Bella Italia by bike – 2019 Giro
Our recent trip to Italy in May with Bikestyle Tours following the last two weeks of the 2019 Giro d’Italia was amazing. It makes it a challenge to keep the list of highlights brief when chatting to friends on a Sunday Social ride.
At the Giro d’Italia, you get so close to the pro peloton you feel like you are a part of it. Riding the same climbs as the pros on race day was quite an experience. After all, it’s not every day you get cheered on a climb by crowds on the roadside and the encouragement it brings helps turn a grimace to a smile, even if only for a moment.
After reaching the summit, catching your breath and taking photos at the KOM banner, we were able to roll back down and find somewhere to wait for the race to come through. As we watched the pros tackle the same ascent, we marvelled at their speed and couldn’t help notice that at least they were all in their small chainrings like us (but admittedly their lowest gears which were much higher than ours!).
The tough climbs are… really tough! (If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be on everyone’s bucket list.) The Mortirolo hides its brutal ramps in the trees. The lower slopes through the vineyard barely get you warmed up before the gradient pitches up and doesn’t let up. As you tick off the numbered bends at least you know you are making (slow) progress on what is one of the hardest climbs in Italy. It’s a relief to reach the clearing and see the summits monument come into view after climbing for over an hour and a half. But then to descend – also a challenge on the very steep and narrow rough road.
In the Dolomites, it was like riding through a picture-perfect postcard every day. This area was the most picturesque of our cycling trip and somewhere we are keen to return to. With the bluest blue skies, snow-capped rocky peaks and tall green pines, there was plenty to take in and in turn plenty to keep your mind off the road and a distraction from the effort of climbing. The lovely flowing descents connecting the passes made this area cycling heaven.
As we rode along and through small villages during the tour, the love of cycling and of the Giro d’Italia shone through. Pink everywhere – balloons, flags, banners and flowers – lined along the race route, and showing how honoured the people were to have the Giro roll through their town. Sweetest of all was calling out “Ciao! Ciao!” as we waved to the children as we rode by and received their excited waves and cheers back at us.
The hills around Brisbane don’t quite prepare you for the true mountain climbs in Italy, but the scenery and sense of achievement make every effort worthwhile. The rides come with the added benefit of knowing you can indulge in as much pasta, pizza and gelato as you like because you ride it off every day. (Fun fact: cycling holiday ice creams have no calories!) And I’m pleased to have a new post-ride ritual on a Sunday afternoon – a cheeky spritz and memories of a Bella Italia.
Written by: Anne Moffit
By the numbers:
- Bikestyle Tours Giro trip total km cycled = 565 km
- Bikestyle Tours Giro trip total elevation climbed = 11,700 m (1 1/3 Mt Everests)
- New Strava friends = 14
- Strava QOMs = 2
- Purchased Giro merchandise = 2 jerseys (c’mon, it’d be wrong not to!)
- Gelato per day = 1 scoop
- Spritz per day = 1 (or 2)
- The only way to drink Italian coffee = espresso
- The right price for said espresso = 1 Euro
- Nights spent staying in a castle = 3
- Cheers of encouragement from the Bikestyle Tours support crew (“Great job!”) = lost count (the support is amazing!)