Gioia del Colle - Policoro 77.8kms 329’ ascent
A fabulous start to the day. A very quiet road winding its way over a plain of karst. Everthing was much greener than nearer the coast and we saw the first cows we have seen since reaching this part of Italy. The sun was hot but not at its zenith as the hour was still quite early. For an hour or so we pedalled gently enjoying the rolling countryside. Without much warning, we found ourselves leaving the plateau and descending rapidly back down to the coastal flats where the temperature soared and there was a great temptation to run among the vines which were being irrigated from suspended hoses. It was only the unknown source of the water that prevented the taking of a shower.
Our onward route left us with no choice except to take to the main road. The white heat was building and this was a road for vehicles with no shade and interminable tarmac. The steel roadside barriers were radiating heat and even the metal of our bikes was too hot to touch. Never have overhead bridges been quite so welcome and, although in short supply, they provided sufficient shade for a short rest and a drink. We visited every service station to take on fluids and collapse onto benches where we provided some amusement for the locals who viewed our antics with some incredulity. This section of our journey may well require a heads down and think of ‘not a lot’ as the heat is apparently set to continue and our route improves only in short sections. Nevermind, we will battle on and continue to enjoy and recover in the air conditioned hotels we have, so far, managed to find. Don’t even think of a tent!