Monday 25 April 2016

Day 4, Urbino to Ancona - And the Sun Shone

For me, the last day of a tour is always one of mixed emotions. Satisfaction at the prospect of completing the ride. A chance to reflect on times enjoyed and times endured. The pleasure and pain of an experience shared with new friends. And with a great group like ours, a certain sadness about the imminent parting of ways. So I had a slightly heavy heart as we gathered together for our final Grand Depart.

The weather forecast was good and getting better. There were even rumours of sunshine to lift our spirits. And if yesterday’s word of the day was “epic” today's would be “stunning”. We were soon underway and after a minor Garmin moment (cycling readers will understand this term) we were back on track and heading sharply upwards. The climbing challenge was compounded by the gravelly road surface and with wheel spin, maintaining forward motion was an interesting experience. I eventually reached the top of the climb unscathed and puncture free and somewhat out of breath. Fortunately, smooth tarmac lay ahead.

The next ten miles or so were along an undulating road through a magnificent forest with semi mature pines on the higher slopes and mixed deciduous trees lower down.  The area was rich in wildlife and I was delighted to catch a glimpse of a Hoopoe which flew across the road in front of me and landed high in a pine tree where I could see its distinctive crest and long bill silhouetted against the sky. There were some stunning views through the trees as we gradually descended. These together with the gradual appearance of the sun made for exhilarating riding.

All too soon we were dropping down intro the Metauro valley at Fossombrone where Amanda and Martyn were waiting. I was paying close attention today so there was no chance of missing them. From Fossombrone we rode into much more open countryside with rolling hills each capped by a succession of ever more beautiful villages and small towns. I made a mental note to return and explore the area further if the chance arises. Although none of the hills we rode over was especially high the number of them in rapid succession was quite strength sapping.

Our final leg into Ancona was carefully chosen by Kim our tour leader to avoid the busy roads that approached the city. Although for some of the group this meant a few more hills it did mean that we could ride in without too much concern about the traffic. We all joined up at the edge of the city and rode in to Ancona together just as we had started four days ago in Livorno.

The approach to the hotel involved riding along the spectacular Viale Della Vittoria with the Monumento ai Caduti at its end. As we rode up the to the end the church bells started ringing and the large crowds were cheering. What a stunning way to end a stunning day. Well, if the truth is to be told the cheers were for a football match but we can always dream!

Miles ridden: 74; Total 259 miles

Climbing 6,541 feet; Total: 20,379 feet

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