Spirit of Adventure blog
Ajaccio & Olbia
Eastward we steamed, to the rugged island of Corsica and its pleasant western harbour town of Ajaccio on Saturday morning.
Snow still capped the distant mountains, but down on the golden beach-lined coast where we were it was quickly a pleasant temperature once the sun rose over the aforementioned mountain range of almost 9,000ft altitude to the east.
Corsica is a fine place for a cycle ride, with good quality winding mountain roads and minimal vehicular traffic. I therefore mapped out a circuit some 40km in length of pleasant looking road, with an estimated elevation of around 2,000ft to provide for a bit of a challenge and pre-attempt to counter my inevitable excess food intake during supper onboard later.
My ride commenced well, ascending steadily up into the hills north of Ajaccio, with periodic views down to the bay and our ship provided by occasional gaps in the pine & beech trees. However, at roughly the halfway mark, during a particularly steep climb section with a good sweat on, I discerned a slight sponginess on my rear wheel. I initially put this down to my rigorous pedalling and the fact that most of my weight would be upon the aft wheel during steep ascents – however over the course of the following 5 minutes or so it became gradually clearer that I had suffered a slow puncture. Had I taken a puncture repair kit with me? Of course not – “Oh Captain, you don’t need to worry about getting a puncture; those new thick, modern integrated tyres are almost puncture-proof” were the words iterated as I collected my bicycle prior to departing on an earlier venture with said machine.
I was eventually forced to dismount my steed at around the 22km mark – just over halfway into my planned circuit – just as the tyre became flat enough to make pedalling more tricky than walking. This presented me with a quandary – press on into the unknown, but with slightly less remaining mileage to cover on foot; or turn back where I knew that some 5km behind me there lay a small habitation with the likelihood of a bus stop.
Naturally, I pressed on, hoping for a bus stop or passing kind driver to present itself earlier – and indeed after descending a few miles to the coast I only had to wait for 15 minutes or so for a local bus to pass and take me with my deflated craft back to the port for a nominal fee. I definitely detected a smirk from the bus driver as he witnessed a sweaty ‘Anglais’ dragging a defective bicycle onto his bus from the mountains.
The next day we headed south to Olbia, a little pocket of wealth and natural beauty on the eastern coast of Sardinia. The weather was overcast, and that, along with work commitments, deterred me from attempting to re-mount my now well-repaired steed. However, feedback received from guests and colleagues who went ashore here was that it was also a delightful spot to visit.
Captain Kim Tanner
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