The Road to Riparbella

by Andrew Stein

Although we enjoy the quark, potatoes, bread, and tomatoes so readily available during meals on the farm, Gabe and I decide we should consider venturing to the nearby town of Riparbella to supplement our diet with some more fruit and vegetables. We hear that we can make it to town via bicycle, so we naturally borrow bikes from the farm and start naively on our way. We wait until about 5pm to try to avoid the heat of the day, but unfortunately, we aren’t entirely successful. After crossing several undulating hills, we hit the main road and optimistically look up the hill and think that we’re almost there. We start climbing the hill, and as we round every corner we prepare ourselves to see this small town. Eventually after about 20 corners and much climbing, we see a sign welcoming us to Riparbella. Unfortunately, the sign appears to be more of a tease than a welcome because we still only see more climbing leading to another bend in the road. Nonetheless, we rejoice at the sight of the sign, take a short break, and attempt to remove some of the sweat from our faces.

Riparbella sign

While waiting at the Riparbella sign, we watch other professionally dressed bicyclists in much lighter and higher-tech bicycles struggle up this same hill. Although we are not maintaining their pace, we still feel better knowing that we are not the only ones suffering. Eventually, we convince ourselves that this next corner will in fact be the last corner, we mount our bikes, and we continue forward. The next corner was not the last, but after only several more turns, we find the town, and more importantly, we find a small market. First thing, we find water to start re-hydrating ourselves, but as soon as we feel the warm bottle, we are less excited. We grab the water for later, but at the moment, find a refrigerator with cold beers, and we share one of the most refreshing beers I’ve ever tasted. The taste isn’t even mind-blowing, but the circumstances are perfect.

We purchase a backpack full of vegetables, water, juice, and some drinks for later, and we then walk around town with our beer and water. Satisfied with our completed mission, we remount our bicycles and enjoy the downhill ride with wind in our faces. We get back to our room, immediately re-shower, get ready for dinner, and then rehash our adventure to Ursula. She claims that she had warned us about the hill and that no other WWOOF-ers have ever attempted that ride before. Gabe and I look at each other, smile, and change the conversation.