Our second Italian Lakes trip of 2016, and it proved to be just as exhilarating as the first. Day one began in a similar fashion with yet another amazing group of cyclists. Arriving in Novara, to register and spend the night in a sporting hotel complex; looking after us all for a second time running; we had a peaceful nights sleep, before heading off on route into the beautiful countryside to begin the day. The relatively flat start, took us through the country roads of Novara, until we found the mountains; the cyclist first real taste of hills that lay ahead this week. Riding our way towards our first lake of the event, Lago Orta, seemed even more stunning than in June, if that was at all possible!
On to our second lake of the day, Lago di Mergozza, and still to the most tranquil lunch spot you could ever wish for! As in June, Chapeau’s caterers blessed us with yet another fabulous feast to ensure we had enough fuel to get us through the day. With just right amount of time to digest both the food and scenery, we set off once again.
A choice of routes were provided and those feeling weary in their legs took the flatter option; later meeting up with our fellow companions as the route re-joined at Verbania as we continued down to our last lake of the day in Stressa. A well earned drink and welcomed dip, in the highly rated lakeside bar at the hotel, greeted us as we finished for the day…simply stunning hotel with enough time to relax before dinner.
With the cyclists keen to get an early start on day two, we couldn’t have ask for a better route…cycling along Lago Maggiore; it really was a beautiful morning! Onward to Arona’s cobbled square gave the opportunity to take it all in once again as we watched and admired the tranquility that surrounded us. We headed across country as the climbs began and cycled our way over the boarder into Switzerland for a spot of lunch. Once fed and watered, we continued along the lake-shore and back into Italy, enjoying some incredible switchbacks on our descent. Our next destination was Lago Como and the city of Como itself. Perfect timing to have a well-deserved drink, a dip in the pool, and a catch up with fellow cyclists on the rooftop terrace bar in our hotel…a great finish to a great day!
Day three, the most challenging day of the event was upon us and what we had all have been training for. Apprehension, once again was the feeling coming from many of the cyclists but at the same time excitement. Riding out of Como we started to climb, with the most spectacular views across the water.
As the smooth roads ran parallel with the lakeside and through quaint villages perched on the hillside, we could really take in the views on route to Bellagio; where we stopped for drinks at the water’s edge.
It was decision time again…flattened out route all the way into Lecco, or tackle the almighty Madonna! Well, with Spiderman on our side there was no choice for the majority of the group…just had to be done…tough climb beckoned! The incredible achievement as fellow cyclists at the top clapped and cheered, until everyone finished…a real sense of camaraderie, even “Spidy” joined in!
Stopping for that well earned rest and a chance to take in the sights as we celebrated our triumph….our reward…the ten mile downhill of course! After lunch and the challenges of the morning, we embarked on the long, flat spin out, to cover some distance between Lake Como and Lake Endine but those hills hadn’t finished with us yet! On reaching the last 20 miles we came to yet another climb…at this point…many legs were dwindling but we were rewarded with the most incredible views and sweeping switchbacks, as we worked our way down and eventually to our stop for the night in Lake Iseo. All that hard training pre-event, really did pay off on this day!
We embarked on a much flatter route for day four but still had a fair distance to cover before we crossed the finish line in Verona, so off we set for our final journey! Leaving the exquisite Lake Iseo behind, we headed on to our next place of tranquility, Lake Garda. Cycling along the lake’s edge, we crossed small bridges and rode down cobbled streets, occasionally stoping for a coffee taking in the Italian culture. Fueled with pride and memories from all we had achieved so far, we hit the final stretch toward Verona…the excitement building again as we approached the event climax. Gathering at our holding point for the second time, we set off in convoy through the city streets, over the bridges and into the famous Piazza Brà for the last part of our truly magnificent week…with whistles blowing and cyclists cheering…the Colosseum in Verona didn’t disappoint. Time to celebrate on our huge achievement…Chapeau to all!
“Great riding and meeting you all. A fantastic week and a massive thanks to the Chapeau team”
Mark Nichols July 2016