-Adapted from a piece of Riccardo Corsetto on bikechannel (in Italian)-
Looking for an inspiration for the spring break? Here is an idea if you have fuel in your legs:
le Tour de Corse
For somebody holidays mean relax , for others tour de force, or rather : Tour de Corse. As in the case of 5 romansin their thirties that have chosen to make the tour of Corsica by bike in a week, it was last summer, August 2013.
818 kilometers in seven days, crossing the island from north to south in the mountainous hinterland and biking back along the west coast . Bastia , Corte , Zonza, Porto Vecchio , Bonifacio, Ajaccio, Porto, Calvi, Saint Florent, Bastia, Cap Corse and more . More than 110 kms a day, with a total vertical drop of 8,500 meters, to climb above the sea level with extra 15kilos bagagges to carry on the bike. On their shirts it was stamped “Buddies for Corsica” and the map showing the route planned by Matteo, aka “speed triple ” for biking mostly with third crown which facilitates the uphill pace. Providential habit , everybody must admits, as the island is full of climb. Indeed, Corsica “is a mountain just in the middle of the sea”. If you realize, the spectacular Col de Verghiu , with its ski slopes at 1500 meters above sea level , is just 20 km linear from the sea !!
Where to stay ? Simple, in one o f the many the campsites along the way. Be equipped with tends and sleeping bags onboard. “Eventually we got used to sleep on the ground, is not the best to regain energy after a day of eight to ten hours of cycling, but after a while we got used” the buddies ensured.
A few essential clothing , and a couple of camping stoves for cooking”. Rice (risotto, Italian style) is a favourite meal, light and rich carbs load, easy to prepare and gives the right amount of energy for the following day biking session. On top of this, bread and honey at will!
On a trip like this you have to be careful to eat the right things , and especially eating them in the most opportune times
When cycling up to thirteen hours a day, nutrition becomes fundamental to avoid to get stuck in places where you may encounter nothing but rocks and wild animals. “Just like in the leg of the Court Zonza , the hardest of the trip” . With its 130km and quite a few hills to climb: Col de Belle Granaje , Col de Sorba , Col de Verde and Col de Vaccia , with an aggregate of 30 kilometers at 6% climbing grade. Roads spectacular , breathtaking gorges and vertiginous canyon where in July was held for, the first time in the history, a leg of the Tour de France.
“It ‘ a journey that can’t deal with those who have less than three thousand kilometers in the legs”, but in the end the effort is amply rewarded by the spectacular places. The “steps of Santa Regina ” by bike gives you so much satisfaction than on motorbike or car. You only need to pay close attention to the driving ,as for the cliffs at the roadside and the free grazing of animals encountered frequently. Wild pigs and cows occupy the roadway frequently in the mountains.
The most exclusive place on the island ? The gorges of la Spelunca take your breath away, along the road that leads from Ajaccio to Portu , nothing to envy to Monte Destino , “the center of power of Sauron”, quoted in the trilogy of The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien. Especially for those who like them have the coincidence to visit it at sunset. You will discover a place that is worth on itself all the effort of the trip . From the historical and cultural point of view the must see place is certainly Corte, the ancient capital where the national hero of the courses, Pasquale Paoli, ” father of the nation ” , founded in the mid- 700 the Government of the Republic, with the relative State Mint, Court and University. When away from the sea, you can find relief in the many fresh river streams and mountain lakes. You will find the assistance of the locals along the path; it ‘ easy to run out water in August but along the way you will always find some good Samaritan, and despite the Corsi are considered tough and closed in attitude .
On the way to Bastia, to return to Livorno in Italy, the fatigue was great, but not enough to stop a first hint of nostalgia for those wild places . Visited and lived so intensely and freely, breath by breath,one meter at a time along all the eight hundred thousand five hundred meters of ascents and descents Corsica is a special experience. When the ship sets sail , the island gets smaller and smaller . On the horizon you can see the island of Capraia first and then Elba. But the “Buddies for Corsica” already think of their distant island and the wildest.
THE V ROMANS:
“In a year we go Iceland , of course, always with vélo , as the French say . Those bikes that go to risotto , water and sweat and make the sound of the wind”