Arrival - Southern Italy, 2006 - CycleBlaze

April 28, 2006 to April 30, 2019


It’s a cold and drizzling day here in Portland.  From the looks of it we can expect another week like this, at least.  Not really conditions that encourage you to hop on the bike and explore the neighborhood.  Instead, they encourage you to sit around home with a hot beverage and transport yourself back to some warmer, sunnier days in the past.  Springtime in southern Italy comes to mind.  I feel warmer already, just thinking of it.

I’ve never written up our first tour of southern Italy, taken in the spring of 2006.  I didn’t write anything up at the time either, as I recall.  If I kept any sort of journal it’s been lost along the way; but I don’t think I kept one at all.  At some point I quit journaling our travels - it was too hard to keep up with it on the road, and no one but me ever looked at them anyway.  I didn’t pick up the discipline again until I discovered Crazyguy some years later, so this tour more or less falls into the undocumented dark ages.  All we have to work with are photographs, the captions I gave to some of them on Flickr, and my feeble memory.

So, we’re left with precious little to craft a journal from.  Sooner is better than still later though, so we’ll do our best and see what comes out.  If nothing else, it will give us a place to hang the photos where we can find them again.

Our tour began and ended in Rome.  We had made arrangements with a centrally located hotel to hold our bicycle bags for the month we would be on the road.  I don’t remember for certain now how we managed this, or any of our other accommodations either.  Thinking back on some of the places we stayed though I think we must have booked everything in advance - because I’m sure we wouldn’t have just stumbled on or consciously chosen some of them otherwise.  We were traveling with a GPS then (we’d just picked them up the previous fall for our tour of Japan), so this must have been one of our first tours where we booked our lodging in advance and mapped out all of the routes before leaving home. 

This tour was in our pre-Bike Friday days - those bikes wouldn’t arrive until 2009, after we were shocked by how much it cost us in extra baggage fees to fly home from our first tour of Greece.  We were both riding Cannondales at the time - I still had my T1000 that I picked up several years earlier, and Rachael had a fairly new T2000.

My Cannondale T1000, in Tasmania from our tour later in the year. I loved this bike for years, until I replaced it with the Rodriguez. Looking at it now, the frame really looks too large for me.
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Jacquie GaudetThat's how they fit them back then. At least you have some seat post showing. Al's old touring bike (1992 Miyata L1000) is now being used by our son, who's a couple of inches taller than his dad.
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3 months ago
At our ryokan in Kotohira (on Shikoku), from our tour of Japan the previous autumn. Rachael’s T2000 is the bike in front.
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I don’t remember anything at all about the leadup to this tour, but given where we each were in our careers I have no doubt that we were both deeply into software development projects and quite stressed out from preparing to leave the teams we each supervised for a month.  I think it’s probable also that we got to the airport from our downtown condo by taking the streetcar and MAX (our light rail system).  Yes, I’m sure we must have done that.That was our normal method for those years, and believe me it was no fun carrying our bagged bikes (the bags had a shoulder strap) and panniers at each of the connecting points - the two blocks from the streetcar stop to the MAX, and again from the MAX terminal at PDX to the flight check-in desk.

See, already I’m getting something back from writing up this tour!  I’d completely forgotten how awful it was toting those bags around.  I can feel the pain of the strap cutting into my shoulder now.

I don’t remember all that much about arrival in Rome either, except for the problem of managing the bicycles.  The Rome airport is at Fiumicino on the coast, about a 20 mile train ride away from the city.  I don’t recall for certain when we unbagged and assembled the bikes, but I think it was in Rome, after we shlepped our awkward luggage to the train terminal at the airport.

Once in Rome though, we definitely had unbagged the bikes before leaving the terminal.  I remember very clearly the experience of alternately walking and biking our bikes for several blocks through streets jammed with pedestrians, struggling to keep them under control with the folded bike bags balanced on top of the rear rack and flopping out widely on either side.  While jet-lagged and exhausted from the flight.

On our way from the Narita airport to our hotel. We could only fit one of the bikes into the trunk, so Rachael wore the other one for a few miles.
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We left Rome early the next morning to catch the train to Taranto on the Puglian coast.  We had to transfer trains somewhere along the way, I think in Lantina.  As I recall, there weren’t many connections possible that would allow bicycles and bring us to Taranto on the same day.  We made it though, arriving in Taranto after dark after an all-day ride on local trains that stopped at every small town along the way.  Our hotel was in the old town on artificial Taranto Island, across the canal from the train station.  I vaguely recall working our way to our hotel in the dark, mostly pushing our bikes on sidewalks because of the crowds and because we didn’t have lights.

Once we settled into our rooms we went back out for a walk along the waterfront in the deliciously warm evening air.  I remember Taranto fondly as being a surprisingly scenic spot, and I was sorry we wouldn’t be staying long enough to get a decent look at it.  Maybe next time.

The Aragonese Castle, Taranto
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On the waterfront, Taranto Island
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Steve Miller/GrampiesWhat fun to travel back in time. Maybe you will inspire us to dig out our (30 year) old handwritten journals of our earliest bike trips when our kids were in their teens, search out photos, and write them up here. But not until after our spring, and maybefall, European tours coming soon.
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3 months ago