We assemble at six the night before kick off, for a briefing and to receive our bikes. We are told the hotels on our route are tasked with raising the alarm if we don’t turn up by 7 pm. With Google maps and my team having Google locator, we won’t be getting lost. If I leave to go “home” on my own they track me to make sure I make it! Which is a bit spooky, but fine if you actually do get lost.
The very comprehensive bike clues talk of picnics and snakes. We discover that there are two other people who are doing the same tour as us, English and in their 60s. They waste no time in discovering where we all come from. Dawn and Phil say they live in Canada, I say I come from London. Oh we just moved to Crouch End they say, in a tone that suggests they have just moved to the centre of the universe, where do you come from, “Covent Garden” I reply and their faces deflate. Ask if I’m travelling on my own and I say “no I’m travelling with these two,” which seems to fox them, maybe because my team are a bit younger or maybe from a different continent. Either way I’m not warming to them and have no wish to prolong the conversation.
They then don’t like the bikes because they don’t have an odometer to tell them how far they have travelled and they take themselves off in a huff for dinner. They then present themselves at breakfast the following morning looking like they’ve just escaped from the Tour de France, and complain that there is no porridge! I Wiki to see where porridge is available and I find it in English speaking countries Germany and Nordic places. So not Sicily then!
I’m pleased to say we don’t see them again until day 3.
The expansive clues for the days ride, give three options the baby bears ride the mother bears ride or the daddy bears ride. 17k, 31k, or 42k. Ragusa is a divided town astriding two hilltops. From our hotel it is down a long long way and so steep we get off and walk a little, scoot past the disused railway station and then up what is described as a “short climb”. This was a euphemism for a long steep heart-stopping precipitous climb. My ebike took a lot of the strain and frankly without it I wouldn’t be doing this stuff.
It has 4 options eco, tour, sport and best of all turbo! It had enough juice to last the day and I had 40% left. This bodes well as the next 4 rides are between 40/49 k.
The rest of the ride was across a wheat plateau, the harvest already in, drying in the sun, before a steep descent into Modica. A total of 31k!
Saturday is a day off and we have a 2 star Michelin restaurant to visit for lunch, back from where we came in Ragusa! A trifle nuts. We were booked in 2 days ago, Dawn was feeling unwell so cancelled. As we were biking out of Ragusa she got an email saying they would be billing her due to the short cancellation notice. Fortunately we were near the restaurant so she did her stuff popped in and schmoozed them and we go the next day instead. After our rest day we have 3 days cycling on the trot before another day off in Noto.
Dawn and Phil don’t like their bikes. They’ve done other cycling trips before so know the ropes, and don’t feel their bikes are up to snuff. I suspect Dawn would really like a bike like mine, she says not saying she wants the exercise, there are none available anyhow and new normal bikes arrive and everyone is happy.
42k day two gets us to Marina Modica and a country hotel with a pool, my room has a lovely terrace, and Phil finds 3 glasses of fizz to celebrate our arrival. Tomorrow it is a 49k ride. My bum is now beginning to complain and from 8.30 am the hotel says there will be no electricity! This doesn’t bode well for showering or coffee and breakfast in bed apparently isn’t an option.
My ebike is giving conflicting info lots of juice but little k in travel time, so Sebi our team mechanic brings me a new bike. 9 gears, shock absorbers and only a few weeks old. It goes like a train. Marina Di Modica to Portopalo is nowhere to nowhere with the addition of a few flamingos, pretty countryside oodles of olive trees and all manner of other things found in the countryside. The miserable pair we met earlier, also staying here have disappeared early, I overhaul them later 3k short of our destination. I say good morning as I overtake them. He says “ you found the way then”. Thus confirming my initial impressions.
I find an amazing lunch, discover I’ve stolen the last hotel key, which is posted back, and then retire for a shower and snooze. Three days down two to go. Legs still working, but my rear end is complaining. Noto tomorrow more UNESCO stuff and we have a rest day there. Hurrah!
Lunch at the Locanda Don Serafino a Relais and Chateau joint all very troglodytic and hewn out of the rock-face.