Often times, travel photography (or my non-trained eye at the very least) doesn’t at all give justice to the beauty and/or scale of the landscapes that we are fortunate to see; neither provide a true insight to the incredible experiences had. For me, this dilemma played over many times as we recently cycled, climbed and explored some of Northern Italy’s stunning countryside and alpine regions. The views were nothing short of amazing, everyday.
High up in the alps; 2500 > 2800 metres of elevation, these climbs and picturesque corners of the world often form the backdrop for luxury advertising campaigns with bottomless budgets, blockbuster films (ie. James Bond), feature in prolific road cycling events and are the crème de la crème for adventurists, mountaineers and cyclists seeking a challenge. In the winter months, they are a destination for the worlds’ snow-bunnies, and I have no doubt would make for some incredible riding. And that right there is reason enough to return!
As part of an organised cycling tour hosted by our local tri club (from Melbourne), we were lucky to spend 8 days doing what we love with an incredible group of friends. Days filled exploring new terrain, cycling ridiculous gradients to reach the mountains summit(s), testing limits and sitting in the hurt locker on occasions, consuming countless delicious pastries (cake for breakfast erry-day!) and having lots of laughs. Foremost, stepping up (or slowing down) when others’ needed the extra support (myself included – thanks team J), sharing stories and new experiences (for eg, breathing in new life with delicious bratwursts at the top of the Stelvio after a double ascent) and making memories. Grazie Italy, you were fab!
To cover off the adventures of that week, we’ll break down our thoughts by day with a blog post to match. A little easier for you to follow, and a bit more manageable for us to piece together amid our busy schedule touring… ah, the world.
The sequence of events/climbs/pain cave experiences are listed below. We hope you enjoy the ride! (pun intended).
Day 1. Group meet up Malpensa Airport. Afternoon cycle around Varese and surrounds.
Day 2. Cycle Bellagio > Madonna Ghisello.
Day 3. Double ascent of Passo dello Stelvio. From Bormio > Summit. Decend into Prato, Switzerland and climb from the back (Passo Umbrail). Desend back into Bormio. Yikes!
Day 4. Bormio > Mortirolo Pass > Bormio
Day 5. Bormio > Passo di Gavia > Bormio. Tour of European Training Centre / AIS, Garate.
Day 6. Giro I’talia Gran Fondo 100km loop.
Day 7. Bormio > Basso’s Climb and Binda’s Climb > Bormio.
Day 8. Optional cycle and departure from boot camp. We made a quick exit to the south of France to holiday with C’s family. Legs were s.t.o.k.e.d!!