Distance: 53.42 km
Time: 3 hours 4 minutes
Speed: 17.4 km/h
Ascent: 459 metres
Descent: 900 metres!
Total distance: 713.72 km
Total time: 37 hours 51 minutes
Wordle scores: Captain 3 and 5, Stoker 4 and 4
Word of the day: “Ondulate” (on-du-lah-teh) – undulating
The Captain writes:
The cable car up to the centro storico of San Marino took only five minutes and the panoramic views from the top were stunning.
To the north, south and west the Apennines dominate the view, in serried ridges fading into the distance.
To the east the hills quickly fade away down to the coastal plain. The view was fairly hazy in that direction but we could make out Rimini and just about see the Adriatic behind it.
As for San Marino itself, it sits atop a ridge, with parallel streets dropping down vertiginously in a south-westerly direction. The ridge is topped by three towers above the steep cliffs we could see as we rode in. It’s clearly a wealthy place, and it seems to be the place to go if you want to buy leather goods, jewellery, guns, knives or crossbows😬. None of these will fit in our panniers, of course, so we passed on by.
We dined well on Tuesday evening next to one of the city gates, then returned on Wednesday to walk along the ridge between the towers and then return through the town, stopping at the museum.
It was cloudy to start with, something we welcomed after a series of hot and humid days, but in the afternoon the sun emerged once more and the temperature rose quickly. In the evening we had a final meal on a terrace set above the now-familiar streets and piazze and enjoyed watching the sun go down over the Apennines.
We awoke this morning to the sound of church bells, which during our stay have counted out the hours and quarter-hours between 7am and midnight. Despite their proximity to our lodgings we’ve mostly managed to sleep through their musical chimes, probably through tiredness! Anyway, after breakfast (delivered to the door from the café across the road; delicious!) we saddled up and pedalled off.
It goes without saying that the first part of our journey was downhill. It was pretty steep, actually, and the frequent hairpin bends slowed us down considerably and meant that we were often on the brakes. The roads were quiet, and we had excellent views back to the cliffs and castles of San Marino.
Eventually the gradient slackened off a little and we were able to let the tandem run. There followed a hugely enjoyable section where we were travelling at high speed (up to 68 kph apparently 😁) along quiet straight roads. For a while we took turns at leading with a solo rider who was following the same route. Eventually the downhill gradient disappeared and he pedalled off ahead, cheerily thanking us for the company.
We had noticed when planning today’s route that it wasn’t all downhill. In fact it had 459 metres of climbing, not far off the 605 metres we achieved when climbing to San Marino. It was divided into five climbs, three of which were in the early part of the day. They were steep, too – one of today’s climbs was certainly the longest steep climb we’ve tackled on this trip so far, and left us gasping for breath as we reached the top. Here’s a picture of our ‘summit faces’!
Near the town of Misano Adriatico we began to hear the distinctive sound of racing cars. Sure enough we soon saw the circuit up ahead. Later research established that it was the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, which will host this year’s San Marino Grand Prix in September. Today there was some touring car racing going on, so we stopped for a while and watched through the chain-link fence.
After a none-too-pleasant transit of the town of Cattolica (busy traffic, car fumes, endless roundabouts) we turned with some relief onto minor roads, using a route planned by the Stoker yesterday which cleverly avoided use of the SS16. It was quite intricate, and included the two final climbs of the day, but it was infinitely preferable to riding on state roads. To our left as we climbed the first hill we could see the impressive Castella di Gradara, and a cheerful “piccolo treno” which was taking visitors on a tour.
One more climb, then, and we were into the outskirts of Pesaro, using the bicycle lanes (piste ciclabile) as often as possible, though as usual they were of variable quality – in fact one of them was completely closed off, forcing us to turn back and re-plan. Soon enough, though we found ourselves at our lodgings. Rather too soon, in fact, as we established that they would not be ready for us for another three hours or so. So this entry is being written at a friendly café while we have a late lunch, after which we may well wander down to the beach – we still haven’t really made close acquaintance with the Adriatic!