Stage 21: Lido Campomarino to Lesina

Distance: 32.1 km

Time: 1 hour 26 minutes

Speed: 22.4 km/h

Ascent: 108 metres

Total distance: 1137.1 km

Total time: 60 hours 15 minutes

Wordle scores: Captain 3, Stoker 4

Word of the day: “Alba” (al-bah) – sunrise

The Captain writes:

After our arrival at Lido Campomarino I spent some time cleaning the tandem, as it was covered in dust and grot from the gravel tracks and roads of the previous few days. Our hosts had advised us to store it inside so we wheeled it in and it sat proudly in front of the television (which we won’t be needing any more as the Tour de France is over for another year). It does look a lot better after my ministrations.

In the evening we shared a delicious Pizza alla Boscaiola on Lido Campomarino’s busiest street, where the evening passeggiata seemed to be taking place on bicycles (rather than on foot, as is the normal custom). And so to bed.

On our rest day we spent the morning inside, sheltering from the steadily increasing temperatures. We did venture out to order a rotisserie chicken for the evening meal, and decided that we’d try the beach in the afternoon.

It being Monday, the beach was less busy. We rented an umbrella and two loungers and headed straight into the sea which, strangely, was marginally cooler than last time we tried it in Pineto, despite the higher air temperatures. After lunch we had a second dip in, with the air temperature fast approaching 45°C, which is hotter than either of us has experienced before. When the wind was blowing it felt like a warm hairdryer on the skin. Deciding that we’d had enough heat for one day we headed back to the cool air-conditioned apartment.

We set the alarm for 5am, aiming to be breakfasted and on the road by 6am. While this would mean arriving ridiculously early in Lesina, it would also mean that we wouldn’t have to cycle in temperatures much above 33°C. It’s the last day of the heatwave, and we’ll be glad to see the back of it!

It was 6.05 when we actually set off, but that’s good enough! It was quite a weird morning – cloudy, windy and oppressive, as we pedalled out into the empty streets of Lido Campomarino and worked our way onto the SS16.

While it formed most of today’s route, we won’t be seeing this road again until we have completed our trip around the Gargano peninsula.

Most of today’s cycling was mundane – we sat in the “cycle lane” to the right of the carriageway, on very straight flat roads through largely featureless terrain. We were fast though, as a cross-tailwind was giving us a little assistance – at one point we were cruising along for a while in top gear, at 31 kilometres per hour.

As we passed from Molise into Puglia we could see the hills of the Gargano rising to the east. This peninsula forms the spur on Italy’s heel, and is a karst (limestone) landscape, with a spectacular coastline. It’s going to be pretty hilly but, now that the temperatures are returning to normal, we don’t mind that a bit – it will mean we get some fine views.

For today though, we turned off the SS16 onto the provincial road leading us into Lesina, past a farm where fire was raging (presumably as a result of the heatwave) – a barn had been destroyed and the fields immediately around it were black and smoking.

We spotted our first buffalo herd of the trip – perhaps we will have some fresh mozzarella today.

Shortly afterwards we pedalled through the sleepy streets of Lesina into the centro storico (passing a petrol station branded Garg’ Oil!) and found our B&B.

Miraculously, although it wasn’t yet 8am, our room was ready. This was a great relief as we wouldn’t have to wait around all day to check in. We should have plenty of time to have a look around – Lesina is situated on a peninsula jutting northward into a lagoon called the Lago di Lesina, and is famous for its anguille (eels!).

Tomorrow our destination is Rodi Garganico, our last “flat” day for a while.

Here’s today’s route and a short video.

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