Lake Garda September 2017 Blog

Tuesday, 19th Sept 2017:

The first spin of the week took the group from their base in Moniga Del Garda to the picturesque town of Sirmione, a 44km round trip (just getting the legs warmed up for the long rides and climbs to come later in the week). Sirmione, a very popular tourist destination in Lake Garda, is dominated by its fairytale castle, complete with a moat patrolled by swans and ducks, and made for an impressive backdrop for the first ride of the week.

Of course, Italians are famous for their love of good food and for their first evening the group dined in Al Portec, a popular restaurant frequented by the locals – not on the tourist track so you need a bit of inside information to find this little gem (well done Matteo). The group indulged in a selection of antipasti, including bruschetta, local cheeses, mussels and cured meats followed by pizza, pasta and washed down with some local beers and wines (well it’d be rude not to!). A great start to the week and some fuel for the rides ahead.

Wednesday, 20th Sept 2017:

The gang started their day at 9:30 am with the destination of Tremosine in their sights. The sun was shining in the cloudless sky, with a very comfortable temperature of 22 degrees, perfect cycling weather. After the gentle start yesterday this would prove to be an entirely different prospect, 104km and 2,766 metres of climbs. The ride would bring them northwards up the west side of the lake, through the beautiful lake side towns of Salo’, Gardone Riviera, Maderno and Gargnano before turning left up the major climb of the day into Tremosine.

(Tremosine is one of the widest municipalities in the province of Brescia and from 2008 has received the brand of “Borgo piu’ Belli d’Italia” i.e. literally: the most beautiful villages in Italy.)

After two of the group took a wrong turn in Salo’ (you know who you are) the bunch came together again at the piazza in Maderno for a quick breather and some time to take in the amazing views. Off again towards the major climb of the day with the lake views to the right, through the tunnels, all arriving safely at the base of the climb into Tremosine. This mountain has it all, tunnels, grottos, hair pin bens and literally looks like a ride straight out of any major theme park… a real thrill! After such an exertion to the top, coffee and cake were enjoyed by all while soaking up the panoramic views from the cliff edge platform. Homeward bound towards Tignale, we had our first and only mechanical of the day when the steep descent caused a heat related puncture. A great ride by all.

The afternoon was spent with some of the group attending the studios of Michele and Alfiero Della Piazza for bike fitting while others enjoyed massages at the apartments. Elaine, Shane, Philip and James along with Matteo headed to Verona to engage the expertise of the #1 Italian Bike Fitters in their newly completed, state of the art studios, near Verona. While the rest of the group had a professional massage by two Pro Team masseuses. We certainly know how to spoil them here at Cigala Cycling.

Thursday, 21st September:

So, today’s ride was The Big One, “Il giro del lago”, the tour of the lake, with a complete distance of 143km. The group departed from Moniga del Garda at 8:45 heading Northwards, on the west side of the Lake. We were blessed once again with beautiful weather, clear blue skies and an average temperature for the day of 24 degrees…although I think at certain points the gang felt like it was a lot hotter than that!

The first scheduled stop was at the very top of the lake, in the town of Riva (approx. 60km into the ride). The group were in movie territory here, passing through the tunnels made famous in the 2008 James Bond Movie, Quantum of Solace (the setting for the frantic road chase where Bond delivers the hapless Mr White to the secret MI6 lair – just for all you movie buffs).

After a very strong head wind the guys were happy to grab some quick recuperation (and a coffee) while soaking up the enchanting, “incantevole” lake and mountain views. Onwards towards Torbole (travelling down the east side of the lake), where they grabbed a quick photo op (the views from here into Riva are spectacular) and another 15km covered before arriving at Malcesine*. Here they grabbed a quick ‘on the go’ lunch (Matteo is a hard task master) to get back on the road as soon as possible.

*Malcesine, crammed between the blue lake waters and the massive mountain ridge of Monte Baldo, is a picturesque tourist village with cobbled lanes and overlooked by a majestic castle. Behind Malcesine rises a two-stage cable car ride to the top of Monte Baldo. In Winter, this is a base for mountain sports and in Summer tourists can escape the high temperatures and enjoy the bars and walks at the summit.

Now, 100km into the ride, it was on to the main climb of the day, turning left in the town of Torri Del Benaco, the bunch took on the 3km climb before descending into the town of Garda. This was a gruelling effort for most as they had no cover from the early afternoon sun (temperature approx. 25 deg). With another quick coffee and gelato stop (well it is Italy after all) at the Cafe’ Lugano in Sirmione, the lads were on the home stretch arriving back at base around 3pm.

Once again, our masseuses were on hand for anybody who wished to avail, while some of the others opted for a cool down in the pool, sure don’t they deserve it after their demanding day!

Friday, 22 September 2017:

Today saw the group depart their base in Moniga at 10:15 for a short spin (46km) away from the lake towards the city of Gavardo (birth place of our very own Matteo Cigala) where the guys met up with pro cyclists Davide Martinelli* (Quick-Step) and Michael Bresciani* (Bardiani CSF). The gang, complete with their two new members, headed back towards Lake Garda where they stopped lakeside in Padenghe for a coffee break and a question and answer session with the professionals – of course there was quite a few photos taken also J

*Davide Martinelli (24), former class mate of Matteo, is the son of former Italian cyclist and Astana Pro Team director sportif Giuseppe Martinelli. He is a three time winner of the Italian National Time Trial, under 23, Championship and competed in the 2017 Giro D’Italia.

*Michael Bresciani (22), from Desenzano Del Garda, is a sprinter with Bardiani CSF.

While the majority of the group left for a relaxing afternoon in Verona, taking in all the sights on yet another beautiful sunny day, Philip, John James, William and James opted to do even more kilometres with the pros (well it’s hard to pass up an opportunity like that!) and covered an additional 50km, well done guys! We’ll do our best get the low down on this spin and bring you any exciting titbits tomorrow.