Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Pollina - a solo attempt

Monday 29th February 2016

Deb from the Hymer a couple of pitches down enquired if anyone would like to walk to the small weekly market in Finale. It soon became apparent that it was going to be a predominantly female outing, so I decided to opt out, on the basis that Gill is well used and I presume resigned to my miserable failure as a shopper, but others may not be so understanding. Instead I decided to attempt to cycle to the nearby hill village of Pollina. Without becoming too academic about this, it is necessary to define a few terms at the outset, namely - 'nearby' 'hill' and 'attempt'. 

The full name of the local village is Finale di Pollina the suffix referring to the hill-top town perched above it on a rocky outcrop. As the crow flies it is nearby, probably about two and a bit kilometres; by road it's 11 km. Which brings us to the question of the 'hill'. Pollina is on a Sicilian hill, but at 731 metres, by English standards that would definitely count as a mountain. Which inevitably brings us to the final area of contention, my attempt to cycle there. 

Pollina - 2kms direct, 11kms by road...
I really was uncertain if I could manage this. The road to Pollina snakes upwards, 2400 feet in a little under 7 miles to be imperial about it. Although there are no really steep hills it climbs relentlessly, finally reaching the town in a series of zig-zagging hairpin bends. On a conventional bike I would have had no chance, and even with the pedalec kicking in, lowest gear and maximum power, it pushed my stamina to the limit to haul 93kg of me and 26kg of ebike all the way to the top. 

The magic of ebikes

But I made it, and the day was glorious and the weather classic clear blue Med and the road empty, with a view to the south of mountains flecked with snow, and northwards across a deep blue sea to the wispy grey Aeolian Islands afloat on the horizon. Early spring is so lovely here, the roadsides full of flowers, dark green olive groves punctuated bright green as various nut and fruit trees lose their blossom and come into leaf. So what did I do? I stopped at almost every corner and took photographs galore in the vain hope that I could bottle-up the magic light and carry it home to greyer northern climes.


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