Sicily - Part I

Ride like migrating birds

When the days get cold, short and gray, there's hardly anything better than copying migrating birds and point your front wheel towards the Mediterranean. And for two motorcycle weeks in Sicily you can even throw a few principles overboard.

Actually, when it comes to motorcycle travel I am a convinced "on-axis traveler". I'd rather sit in the saddle for days than get on a train or in a van. Accordingly, it was hard to lash the Tiger, GS and Transalp to the back of the van. But once a cold rain set in - shortly before the Gotthard - and the temperatures dropped towards 0°C, I contentedly sat like a fat tomcat in front of the warm stove in the Ford Transit. I imagined the Mediterranean coast of Sicily, from which only the Alps and a ferry passage separated us, while outside fine rain obscured the view and the windshield wipers squeaked into service.

Now - just two days later - the increasingly freshening wind is whipping rain against a windowpane again, while the aroma of Sicilian red wine slowly spreads in my mouth. We are sitting in a mobile home, the spawn of hell for a tent aficionado like me - and yet it is so cozy at this moment, because the Mediterranean is turning into the North Atlantic in terms of weather. The cork of the second bottle slips out of the neck of the bottle with a rich "plop" and I swear to myself that I won't let the camping thing go to waste in the future.

The pasta is fragrant, the glasses clink. To Sicily, the principles and better weather.

The next morning we can at least glimpse the sun. The wind has died down and only the whitecaps on the sea remind us that it was almost landfall here yesterday. After breakfast we leave Cefalu. Since it already raises again gloomily in the north, the whole baggage swings itself also immediately in the rain clothes on the motorcycles. Following the Strada Statale 113 we leisurely shimmy eastward along the coast. The wind blows gusty from the not at all Mediterranean sea and makes clear that the low pressure area can still show its teeth. In Marina di Caronia we leave the coastal road and turn onto the SP168 heading inland. 

In wide curves, tight hairpin bends and sneakily tightening corners, the country road winds its way upwards, leaving little doubt that the anticipatory exploration on the map was thoroughly justified. "If only the damn asphalt were dry...", I think, pleased with the winter gloves packed at the last moment and resisting the temptation to additionally fire up the Triumph's heated grips. After the autumn and winter days I've almost forgotten how it feels when the euphoria arrives under the helmet and the Triple pushes man and machine snarling from the lean angles. Yeah!

As the first patches of snow flit through the corners of my eyes amidst the still winter-bare forest, I can hardly place what I have glimpsed. At the junction to Cesaro then the certainty: A closed blanket of snow covers the road. It is quickly clarified that none of us feels the urge to tackle the snowfield with uncertain end. We pose on the last centimeters of asphalt for the photo album, start the total of seven cylinders and leave the Parco dei Nebrodi in a southerly direction. In San Teodoro, the island shows its conciliatory side. Cherry blossoms line the road and contrast wonderfully with the slate-gray sky.

Our tents are pitched under blossoming orange trees, behind whose branches the snow-covered peak of Mount Etna peeks out. The latently smoking volcano will be a common theme throughout the tours of the next few days. After a short and very refreshing swim in the turquoise sea, we set off for the mountain stage.

Text: Alan Klee

Pics: Alan & Rigobert Klee







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