Cycling on the island of Corsica has been on my wish list for nearly a decade so when I learned that I would be traveling there in September to join the ExperiencePlus! Cycling Corsica – the Island of Beauty trip I was truly excited. More accurately, I was over-the-top. I immediately started doing my reading and research and my excitement continued to grow. When a friend asked me why all of the excitement about the region, my first thought was because Corsica has it all.
Author James Boswell’s last words were “I believe if I could again visit Corsica, I might recover”. I am currently reading Boswell’s An Account of Corsica (1768) and I would describe it as part geographical diary, part travel journal, and part celebration of Pasquel Paoli the Corsican patriot who led the insurgency against Genoese rule at that time. At one point in the journal, Boswell remarks that the mountains of Corsica have a peculiar and grand appearance and that they “inspire one with the genius of the place”. He was quite taken with the beauty of the island.
Thinking back to the question of why all the excitement, I began to consider that if one were to create a graphic representation of homebody vs wanderlust, one would find me sitting much closer to the homebody label. Though I’m not consumed with the ache to travel, I do wholeheartedly enjoy a few new or repeat cycling destinations each year. With that in mind, my friend’s question helped me be a bit more introspective about what drives my enthusiasm. I came to the conclusion that what really excites me about a new cycling destination is the prospect of finding a place that has diverse terrain, aesthetically pleasing vistas, interesting architecture, and unique cultural and historical content. In addition, given that I reside in beautiful but very land-locked Colorado, I dream of traveling to islands.
Any image of Corsica that I view confirms the beauty I’ll see while I cycle the coast and admire its beaches and turquoise waters. It is also home to some of the most dramatic mountains of any Mediterranean island. I can’t wait to explore hilltop towns and river gorges, pedal through chestnut and pine forests, and even climb over Col de San Colombano before coasting through vineyards, olive groves and palm-lined streets. I also look forward to sipping wine in century old seaports imagining the 16th century Genoese watchtower guards gazing over the sea looking out for Pirates. We’ll visit St. Michele de Murato, one of the most famous Pisan cathedrals, and the seaside citadel in Bonifacio perched on the limestone cliff promontory 70 m above the harbor with a view of Sardinia.
Corsica made strong headlines in professional cycling in 2013 as it is the Grand Départ (official start) of the 100th edition of the Tour de France. The first three days of cycling are on the island and I know that I will be glued to the television. It’s just icing on the cake as I know that I’ll be riding there before long myself.
One of my aunts was fond of the saying “if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride” and she would appropriately toss it my way when as a youth I was feeling bored and most likely wishing for motivation and inspiration to simply fall into my lap. I value my ExperiencePlus! trip each year as I strive to learn, and to explore new destinations, and to meet new friends. I am not one to name my bicycles; I never seem to be creative enough. But, I have always thought of my bikes as my trusty steeds that takes me on new adventures. So perhaps it proves that in one sense of the word, wishes can be horses some of the time.