An old-time "selfie" I guess you'd say? Taken with an actual camera rather than a "smart" phone (does anyone use these to make calls these days?) propped up with a flexible tripod as we started this climb on something called "Strada Diego" a place that many locals don't even seem to know about.
How'd we get here? Years ago Larry showed up at 2 PM for a local ride. We'd seen a large group congregating at a bar on the edge of Siracusa a time or two as we went past, so Larry thought he'd join the ride.
Problem 1 - these guys pretty much spoke Sicilian dialect, one incomprehensible to Larry. Problem 2 - after loitering around well past 2 PM the ride took off like they'd fired a starting gun! No way was Larry up for riding at this pace, especially after standing around for 10+ minutes!
He knifed his way to the back and found a couple others back there and asked if anyone was interested in RIDING rather than racing? Turns out these guys were up for that, so we cruised along, with chatter sometimes in Italian rather than dialect, while the "2 PM World Championship" contenders vanished into the distance.
We followed their route for awhile, then a discussion started about doing some climbing rather than zooming along the wide-open roads we'd been on. My only question was how long the ride might take since I'd not brought anything more than two bottles of water.
They assured me we'd be out for not much more than 2 hours so I continued along with them, making a turn off a main road onto Strada Diego which eventually (starting about where the photo was taken) climbed up to a plateau and then back onto a more major road before a dip and climb back up to a town called Canicattini Bagni.
From there it was all downhill back to Ortigia and not much more than 2 hours as promised. I thanked the guys, but have yet to return to battle for any rainbow stripes at 2 PM, instead riding up here with Heather now and then, as we did the other day.
We laugh about how few cars pass us on these rides and are considering putting together a new CycleItalia itinerary in southeastern Sicily which they call Sicilia Sud-Orientale/Monti Iblei.
Let us know if you have interest in joining us, perhaps in May of 2017?