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There's a new movement going on in L.A. for new bikers. Bike Sages are training newbies to ride fearlessly on the streets of Los Angeles. If you're here, and you've ever thought about biking in LA but you were worried about the traffic and other dangers, you can get a personal mentor to help you find fun and safe routes near your home and job.

It was still morning when I got to Terracina. It's like Venice Beach with a giant walled city on a hill. A steep road leads to a foreboding gate the gives entrance to the walls of the city. The Appian Way went right through the city and even higher up to the Piazza Dei Paladini and the Temple of Jove Anxur. At least for a time.

Those busy Romans, always on the move, built their own shortcut during the reign of Emperor Trajan. The city and temple rest on a giant point that juts out into the sea, and the Romans cut a road straight through the lowest, softest part of the point. It's daunting when you see it up close and imagine them hacking away at the rock with nothing but shovels and picks.

Italy bike tour Terracina temple

The Roman numbers etched into the cliff face represent the depth of the cut, and go from C to CX to CXX.

This unnatural detour saved the typical Roman a day of travel on the way to or from Rome, and it could have saved me a few hours, but I had other plans.

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You just can't go to Terracina on a bike and not climb the old, cartilage-scraping route that plagued the hooves of untold  herds of mules and other pack animals. Not to mention, I had to pay my tribute to Jove.

But first I needed coffee.

I bought a mini pizza and washed it down with espresso at a bar near the edge of town, run by a guy named Francesco. He was a cyclist himself, and asked eager questions about my planned journey.

"E' facile," he concluded. It's easy. Clearly he had never talked to any of the archeologists in Rome.

I asked him about riding up to Jove Anxur by way of the "high Appia" and he assured me "It is not steep." So we parted ways, and I rode confidently up the knee-grinding street.

As far as old ruins go, the temple was a bit of a disappointment. The view was not. You could see the southwest coast of Italy rolling away along the Mediterranean, with the Alban Hills in the distance, the cradle of this ancient city that was the cradle of modern Western civilization.

And you couldn't mistake via Appia for anything else. A dark green line of umbrella pines cut across the landscape, shooting back to Rome in an impossibly straight line. The southwest route away from Terracina and Rome was almost as straight as it marched up into the hills, but for most of this section I would have to take the modern road which crossed the Appian Way in endless switchbacks.

This was my second day on the Appian way, I only had one small worry. Francesco's optimistic view was in question. He had told me the route to Jove Anxur was "not steep," but I felt certain that my knees had lost at least a centimeter of cartilege.

In the old days, before the "Appian slash," travelers had to climb almost a thousand feet on a steep narrow roadbed. The rest and the view at the top, in a flat area called Piazza dei Paladini must have been a welcome site.  It was for me.

Trek bikes has started their annual essay contest. If you're a woman and you ride, you could win a new bike designed specifically for women, and trek gear that's made for a woman.

You only need to write 500 words, which is less than 2 typewritten pages.

This is your chance to tell the world why you ride, explain the importance of a bike in your life, and possibly score some free stuff:

I was doing some research on luxury brands for a client, and I stumbled upon an ad for "Cadillac Luxury bicycles."

I never thought I'd do this, but I have to give a thumbs up to this automobile company for diversifying and manufacturing a truly fuel-efficient vehicle.

I doubt this will have much of an impact on the company or the industry just yet, but it's a start. Someone at Cadillac can see the writing on the wall. They're focusing on high-end buyers, even implying on their website that true roadies are elite--which of course we are 🙂

There are still two overwhelming prejudices that keep most people from riding bikes. One is that you have to be some sort of super-athlete, and the other is that bikers are geeks, and definitely not in a cool way.

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But now your "bike" can be a Cadillac. This is very cool, it's probably creating new jobs somewhere, and it's dispelling these two dead myths.