from Cumbria
to Umbria by bike

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  by Allan Nelson & Konrad Orlowski 

Day 3 - Wednesday May 12th

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Poppi to Gubbio  (133 kms)

Poppi to Gubbio

We left Poppi at 9:45am and zoomed down onto the fairly busy road into Bibbiena where we turned left for a stiff little climb on the No 208 before it flattened out and we headed in the direction of Pieve San Stefano.  This was a lovely road, and very quiet, but it soon started to climb.  It was an overcast morning and before long we were up among the clouds. It turned out to be quite a slog.   We thought we'd eventually reached the top at Chiusi d'Verna, but that turned out to be a few kilometres further on at the Passo del Spino (1005m).  We stopped here and covered up for the long descent (after taking a photo by the sign for the pass as proof we'd made it!). It was quite cool when you stopped and the clouds  drifted across the road.  The descent was absolutely superb.  A good 10 kms of smooth surface and sweeping bends, until we reached Pieve San Stefano.  We took the windproofs off here, turned right and headed for Sansepolcro.  This road runs alongside the superstrada, so is very quiet, and as we set off, the sun appeared for the first time in the day.  There were one or two lumpy bits as we headed for Sansepolcro, but after that it was pretty easy going .  The sun was out with a vengeance now, and it was getting pretty hot.  We stopped at a place called Cerbara, just before Citta di Castello for some cafe latte and a doughnut, and amused ourselves watching a group of old chaps playing cards.  It sounded as though World War III was about to break out, but they seemed to be enjoying themselves.  They take their cards seriously over there!

The road through Citta di Castello was quite busy, but got a little better again to Umbertide.  We'd made good time on the road from Sansepolcro, regularly clocking 18-20mph.  At Umbertide we stopped at a garage to fill up the water bottles, then it was off, following the signs for Gubbio.  We passed through Umbertide where we turned left onto the SS219.  I'd expected this road to be quiet, but it was far from it.  There were lots of large trucks headed in both directions.  It was a steady gradient up for a few miles, then down, then up again.   As we neared Gubbio, the urban sprawl began, and the road surface deteriorated dramatically.  Very potholed, with broken edges.  The trucks were taking their toll.  Such a shame, it could have been a nice ride in but for the trucks and the surface!  The words in 'The Rough Guide to Tuscany and Umbria' which describe Gubbio came to mind as I rode.   "High, remote Gubbio....".  Well, it's high, and it's called Gubbio, but I think calling it remote is stretching a point.

We rode into the old town around 6pm, and booked into the Bosone Palace Hotel.  We got an apartment! (2 rooms) for L140,000 (well it had been a long day).  We asked for somewhere to keep the bikes and they suggested they'd be quite safe in the street outside the hotel, the receptionist reminding us that this was Gubbio.  We declined that offer, and took them up in the lift to the room with us (which caused not a little laughter).  Konrad had the larger room, so he got to sleep with the bikes.

After a shower, we found a restaurant nearby.   We fortunately soon realised that neither of us knew what the hotel was called, and with our sense of direction there was a good chance we'd never see the bikes again! So, we found somewhere close by.  Had a great meal of Bruschetta, Fillets of Beef and Ice-cream.  I was incredibly thirsty, and as well as the normal red wine intake, downed 2 very large Coke's.

sunflrbt.gif (1265 bytes) The ride from Bibbiena to Pieve San Stefano was great.  Shame about the weather, I imagine the views would be superb.  Brilliant descent from the Passo del Spino.
sunflrbt.gif (1265 bytes) Very disappointed with the ride from Umbertide to Gubbio on the SS219. I'd thought it was going to be more scenic and less busy.   Perhaps it was a bad time that we hit it (around 5pm) when all the truck drivers were going home!

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