The first time very Corsican and the second time rather spicy!!
Saturday 20th of October. Port of Marseille, facing the Kalliste, mv owned by La Méridionale, bound to take us to the Isle of Beauty. As to myself, I go to Corsica for 13 days .. A heavy job to come .. Don't mock me, just realise that 300 km a day for two weeks on Corsican roads is a quite exhausting exercise. But you would be right, it is nicer than work on a production line !!
Initially I had planned only one week trip, as I do for 8 years now, but the high demand forced me to double game, the more because I refuse to take more than 20 bikes in one time. So, a double edition seemed to me the only possibility.
First round I had decided to innovate. We would spend two days at Coti Chiavari's Hotel Belvedere, http://lebelvederecoti.com/belvederenvironnement.html, a place we know very well, and next we would head to the north of the island and lodge at Cateri's Hotel san Dume, address recommended to us and so to say equal to the place of our friend Jo … We wille come back to it later on !!
Three days in the south of the isla means visiting the unavoidable … the beach of Campomoro, the road from Sartene to Bonifacio, the baths of Baracci, the forest of Zonza, the St.Eustachius pass, the needles of Bavella and the down road to Porto Vecchio via Ospedale, Sta Lucia de Tallano, a pint with Orsoni, Bastelica and its processed meats, the Sanguine islands. Well, we missed the major part of the mountains, as snow had covered the place and most small roads got icy overnight. Riding in such conditions was out of question, and thus we had to improvise ... and so we did !!
Three days of wandering along the coast, sunbathing, visiting archaeological sites and surging wells, impregnating ourselves with the Corsican soul by strolling over the boulevards of Ajaccio … Corsica is so beautiful and diverse and there is always something to discover … and moreover, the roads that lead to it are a marvellous pleasure … What else can one ask for ? Warmth for sure, but no luck, this will be for next year !!
To reach the North we had to ride along the west coast … I do not describe to you the Calanques of Piana in the morning sunshine, the Bay of Porto, the reds of Girolata which cliffs fade at sunset in a turquoise water scenery. In order to reach Calvi I follow the coastline, a great time for a biker.
Cateri, superb place in a magical triangle : Calvi – Ile Rousse – Craftman's Road.
All of us have arrived … I will not mention the shelter and the food not to spoil the good impression of the site. The next day we start our visit of the North through the Désert des Agriates (it became over the last two years a true circuit for bikes, with a 34 km long superb tarmac road), followed by St.Florent and rounding Cap Corse…
The weather is changing for the worse, and we have to make our choice. Our option is the east coast through Bastia… We can see the isle of Elba … alas, after this we got into a downpour. Luckily the restaurant at Marcinaggio is open. The storm passes away and we proceed rounding Cape Corse as if nothing had happened. The better for us as we got only a few drops near Patrimonio. Back to Cateri through Ile Rousse, we arrive in the night.
Last day of the Corsica Tour, our aim is to get to Bastia through the Route des Artisans and part of the Castaniccia … After some 30 km along the mountainside the weather turns bad and we have to skip the second part of our programme. It was foreseen that the North would not favour us… Meal at Bastia, nothing to be criticised… Shopping for some of us, shelter for the others. At 18.00 hrs all of us on the ferry boat. Some soaked like a sponge, the first hotel would do… at 19.30 hrs I found myself in bed … tomorrow is another day.
I had in mind those who should have been deceived by the performance of the second hotel… In fact I was guilty not to have checked in advance the quality of the site, as I had been confident in the opinion of a professional who had recommended it … But anyhow this would not have changed anything ! I would have been received very well, and would have slept in the best available room … This happened more than once. Conclusion: for future Corsicas I will stay at the Belvedere of Coti Chiavari, where I am certain of what I will get. As to visiting the North of the Isle, I will combine this with arrival at and return to Bastia … This will make two journeys to join the port … One via Cape Corse, and the other via Castaniccia, the choice depending on the weather forecast !!
I had decided to explore the north of the island in order to find unknown routes and homes for lodging which could be charming stops for the future. This was going to be my job while awaiting the second group arriving at Propriano on Sunday morning.
It was a success, and you will have some fine surprises in the next Corsicas !!
Sunday, 08.00 in the morning … Second shift … They are flamboyant, in good condition, some ready to discover, others to confirm how are the Corsican roads in autumn … As to myself, I feel a bit less enthusiastic, and my rear tyre shows some signs of weakness !!
Its funny to find oneself in an interval of a week with totally different persons. This was the first time it happened, and I must say the experience is not uninteresting. Each individual has a different perception of the world he moves in and on the matter of biking in such a favourable environment as is the Isle of Beauty, I encountered quite some surprises.
The first group was composed of quiet individualists who essentially wanted to visit and to enjoy within their own rhythm. The second group was quite another story, more like a madness in swallowing miles, whatever happened, whatever the circumstances. The one who does not listen, who laughs at the evening briefing. The one who may be repatriated the next day by Europ Assistance. Well, that was the lot I met.
To me the unavoidable duty to count the incoming bikes every evening, and the more unpleasant feeling of being watched as a bird of ill omen when dispensing some advice of caution. Anyway it had to happen, and so we did.
This raid took place under protection of our Lady of Bavella …Nobody went down … I felt this as a miracle. We had to improvise somehow with the road books because of the whimsical weather conditions. Finally we had only one half day of rainfall, bad luck as it was the day chosen to visit the chalanques at Piana .. Nevertheless, even under the rain Piana is magic. The flock of furious riders took advantage to ride north along the coast, the come back over the centre, following the rain and the mist !!! Some pleasures overtake me … and some risks fill me with dismay … But things are what they are: a total freedom in adapting the road-books … As far as I am informed, there is no problem: I should have imagined from the start the most foolish solutions to be certain to stay close to the route of the furious ones!!
So I spent five days under the total apprehension of a phone call that would spoil the raid… and compel me to a series of more or less annoying formalities. I do not know if they were pleased with Corsica, I hope they do, but I am utterly convinced they know only the tarmac lane ahead of their front wheel. It is another way to live a bikers raid, but I confess I prefer bikers on a tour over deferred casualties. It is less stress for the one who carries the responsibility of the organisation!!
I cannot do anything to them but lower my hat … but for how long ???
During this second raid I happily stayed in the same hostel, only one base for the week. When the quality of the lodging is known, there is no reason to go elsewhere !! The programme of the raid was renewed some way, taking unknown routes, inaugurating new itineraries and enjoying new pauses.
This second raid was a success indeed. Every one found his due. I confess having abandoned some who would have appreciated me riding with them, and I am very sorry about it … We will a next time. But here, may be the first time in ten years of experience, I confess my impression of having permanently walked a tightrope. And if ever I find myself in an identical position with tis sort of handlebar wringers, I will feed the budget with an armful of candles in order to avoid any problems on the spot !!
Season 2007 is over, nothing worth mentioning, a happy majority of participants. What else is there to demand ???
See you in 2008. I leave on holiday now.