We find it hard to walk up some of the Sicilian hills, but there are indeed people who brave this by bike! Biking is a big sport here – there is an over 400km long cycling route along the Southern coast! Generally, you won’t see an Italian on a bike unless fully clad in Lycra, so when we see people in normal clothes, we know they are foreigners – or immigrant workers who use a bike not as an instrument of leisure but as an essential means of transport. On one of the beaches which we have to approach creeping down a steep hill with Emma in first gear, we meet Frank, a German, on tour for a few years now, having been to Spain, Portugal, France, Marrocco etc. He doesn’t seem to think much of transporting about 50kg of bike and luggage, plus himself, up and down these hills. He prefers mountains to wind – wind only takes away, he says, whereas a mountain will give back what it took. If you go up, you’ll come down again!
Then there is the beautifully shaped remake of a very old bike – a Pedersen – which his owner transports to nice places to go on a stroll with (that’s a bit more like what we are doing..).
One morning, we meet a Belgian family with two sons, aged 4 and 7, who’ve been on the road for 7 months now. They have everything with them to camp on beaches etc.
Last but not least, in San Vito lo Capo, one of the most far-flung places in Europe, we find Daniele, a bicycle magician, who repairs Frank’s broken spoke and does a maintenance check on my lovely dutch bike, a Gazelle. I trust him with it – he’d lived in Holland for a year!
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