Minus the wind and the trucks, plus some rain

12. Mai 2016 § Hinterlasse einen Kommentar

Yesterday ended with a mountain arrival, not quite of Tour de France proportions (Alpe d’Huez!), but still it was another reminder that each cycling day presents its multiple challenges. If they didn’t come unpremeditated and one by one, I might easily give vent to the frustrated rhetorical question of why I’m doing all of this, every year, for the sixth year running.

As I pedal along, I find myself negotiating with fickle fate: what if I could trade in the currently blowing headwind and the relentless traffic of articulated trucks for aspell of rain? The deal works, and I bear an hour’s worth of scattered rain and dodge the wind behind the hedgerows; the trucks have miraculously turned off towards an industrial site or port. As always, there is never total respite from all of the scourges of the cyclist. And Corsica as well as Sardinia have only granted me minutes of what would be the unencumbered joy of riding with your head held high above the car roofs. Yet one of the pleasures on this leg is remembering the earlier times I came out to these islands, in 1983 on a guided trek across Corsica’s highest mountain ranges (covering most of the GR 20 hiking route), and later with a car, a large tent and our two lovely girls to camp on beaches and in pine forests, while in Sardinia the two of us were only once, back in 1987, with big backpacks, using public transport, a great and important try-out of what would become a thirty-year relationship.

Anyway, the last 6 km from Gúspini to Arbus at 380 m wasn’t as tough as the Kaiserjägersteig (2011) or the serpentines back of Kotor (2013), still some parts literally took my breath away. I silently praised Marshall Tito’s civil engineers for evening out their gradients better than their Italian counterparts.

Arbus is not a great hub for a fun night at large. When I arrive, two funerals are on their slow way towards the cemetery, one closely following the other, with a moment of silent confusion as they had to decide which will enter by which gate. The Mercedes hearses are probably the most precious possessions of this mountain town, which once counted 13’000 inhabitants to its 6000 at present. There is no work, emigration has taken its toll, as the old man explains to me who kindly walks me to the B&B place I’d never have found by myself. The main street is a defilee of shuttered shops and drawn blinds. At least the people here die old: one of the deceased had lived to the age of 97. What is it that makes Sardinians grow so old despite tough lives, I ask; the water, the food, the fresh air? The good olive oil, the old man says, and la famiglia.

The main drag of Arbus on a Wednesday evening

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