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by Scott Penzarella on August 07, 2014
The 2014 Italy Cycling Adventure finished this past Saturday, culminating 7 days of incredible rides, typical Piemontese meals and Barolo & Alba wines from the world-class Langhe region. Some might say it was all too much: too much wine, too many meals, and too many kilometers. Others might say it was the perfect combination of all three. The consensus, however, can be seen in the tired faces, the radiant smiles and the shared hugs demonstrated at departure time from our home base of Castello Rosso.
Once everyone made it safely on their way, it was time for staff to rest, recharge and prepare for the week ahead. Some of us head back to Studio Velo; others head off to race in the Trios Etapes, the pro-am annual race to support our partner non-profit, the dZi Foundation. The transition is tough, actually. The body knows nothing but early mornings and late nights; too much wine and large calorie-rich meals; too little sleep and long days on the bike and lots of “on” time. To get a sense of what it’s like to be a guide on these trips is to see what one does post-trip.
The first order of the day is to toast a safe, fun and adventurous trip. Staff heads out for a long, casual lunch in the countryside where the wine flows and the course seem never-ending. This is exactly what we did on Saturday afternoon. By 4pm, the Dolcetto d’ Alba wine bottles were empty and belly full one last time before more strict measures for race preparation set in. Off to a long siesta, the team catches up on some long-overdue rest. By early evening the ‘batteries’ are recharged and the next feeding is lined up.
The following day usually begets a big ride, but this year the Italian Riviera called. Another full rest was in order. The am train ride gave us more time to catch up on some reading, rest and email. 45 Euros later and we were sitting on beach chairs at the foot of the Mediterranean. Life is good.
By the following day, the “three musketeers,” as we were called, sought out a new cycling adventure in its own right. 130+ kilometers and nearly 7k’ later, we had discovered another incredible loop. Starting near Fossano in the center of the Saluzzo Valley, we headed towards the high Langhe region. Right, left, straight, right, left, left, right. We literally turned any way we desired. Small roads, farm roads, gravel roads. It was a true adventure. By the time we hit the high point in the Langhe, it was lunchtime.
We decided to head toward the coast, to a town we had passed on the train the day before, and began a long, 15-minute descent to Ceva. A town far from its industrial height, Ceva sits in the Alpi Maritimi mountain range between Cuneo and the Liguria coast and was void of people and activity. Fortunately we found one restaurant open and proceeded to our daily gluttonous ritual: 3-course meal and lots of bread.
Following lunch, we proceeded to return to our starting destination, two hours away. It was a jolly good ride back to Fossano. A few hard pulls, a few small climbs and one exciting town-sprint finish. We rolled into Fossano at 5pm, stopped by the local Gelato stand and indulged in milk shakes made with my favorite Straccatella. Glorious amounts of milk, gelato and of course some Osmo recovery mix at the end. It was the perfect end to the perfect day on the bike.