folks probably would have booked another night at "The Biffy", but being unusually organised and planning forward, we have booked the next few nights ahead through to Matera. Staying a day to wait out the rain would be a big hit to the pocket book for two folks with a lot of Scots lineage! So off into the rain it was.

We intentionally planned a short day distance wise, knowing that it would also entail about 1000+ m of climbing (and pushing). However we would also cross over 'the divide' of the Appenines and it will be more or less net downhill to Lecce after today. We like to kid ourselves with the concept of 'net elevation' here in Italy. The reality is that there is a lot of both up and down every day.

We also had a 'first' in all of our years of touring right out of the gate  today. We started off on a down hill run out of Ariano, in pouring rain, with me in the lead. After about 800 m our route turned off the main road and took a steep drop on a secondary 'farm' road. Just as I was making the left turn, a passing car honked his horn and waved at me ... this isn't that uncommon ... someone trying to give you a little encouragement in otherwise dreadful conditions. As I made the turn I glanced back and thought I saw Kirsten's headlight behind me (Son hubs and Edolux lights that are ALWAYS on are essential!) and proceeded to ride down the steep hill (the road looked more like a river with water flowing down it) for about one km. When I came to a junction I stopped to wait for Kirsten. This usually takes no more than 15 seconds for her to appear. A minute goes by and no K. This is not good. 

I sprint it back up the hill, no sign of K approaching, and I start thinking that maybe the honk and wave from the driver was something else rather than a 'have a nice day' gesture. 

Turned out that this was the correct answer. K, who was about 100m behind me, had her back wheel slip out from under her (hit a curb?) and she went down just as the 'honk and wave' guy was approaching and I was making the left turn.

He stopped to see if she was ok. She was, but one of her panniers came off and her handlebars were also twisted. By the time this all got put back together, I was long out of sight and K was not sure where I had turned. Also, since it was raining, hard, she had her phone (with the Pocket Earth GPS route) in her front bag since her case is not waterproof like mine. She set off down the road, missed the turn and ended up at a roundabout about 800 m further down the main road, expecting to find me.

Of course she didn't, and by this time I had made it back to the corner where all this started with no sign of K anywhere. Rain still pounding down. Not a good situation. Step 1, try to phone her ... immediately get a Swedish voice mail (our sim cards are Swedish) .. phone must be on airplane mode. Step 2, send text, Step 3 send Facebook message (and for anybody who knows me and Facebook, this is a major challenge!)

No response from any of these steps after a few minutes and a bit of panic is starting to creep in when I see a lone headlight coming back up the hill! Disaster averted, but a good wake up call for both of us to make sure we are in sight of each other and or have an immediate means of communication if something goes awry.

Once the team was back together, we set off on the first down hill ... a 200 m vertical descent that was full on hard braking the whole way down. My Garmin was reading -19% ( funny it won't register more than about 15% on the uphill where upon it reverts to zero ... that's not what your legs & lungs are thinking though!). And guess what, we hit the bottom and get the mirror image going right back up 200 m. Once we got this elevation regained we were riding along ridge lines with rolling and ride-able ups and downs for the next 20 km's, interspersed with a  few smaller snakes & ladders experiences. We topped out at 900 m and then had a nice long 25 km gradual descent towards Candela. It was good, but on any other day it would have been great. Although it didn't rain on us constantly, we did have four good bouts of rain throughout the day, and a constant 25 km/hr cross wind which made things interesting.

So why 'Who Let The Dogs Out'?

All through Italy so far there have been a lot of dogs, most of them pretty yappy. In the north 99.9 % of the them have been on a leash or behind a fence. No big deal, just lots of noise.

Now we are in the south and it's a different story. First, nobody seems content with just one or two dogs. Four seems to be the minimum and the average is probably 6. Second, and most important, they are running free, which means they are running towards you! If it's a group of pint size yap hounds that's not that big of a deal. However the farmers here really like Alsatians, Mastifs and large Bulldogs. That is not fun.

Twice today we had to get off our bikes and put them between a pack of dogs and us. Actually, one of the instances it was not a pack, but one singular huge Maremma. This is an Italian sheep dog bred to protect flocks of sheep from wolves. They look like a very big white Newfoundland, they are not friendly, they mean business. Wolves generally won't go near them. Luckily for us this dogs master was in the farm yard and controlled it.  We may be on the look out for a few cans of pepper spray!

