Lloyd's Cycling Club Tour 2014: Day Two

Lloyd's Cycling Club Tour 2014: Day Two

A beautiful Mediterranean morning welcomed us as we set off on the second day of our journey. The sun was rising over the hills and casting a gentle light over the beaches to our left. Although early, the heat was already evident but the road flat and the wind light.

Four of us set off before the others, put our heads down and worked efficiently to kill miles. A desire to start the recovery after the day's121 mile ride and before the next day's 111 miler drove us forward.

Turns in the road opened up wondrous vistas along to coast but our eyes were focused on the road ahead, or more particularly darting between our GPS devices and the seat post of the rider in front or looking out for potholes or traffic or squinting to see light at the end of innumerable tunnels.

Occasionally the GPS route directed us away from the main road but, knowing that the lunch restaurant was on the main road, we kept to it, shaving a few miles off our target without any embarrassment or regret.

Italians greeted us in a way that was unusual for cyclists from Britain. Policemen waved when, in England, they simply issue fixed penalty notices or, at best, patronise. In a cafe where we stopped for coffee and water, people asked enthusiastically about our journey and applauded us. This is a country where cycling is part of the culture.

Even the horror stories one hears about Italian drivers have not materialised. All give us ample space and are considerate. Cycling in Italy is a treat. Well, so it appeared in the morning.

We reached the restaurant in great time having covered the first 70 miles (well give or take the "efficiency" we had achieved by staying on the main road) and ate swiftly and with gusto. Morale was high. None of the others had arrived by the time we had left although, ominously, the van received a call to prepare the spare bike.

We left feeling full and with the sun hitting its zenith. Sweat poured down our brows and onto our GPS devices as we hit the first hill of the day. My Garmin showed a left turn but others were ahead and suggested my Garmin had gone haywire again. Heads down, we rode on. After 1,400 feet we reached the summit and the realisation that we had gone wrong.

Discussion ensured. We descended those 1,400 feet. One of our number, a senior market figure asked for a break and we, and the passing police car were somewhat amazed by what he then did. What it was should probably remain forever behind that hedge.

We climbed the next hill. The right hill. Tough but at least the sun was obscured by cooling clouds.

We descended and, now uncertain about GPS devices, we stopped to check directions. A faster group who had started later caught us and we rode together for a while. After we left them, we realised once again, we had taken wrong turning.

Amazingly tempers remained cool. Finally receiving directions from some policemen, we found ourselves again en route, chasing the setting sun. We finally eased into the Hotel Magic just as darkness came.

131 miles and 8,000 feet of climbing. A little more than we should have done and we were very relieved for our short cut earlier in the day.

Our story turned out not to be the most dramatic. Broken bikes and exhausted riders and, as I write, well after dark, a couple of riders still out on the road.

Tomorrow is another day. Not long enough to recover in preparation. 111 miles to ride and the itinerary.

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