Friday, 17 July 2015

Italy - Mountain Bike - Liguria

Riding in.. Italy: 2003..

Sadly I only joined the ranks of GPS touting Strava fiends some three years ago (or so).. My Italian Odysseys pre-date this revolution so you will just have to believe me. Let us go chronologically, from dawn to dusk, first to last.

I’m lucky, very lucky. My father has lived in Liguria for thirty years, more so including the ‘on/off’ periods in his early days. He now resides in a tiny village, nestled above the ocean encircled beauty of shimmering Imperia, halfway between Prela and Viatella sat atop the commune of Dolcedo, he is basically perched upon the precipice of a cycling mecca.  My first forays into the Alpi Lugure were all done on 26” hoops. In 2006 my Marin B17, later on an On One.. Boxed up, wrapped in pads and pants we always made it to Nice airport with little drama and then to Casa Papa via Flying Fiat in around fifty minutes. Once unwrapped and built I hit the trails between Valloria and Prela. These tracks were bedded in around 1350 and were basically the main roads until the early 1900. Consisting of cut rock steps, steep flowing chutes and loose gravel single track they are truly immense. The trails in the next valley are the famous Molini runs and are amazing, but these old donkey tracks have a bit more of an untouched rugged feel to them. I never saw another Minion DHF tread in the mud during my explorations, no rattling chains of sliding tyres ever passed me and not a single jelly baby wrapper got caught in my rotor. On the second day I rode to the summit of Mt Morro (1015mt). A long slog on mixed trails, the top being hike a bike. Surrealism being strong in Italy (look at the tax system, or driving), here I found a small, newly built church with no road in or our out, no obvious recent use and a congregation living inside, consisting of a goat, 4 sheep and a cow complete with bell. I was hoping the cow would give it ‘more cow bell’ on my decent off the mountain but I just looked a bit put out by my presence. The ride down into the valley is an arm pump inducing 40 minute run or almost total single track. Running from open Alpine vistas to woodland, then olive groves before running down a river bed and into small villages it’s a ride of four scenes and three seasons. Winter at the top, cold and barren even in May. You slowly ride into summer at the bottom, so it’s time for an ice cream. They do it very well here. After a few trips I ventured much higher and further, hike a bike, cow dodging and Ape drafting. They really don't mind you taking a pull upwards either, 'pedalare, pedalare!' I won't insult your intelligence with what this means!

Some good phrases: 
Di Su - Up & Di Giu - Down, useful when asking directions..
Dio Mio! - My God! - Good for hucking big gaps
Biciclette - Erm... Bike
Bacicci - You need to ask for these in the bar, they are great 'fuel'
Gelato - Gods creation, Ice Cream
Sono Di - I am from.... 
Grinta - Guts/Strength , use with 'Multo' to give compliments
Quelo - That one, very handy with pointing in shops
Litre - Litro, good for all beverages
Cretino - Fool/Idiot - handy at A&E to describe yourself
Caffe Coretto - Both coffee and booze in one cup
Rotto - Broken, use in bike shop or hospital
Mi Sono Perso - I am lost
Li Alpi - Italian Alps

Riding fat tyres here is now a pilgrimage for many, Finale is up the road, Molini down the road. Nice is excellent.. I look back really fondly on my early off road rides in Ligura, I knew little about 'sports science', I just rode. I ate when I was hungry and whatever I could grab. I drank when thirsty, often beer.. I miss that, the more I went to the road, the more I lost something about my riding, the fun and freedom, just pushing up and cleaning a great section over and over, just because it was fun. Somewhere I got too serious, I own a mountain bike again now, and after I've charted my journey through the last decade I'll post about my new adventures, most likely with a baby trailer.. Yep, it's all change here.

Anyway - Go ride in Liguria, it's better than Morzine! 

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