Sunday, 1 July 2012

Italy Part 1: Bellagio

Every riding holiday, and every riding holiday blog, has to start somewhere. It's a bit like a Grand Tour where they have a prologue before the real action starts. As such, feel free to fast-forward to the end of this post to check that Cancellara did indeed win.

My holiday started at 03:00 on the 22nd June when I leapt from my bed like an over eager salmon, quickly dressed, cleaned my teeth and packed the car with bike, kit bag and hand luggage.

At 03:11 I was on the road and eating up the miles to Gatwick airport, cruise control set to a gentle 75mph. The sun started to rise ahead of me and by 04:38 I was parked by the terminal and unloading. A quick stroll to check-in, a 10 minute queue and I was waving the bike goodbye as it disappeared onto the over-sized luggage conveyor.

At this point you might be thinking "it's all going too well..." Don't worry, there is a shock coming.

Ready?

Sitting down?

There were no decent cognac deals in duty-free. I was devastated. 30% off? I'm not paying £95 for something I've paid £65 for before. I'd have to go thirsty on the flight.

I consoled myself with coffee and breakfast before firing off a couple of text messages to my travelling companions, Phill (from LEJOG) and David (from the Pyrenees and Magnificat). They were a little behind me in the airport passenger sausage machine so I wandered the shops and cursed the gods of brandy pricing.

We met up, we boarded the plane, we flew, we landed. We collected luggage and bikes. We had a coffee. Here is is.


I guess we could have stretched to one each.

Our guide Massimo (for this was an escorted trip) was picking up another rider (Tony) from another airport - hence the coffee - but soon he was outside and we were on our way to Bellagio, on the banks of Lake Como. Twisty roads, scenery to die for and cyclists everywhere. It all boded well for a great holiday.

After lunch (pizza, obviously) we strolled into town. Bellagio is a beautiful place, almost a Hollywood version of an Italian lakeside village. It reminded me of a Cornish fishing port, if Cornwall was
  • hot and sunny
  • brightly coloured
  • populated by slim, stylish Italians sipping espresso and arguing over pasta shapes.
We wandered, I bought a bike jersey, we ate ice cream and drifted back to the hotel, trying to move with the heat rather than against it. Bike building brought our first emergency, when Phill snapped his seat-collar in half. Somehow his frantic call to Massimo led to a replacement being obtained - it seems that an S-Works Roubaix collar can be found if you know the right people.

We ate dinner on the lake at an over-priced tourist trap but quite frankly, with a view like this we were happy to pay.


And I don't mean the view of Tony.

Next instalment - Best First Day Ride Ever.
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