Corsica-Sardinia, Day 4

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Monday, April 30th

It has been raining during the night but after a very good breakfast it’s dry again. We track back part of yesterday’s route over peculiar roundabouts that can be ridden legally at 70km/h (45mph) whereas all other roads in town have a 50km/h (30mph) limit. Soon we reach the wonderfully winding but still-damp D55. At Zicavo we turn south and are in a good mood to take on the Col de la Vaccia. Our only trouble is that the tarmac is missing.

The pass road has been ripped up by construction works so we have to ride a mix of wet sand and gravel, riddled with water-filled potholes. Nice. There are only cyclists and motorcyclists here. Other, more sensible people have found alternatives. We have no idea how long this is going to take, so we just press on. To our great joy it starts raining again and soon it turns into a serious downpour. It takes about half an hour of concentrated riding until we arrive at the village of Aullène, which doesn’t have a single paved road either. I start wondering whether we missed a turn somewhere and ended up in far eastern Russia. The bikes look a mess. Markus looks like a pig with his back and backpack full of mud. The shortened tail of his Monster didn’t help much here.

There is a small restaurant in the village that is apparently only visited by motorcyclists. The granny owning the shop across the street tries to talk to us. Markus tells her that he doesn’t understand her. That doesn’t bother her and she keeps on talking. It seems that she wants to convince us of not going into the restaurant. We ignore her for a while and go in anyway. We are received by a very friendly Hunchback of the Notre-Dame and relax with some coffee before attempting to ride further down to Quenza.

The road gets better and wider and soon we’re enjoying a dry ride through the forest to the Col de Bavella. It stays dry until we arrive at the crest but rain and fog return almost immediately on the way down. We have to return here some day when it’s dry and ride this lovely winding road in the opposite direction. The younger piggies at the road side are scared much more easily (wheelspin style) than the older ones, probably because they don’t know yet that passing traffic can be safely ignored. The problem of pig dementia is illustrated by a pig that is first scared by me and a few seconds later by Markus, after which it slips into a ditch. We dodge some more pigs, dogs and pine cones for the next 20km (13mi) until we’re in Solenzara at sea level.

We have no better excuse for cleaning the bikes at a self lavage than that the photos of the trip look nicer this way. Markus takes the opportunity to check the oil on the Monster and it could use some. There is none here so we continue to Porto-Vecchio which is very full of tourists although the season has yet to start. Refreshed by some italian ice cream we take on the last leg to Bonifacio. The road from Porto-Vecchio past Sotta and Figari is very fast, or rather the traffic on that road. I do manage to notice a speed camera just after overtaking a truck. Whew!

After circling the rock on which the old town of Bonifacio is built, we choose Hotel Le Roy d’Aragon as our place to stay for the night. This is a good choice because we get a fine room with a view of the harbor. We have an extensive photo shoot in this picturesque town and find a restaurant with the curious name L’an K in the old town. We tell the waiter that we’d like to taste a bit of the charcuterie Corse (local smoked ham) and he brings us enough to choke a lion. It’s very good though, as is the Pietra beer.

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