So it was a day filled with a few new experiences, and a few old ones like rain and wind ... and our home for the night at the top of another 250 m climb!

Candela is definitely not on the tourist trail. I think we were the tourist attraction. There's one B&B, where we are, and one hostel. Two  trattorias and a few cafes. When we went into one cafe for our post ride bevy, the proprietor knew that we were staying at the B&B and recognised us from earlier in the day when he saw us slogging up a hill in the rain! We gave him our autographs! All good though and I think we like these small out of the way places better than being with throngs at the Trevi fountain.

We turn south tomorrow towards the heart of Puglia. Hopefully the sun, wind and clouds play along.

Song of The Day, Dog Days Are Over by Florence + Machine. After today, we certainly hope they are .

"Leave all your love and your longing behind you

Can't carry it with you if you want to survive"

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The view out the hotel window this morning ... I could swear I saw more hills there yesterday!
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When it wasn't raining the countryside was sublime!
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This cloud was below us! No rain on us at this point in time and it made for a great picture
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The start of the day shot was in a grimy parkade as we were hiding from the rain ... this one from about an hour later is far better
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The ridge in the background is where Ariano is. The main town and castle hill is completely in the clouds on the right. We descended the hill in the background (double digit grades!) and immediately climbed back up to where this pic is taken. Good wake up for the legs and lungs
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Yep, there is a whole town and big castle in that cloud!
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One more of our snakes and ladders experiences. This was was 200 m down and then climb back up to our eventiual summitt at 900 m. It was in this 'gully; where we had one of 'pack of dogs' experiences .. 6 dogs, 2 of them BIG bulldogs chasing us for about 800 m. Found a good size tree branch to threaten them with and they eventually took off. Not fun. But beautiful countryside!
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Rachael AndersonNo fun getting chased by dogs especially when you’re climbing! Hope you have a better ride tomorrow.
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2 weeks ago
180 degrees turn from the last pic ... this is our final summit ridge at 900 m. There are a lot of windmills in this area and they are getting a good work out today
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The clouds finally cleared off of Ariano ... took this with a 300 mm (eq) telephoto. It's about 10 km as the crow flies and 22 km road distance away
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K topping out at 900 m
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... under the long line of windmills along the ridge
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We cycled past a couple of lovely hill top towns .. this is Montelone di Puglia
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... and this, I believe, is Panni ... pasted to a hill side about 6 km north of us
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Our decent path towards Candela ... last of the biking pic's ... had a great run down, side wind with sometimes a bit of a push from behind, moderate grades so you could let the bike run. A 20 km+ downhill run ! Unfortunately, the last 7 km's were in the rain and that lasted all the way up the 5 km grind to Candela
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I have no idea how folks drive in these towns. Here in Candela there are more stairs connecting the streets than roads .... lovely smooth white paving stone. I think we will be seeing a lot more of these
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It was nice to have finished biking early enough to have some time to explore the town before the sun set ... even if it was raining!
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There are lots of renovation projects in this town if you are so inclined
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cute little planter
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As with most small off the beaten path towns, the majority of inhabitants are seniors (i.e people 10+ years older than us!)
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Roof tiles a little more rustic here
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Good night from Candela Puglia
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Karin KaarsooLooking good!
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1 week ago

Today's ride: 53 km (33 miles)
Total: 2,799 km (1,738 miles)

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Comment on this entry Comment 3
Rachael AndersonSorry for all your problems today. I hope the weather is good for you in Puglia. Puglia is great and it has wonderful food.
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2 weeks ago
Lyle McLeodTo Rachael AndersonHi Rachel,
I hope the post didn't come across as whining ... both K and I really enjoyed the day. It would have been different if K had been hurt or we had been separated for hours, but as it was, all the things that happened during the day are the sort of things that can and do happen on a tour, as I'm sure you are aware.
We will enjoy the food in Puglia ... just finding out more about Venosa (where we are tonight) and it is supposed to be well know for wine (Aglianico del Vulture DOC) ... but its Monday so finding a place that's open where can get some might be a challenge!
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2 weeks ago
Rachael AndersonTo Lyle McLeodYou definitely aren’t whiners. I should know since I’m the queen of whiners! After 31 years of bicycle touring with lots of foul weather, dogs and mishaps, I now want it all to be great. We sure have been lucky on weather.
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2 weeks ago