I decided to cross the Gargano mountains. The roads around the peninsula reminded me of the Croatian coast, with reports of steep, narrow roads, and drivers going way too fast. Over the top looked less traveled. 30 km as the crow flies, routing a path suggested 80-90 km.
I failed. I knew the roads would be steep, and I realized after a couple of switchbacks I would spend much of the day walking. No thanks.
45 km of cycling, and I returned to within 10 km of where I started the day, prepared to cut across the peninsula at the edge of the mountains. As apparent penance, my retreat followed large highway until I rounded the corner of the mountains. Where the headwinds began. I completely understand how JD covered 175 km; for much of the next 50 km I ground forward at 11 kph. On flat roads.
While I followed flat secondary roads after that, the mountains stalked me all day, looming above me to my right. It wasn’t until Apricena that the winds died down. The mountains remained.
By Apricena I was down to my last half-liter of water, with 30 km to go before reaching the coast again, and the closest campground. When I rolled in, the sidewalks in the small village were rolled up for their mid-afternoon siesta. I asked someone working on their car for water. Not only did he fill my water bottles from his faucet, he also insisted I take a two-liter bottle of water (4.4 lbs). Very kind.
Tired, on the way out of town I took the small, quiet road heading to my destination of Marina di Lesina. Too quiet. I realized after a couple of kilometers the road would dead-end. Sigh.
The mountains still guarded my path to the coast. But after following me all day they were worn down, and let me cross with less than a 100 m climb.
By the time I reached Lesina at 6:00 pm, I’d cycled 116 km, with a big climb starting the day, and 50 km of headwinds. I stopped at the first campground on the GPS. Now a resort (as I stood there at the gate they closed it!). The backup campground now only serves RVs.
If I were in better shape, or less tired, or had more time, I might have tried making the 25 km jump to the next campground near Termoli. Instead, I stopped at a small hotel I passed on the way into town.
Tomorrow the campground density should be much higher, permitting a more leisurely pace!