Since yesterday was our day off, Tyler put off fixing his flat tire (which he acquired riding into Aquaviva Campground) until this morning. In no time at all, he had the tube patched and we were ready to go. All of our panniers were packed and everything was stowed under our bungee nets so we began wheeling our bikes to the campsite entrance. I had taken only two steps when my bike felt all funny and squishy. I looked down to see that my rear wheel was completely flat.
With a sigh, we finished wheeling our bikes to the entrance and began dealing with my tire. Tyler's bike was leaned up against the fence, and as we were searching for what caused my flat Tyler glanced over at his bike only to notice that his front tire was flat. Again. Remaining calm, we dealt with each tire in turn, me looking for the pokey, flat-causing culprit in his tire while Tyler patched and repaired mine.
As we finished fixing our third flat of the morning, we were already hot and sweaty and we'd yet to pedal a single stroke! I decided we should go for one last swim on Elba and Tyler immediately agreed. Floating around in the crystal clear water easily washed away the morning's annoyance. Elba, we will miss you!
After our refreshing dip, we took advantage of the showers once more, rinsing out the salt from our hair in preparation for the many nights of free-camping that undoubtedly lay ahead. Exiting the shower block, we were relieved to find that our tires still held air and were ready for us to take on the road.
It was already noon when we cycled out of Aquaviva Campsite for our last bit of Elban hills. After four kilometers of steep climbs back to Portoferraio we found the ferry ticket office and Tyler booked us a ride for two o'clock. With some free time on our hands we decided to go grocery shopping before heading to the mainland.
For brunch, I bought some cold milk and a box of honey-nut cheerios. We sat on our walkstools in the grocery store parking lot, wolfing down several bowls until the milk was gone (and nearly all of the cheerios too!) While our mouths were full, a couple of French-Canadian racing cyclists came up to us and asked us about the route we took around Elba. They explained they had only four hours on the island, and wanted to see as much of it as they could. We helped them plan their route and wished them good luck on their very short holiday, relieved we weren't traveling as fast as they were.
Pleasantly full from our cereal brunch we zipped back to the ferry port and we were on our way. After strapping our bikes to the rails below deck we made our way upstairs. The ferry was a bit more posh (and expensive) than the one we arrived on; there was a cafeteria and very large seating area. We decided to sit outside, but when we opened the door to rows of hard seats and the sun began its familiar beating, we re-thought our decision. We are outside all the time. Inside, the seats were cushier and there was air conditioning.
A short hour later the ferry pulled into port and we headed below decks to fetch our bicycles. As we wheeled our bikes out of the ferry we struck up conversation with an Italian man sitting in a car next to us. While we were in Elba we'd seen signs for 'Elbaman', an Ironman competition and we learned he'd taken second place! After exchanging mutual congratulations (him for the race, us for our adventurous spirit) we parted ways and headed back to the mainland.
A few kilometers outside of Piombino we pulled off into a nicely shaded park to make dinner. Ever since we arrived in Italy we've been eating a lot of pasta. It has been delicious, but while grocery shopping I decided we needed to mix things up a bit and bought supplies to make cheeseburgers! We fired up our stove and made them with lightning speed as another cycle tourist nearby worked on his bicycle.
Satisfied with our new free-camping dinner strategy (stop and make dinner before setting up) we located a secluded spot off the road and enjoyed the much faster process of simply setting up the tent and crawling in! Tomorrow we begin our trek to Rome!