Le Corse: Bonifacio to Propriano. - Lookin For John Fairweather - CycleBlaze

March 28, 2014

Le Corse: Bonifacio to Propriano.

Thursday afternoon I ride off the ferry and along a narrow rain soaked pier by a mariner and expensive boutiques on the inside. The rain has eased off for the moment, but only just. I wonder which way to the centre. The tourist office from where I can find a cheap hotel for the night. Then at a small roundabout, see a "Centre de Ville" sign pointing uphill to a citadel on a hilltop. The final ascend turns a corner and up a steep cobble-stone street. And somehow when riding, especially in the rain which is coming on again, I miss seeing things, or look the wrong way at the wrong time, because at the top I see a sign "Office de Tourisme" point back down the hill. Then I see the tourist office in the corner, which I passed by while my gaze was up the street.

My Trangia stove in the bathroom boiling water to make pasta.
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My new map of Corsica laid out upon the bed.
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The woman behind the desk in the tourist office says the cheapest hotel is Le Royal, which is back up the street to exactly the corner I saw the tourist office sign. The woman behind the bar at the hotel tells me a single is forty-one euros without breakfast, which is seven euros extra. I still have a tub of yogurt and muesli, so I pass on breakfast. It seems an extravagant sum for what I see the following morning on an other quest's table; namely, a small piece of baguette and a croissants, juice and coffee.

The rain during the evening pelts down. I hear it rumbling on the roof of the observatory to the side of the bar which is the breakfast room and where the bike is kept. Here I sit until late writing for the journal as the wi-fi network doesn't reach my room on the second floor. Another reason to be disgruntle with the high price. Then as its too wet to go out any place and any eating place most likely would be pricey, I return to the room around nine and cook pasta, which together with fruit and coke to drink which I forgot is in the bag, I have a satisfying dinner.

A great day both in terms of weather and itinerary.
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The following morning its gone eight o'clock when my feet touch the floor. Sunlight streams in and looking out there are shadows in the street and a cloudless blue sky. Breakfast is the tub of yogurt and muesli mentioned and later down in the breakfast room while putting the panniers and stuff on the bike, I see how little seven euros buys on the breakfast table of two middle-aged ladies. Its nearly nine thirty on setting off down the hill, which is late for me. Riding out of town it seems the busiest time of the morning as every time I slow to look at something, lots of traffic appear. Then the first few kilometres away from town the road climbs with near vertical slopes either side, meaning nothing to see. On cresting the hill though the landscape opens up ahead of me. The road sweeping down and traversing a valley with a coastal bay on the left. Then further on to avoid a mountain the road skirts out along the coast before climbing up and inland. And it being Spring everywhere is lush green with wildflowers sprinkling the roadside in vivid colour.

Not the nicest of flora, but it shows the net and flow.
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The familiar French road marker.
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I don't know the name of this, but I saw it before on the Valdez Peninsular in Argentina. Then it was in bloom in October during the Southern Hemisphere Spring.
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This has a nice lemon colour.
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A sheep farm.
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A coffee stop in Sartee.
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A corner in Sartee.
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But the down side of the day among this magnificent scenery and gorgeous weather is the bottom-bracket starts to go badly to the point that I desperately need to reach a bike shop. Before Sartee, a small traditionally French town perched on a hilltop, there is a climb upon which the bracket bearing begins jamming and cracking and the amount of play increases considerably to the point where, I can rock the cranks perhaps a centimetre from side-to-side. It is a wonder the chain isn't skipping under the strain of riding uphill. I descend the last bit into town and see a fishing shop to the side. I stop and ask inside if there's a bike shop in town. The man behind the counter speaks a little English and tells me the nearest bike shop is in Propriano, another twelve kilometres.

Its all downhill to Propriano at the coast, which puts no further strain on the shatter bottom-bracket. Riding downhill into town at four-thirty, I'm passing a motorcycle shop when I brake and return back, thinking this may be the place to ask. Inside there are cycle components and accessories. The mechanic who also looks to be the owner has his workshop just beyond the counter. He is underneath a big bike on a stand. When he gets up and acknowledges my presents, I ask does he speak English to which he replies "a little." Then he call out a woman that does speak good English. I tell her what the problem is. She sends me back uphill, though only a few hundred metres to a big shopping centre, wherein is an Intersport. I get there and I've to haul the bike up a flight of steps to the first floor. The assistant in the bike shop section isn't there at first, so while waiting I look around. There are Trek, GT and Look racing and mountain bikes and a wide selection of components, making me think there won't be much problem finding a bottom-bracket here. But when the assistant-cum-mechanic arrives, he takes the necessary tools from behind the counter and unscrews the crank-arm, looks at the cup, then screws the crank-arm back and nods negatively. He goes away and arrives back with a woman from another section to act as translater. She tells me he hasn't the right bracket in stock. I press her on how long it would take to order. After consulting with the mechanic, she tells me maybe a week. Then assures me there's a better bike shop in Ajaccio.

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Good night sun.
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I ride through town; all narrow streets with one-way traffic and a port, meaning just about every street I cycle along in the direction to take me out the other side of town is against the traffic. With a lot of riding on the sidewalk, I get back on a wider two-way street and out of town to the road onwards which follows the bay round. A few hundred metres on the left is beach. Then on the same side I come to an amenities area with a track into the beach. Seems the ideal place to stop the night. I ride in along the track which has a grass surface with a fence on one side and a hedge on the other and just before reaching the beach, on the fence side there's a wide grassy layby. I put the tent up quickly to make use of the last of the sun to dry it, as it was taken down wet the last morning. The place is quite public with walkers strolling by, but my tent is small and I just look upon what I'm doing as having a picnic then lying down to sleep.

Today's ride: 71 km (44 miles)
Total: 12,918 km (8,022 miles)

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