Day ride: east of Marsala - In the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies - CycleBlaze

April 3, 2019

Day ride: east of Marsala

I know I’m just getting too picky, but I’m surprised to not be happier with our B&B here in Marsala.  It’s a nice place, actually - a modernized renovation of an older building on a back alley near the historical core.  The room quite large - a small apartment really, complete with kitchen (although you have to pay extra if you actually want to use the kitchen, which is a bit peculiar).  There’s no heat, and once again we spent our indoor hours huddled under blankets - but they’ve all been like that so far, and this place dos have a comfortable, large bed and warm blankets; so that’s fine. 

I started souring to it late last night when I was wrapping up yesterday’s post, when the WiFi went down and took a fair amount of work with it.  So, yesterday’s post is on the brief side because I lost patience the second time through.  There were some really fine, insightful thoughts I would have shared with you but unfortunately they didn’t make the final cut.

Breakfast though sealed the deal for me.  Breakfast begins at 8, and we arrived at 8:05 to find the dining room filled with burly guys hunkered over filled plates, and the self-serve counter all but emptied of the most interesting items.  One broken hard boiled egg remained, two thin slices of cheese and two of meat, some yogurt, some corn flakes, some toast, some small cornatis.  Our hostess was there, but in a hurry to leave.  She indicated she was leaving about five minutes after we arrived, but paused briefly when Rachael requested a second cappucino.

Like I said, too picky.  Spoiled, spoiled, spoiled.

The weather forecast looks no more promising than it did yesterday so we make our decision.  We’ll catch the bus to Agrigento tomorrow morning.  It’s a town we didn’t stay in on our first visit to Sicily, and it’s large enough that we’ll find things to do on a wet day.

That’s tomorrow though.  Today, we’re off for one last ride through the west end - this time, to the hill town of Salemi and back.  It promises some fine riding, and strong winds building toward the end of the day to help us build up an appetite.

News flash (or is it a hot flash?): we have heat after all!

Almost as soon as we started biking it began to rain so we stopped in at this cafe for a second coffee.
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Well, we’re going to get another truncated narrative today.  Our B&B in Marsala looks destined to remain a definite unfavorite, as their WiFi failed again tonight.  Fortunately it waited until after I uploaded photos for the day, but it seems fully dead now.  I’ll finish out with the hot spot on our phone, which is serviceable but slow.

Very quickly then: it unexpectedly started raining almost as soon as we hopped on our bikes, so we stopped at a cafe to wait it out for a half hour.  While there, we changed our plans because we didn’t trust the weather and just decided to bike without a destination and stay closer to home.  We picked up sandwiches at the cafe, which would prove to be delicious.

Also: bicycling in Marsala is pretty awful.  Narrow streets, crazy drivers.  It’s a surprisingly large place, the fifth largest in Sicily, and it takes a while to escape it.  If you come to this part of the island I’d stay in nearby Mazara del Vallo instead, as we did last time.

Also: it stayed dry once we left the cafe, but it was very windy today.  It blew a steady 20-25 mph all day with occasional higher gusts, which kept us layered up even though it was in the low sixties.

Also: what an incredibly beautiful day!  This is just why we wanted to come back so soon.

Also: we had one of the best meals of the tour tonight, but you can’t see it because I can’t upload the photos.  I’ll toss them in with tomorrow’s entry.

It took us about six miles before we got out of the city and off the main road to Salemi. Unpleasant until now, but as soon as we diverged to a minor road the riding conditions immediately improved.
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After slowly climbing, we topped out on a low summit and found ourselves surrounded by a sea of brilliant yellow.
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This spot. Wow.
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Most of the color comes from this brilliant plant, whatever it is.
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Andrea BrownOxalis stricta, or common woodsorrel.
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Andrea BrownI don’t know. It looks pretty uncommon to me.
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2 months ago
Andrea BrownTo Scott AndersonAgreed, I think it’s gorgeous.
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2 months ago
Well, the plant shown above and the daisies. And what is this huge, brilliant thing towering above them? It grows to about six feet, and has a thick, almost woody stalk.
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Andrea BrownThe tall guy is a giant fennel, Ferula communis. The daisy-like ones used to be considered a chrysanthemum, but are now classified Glebionis coronarium. Apparently the ancients made them into crowns, hence the "coronarium".
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Andrea BrownOf course it’s fennel. We saw this last spring in Greece also. You think I’d remember something like that from one year to the next, wouldn’t you?
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2 months ago
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Dropping off that ridge, we’re out of the flower show. We broke off onto an even smaller road, and soon lost most of the pavement.
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This would be better as an animated GIF image so you could see the blades flying in the wind.
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Bruce LellmanIsn't that called video?
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2 months ago
Sue PriceWatch out! According to DJT, wind turbines cause cancer! 😊
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Sue PriceThat’s a concern, definitely. We try to keep our distance, but I’m sure these strong winds blow the carcinogens our way.
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanOh, video! I’d forgotten that was a thing. I could have used my phone, I guess. Everyone will be much happier when Rachael gets her GoPro operational next week.
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2 months ago
I love Rachael’s jacket - I can spot her a half mile away.
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Well, now we’ve gone and lost our pavement completely. Rough road, uphill, strong crosswind. Slow going.
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Andrea BrownWhat are the blue flowers? Can we get a close-up next time you ride by some? What a gorgeous, vivid blue!
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Andrea BrownOh, those. I hope we see some again. We’ve hardly seen any so it didn’t seem worth the bother. I’ll keep an eye out though and maybe we’ll get lucky.
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2 months ago
Lunch stop. We finally found some shelter from the wind, and are just around the corner in the shade enjoying our delicious sandwiches.
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I like these little tractors. They add a touch of color to an otherwise bland landscape. Like tossing in a dash of salt.
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This looks like a lot of sheep, but it’s only about a third of them. The others have already turned off into the field, driven by a couple other guys and a good number of dogs.
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We’re back on the lagoon again. We decided to hook into the end of yesterday’s ride for the last dozen miles because it’s a much quieter way into town.
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Mill and mountain. It’s surprising how much of the island you can see Monte Erice from.
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Back in town, entering through the Garibaldi Gate.
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Ride stats today: 40 miles, 1,500’; for the tour:  221 miles, 12,200’

Today's ride: 40 miles (64 km)
Total: 221 miles (356 km)

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