A Wet Start: Saint Florent to Bastia. - Lookin For John Fairweather - CycleBlaze

April 4, 2014

A Wet Start: Saint Florent to Bastia.

It's raining this morning. It begins shortly after waking up at seven with soft pattering on the tent, increasing to an intense drumming as I eat breakfast of baguette and brie. I notice there's a bit of a leak as there's a puddle by the foot of my sleeping-bag.

The rain fizzles out after half an hour lying in the tent waiting, hoping it isn't going to rain all day. So I pack everything quickly and get the tent down and all packed on the bike ready to go, as I don't know yet what the weather will do, but it's somehow not so bad when you're moving if it starts raining again.

I wheel the bike down the track to the road. The road is puddled but my front mudguard is going a good job stopping water spraying off the wheel into my shoes. Wet feet is one of the most miserable feelings.

Its a climb up the valley, then a steep switchback climb where I pause and look back at the grey twists of clouds lifting off the hills. Further up I ride into a fog just as the road levels out and begins going down, and soon I'm below the cloud again. The road plunges steeply down to the coast and once I reach the urban area of Bastia, there's a ridiculously steep street down to the waterfront, where I turn left, joining a busy highway which enters a six-hundred metre long tunnel. There's no shoulder, but there's a raised walkway, too narrow to safely ride upon with my loaded bike, so I get off and push. Six-hundred metres is a long walk on a narrow walkway and the exhaust fumes are thick in the air. It's almost too much. Then the traffic begins to back up to a crawl, so as there is no longer danger from being hit by a car, I get down off the walkway and start riding.

The ferry terminal is not far ahead when I emerge from the tunnel. The electronic boards shows a sailing to Marseille at 18.30, but as it's only eleven, the ticket desk hasn't opened yet. I cycle off into town and soon find a boulangerie-cafe where I take a seat and read my book for a few hours. In the book its World War Two and Italy is bogged down in an invasion of Greece. The ordinary Italian soldier suffers incredibly in the mountains during the Winter, where the biggest killers are starvation and what they called White Death: frost-bitten feet and extremities, leading to gangrene and loss of life.

Later I cannot believe it. In the time I've been sitting, I've eaten a small slice of pizza, a croissant and drank three cups of coffee for thirteen euros. And returning to the ferry terminal, I stop at a Spar shop to buy my food for the sailing, amounting to two tubs of couscous, a baguette, a triangle of brie, bananas, two cans of beer, soap and razors, which tot up to fifteen euros.

Another concern is my front gear-cable is fraying and is on the point of snapping if I change gear, so I'm limited to using the middle chain-ring at the front. Tomorrow or in the next few days I hope I'm passing a bike shop.

The ship sails on schedule and soon when looking out is sailing by the island's mountainous northern cape. The sea is calm and what more can I write apart from this being my sixth ferry voyage since leaving Turkey. There are just two to go.

Today's ride: 21 km (13 miles)
Total: 13,254 km (8,231 miles)

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