Distance: 87.7 km
Time: 4 hours 22 minutes
Average speed: 20.1 kph
Cumulative distance: 3253.37 km
Cumulative time: 164 hours 35 minutes
Phrase of the day: ‘vento contrario’ (ven-toe con-trah-ree-oh) – headwind
We really enjoyed our time at the house in Marina di Ragusa. It was located just above the main part of town, in a very tranquil area, and the house was lovely. Its most unusual feature was a kitchen entirely outdoors! The whole kitchen was on the patio, there was even a television out there.
We sat outside all evening, and the temperature abated a little, but it was still incredibly warm even at 10pm. This morning the jasmine perfumed the air, almost eclipsing the aroma of our cycling shoes. Almost.
We dropped down into the Piazza Duca degli Abruzzi for breakfast. It was a place very popular with the older male residents of Marina di Ragusa who had congregated for a chinwag.
They were a great bunch, several of them engaged us in conversation as we were leaving after breakfast, “if one of you pedals, can the other one not pedal?”, “where are you going?”, and most sweetly “I’m 94, I really like bicycling, can I come with you?”.
We headed out, knowing that today would be a long one, mostly flat but a lot of kilometres to put behind us. It started really well, past the modern harbour on a very good cycle path, part of the SIBIT route we’re still mostly following.
We cycled for a while in ‘polytunnel land’ – acres of them, although they are mostly empty, seemingly cropped and done, and all squared away for the season. It seems odd, you’d think there would be more growing they could do. Perhaps it’s just too hot, or maybe there’s not enough water to irrigate.
There was a brief pause to let a flock of sheep cross the road. It was just like being at home!
You can see polytunnels in the picture too, and the back of a three-wheeled ‘Ape’ truck, pronounced ‘ah-pay’, which means ‘bee’. It’s the sound they make, in the same way as there is a scooter brand named ‘Vespa’, which means ‘wasp’. Ape trucks are hugely popular in many parts of Italy, particularly in farming or agricultural areas, they are a great way to transport the spoils of a smallholding to market, for example. On the tandem we can hear them coming up behind us (bzzzzzzzzz), and they take ages to pass, because they don’t have much power!
After the sheep were safely across we continued, marvelling at the sheer aridity of the landscape. The walls are sort of dry-stone, but in the palest of colours, and although there are patches of cultivation, there are a lot of dusty dry areas.
Seeing the sea, as here in Scoglitti, the blue is something of a shock after the green and yellow palette.
There were some wind surfers out in the bay. A warning, of sorts…
We joined the SS115, and suddenly we were cycling into the teeth of a strong headwind, which was very tiring. We had planned to push on to Gela for lunch, but it was very hard work. We stopped frequently to drink water, and watched the SIBIT signs for Gela count down the kilometres. We passed a huge oil refinery, and some industrial grot, and then finally hit the lungomare and found a café for lunch. Panini, loads of water, coke, juice, and a peach granita did the trick.
With still over 30km to Licata, we climbed wearily back on and rejoined the SS115. The wind was terrible, at one point the road curved around and we practically ground to a halt. It was so dry and dusty, we stopped every 10km or so for water, but it wasn’t enjoyable really, just very hard work. We were keeping up a reasonable speed somehow, imagine how fast we’d have been without the headwind!
The landscape was almost completely washed of colour. Yellow. Only yellow.
Eventually our turnoff appeared, and we left the main road with some relief. A final wiggly five kilometres and we were ringing the bell of tonight’s apartment. Our host, seeing our rather pink and dessicated look, quickly poured glasses of cold water and waited patiently while we guzzled them!
We’re absolutely shattered. It was the longest day on the trip so far, and something of an endurance test in the last thirty kilometres. But we passed the test, and what’s more, we’ve gone over the two thousand mile mark today. Two thousand miles! How did that happen?
Here’s today’s track.