RIMBY (Ride In My Backyard) is your opportunity to show the cycling world your favorite 1 or 2 days local rides around your home, check the guidelines here and contact us if you have your own RIMBY trip to share! Alberto from Altopiano shares this week his gravel trip between his two “homes”, check it out here:
I imagined the route as the shortest way to get off the mountains and go straight to the Venice Lagoon, the Adriatic Sea and Chioggia. With a glass of Cabernet in front of the stove, already lit in these last cold Autumn days, I looked at the map following with my eyes the run of forest roads and trails to descend to the valley, which places to cross and which rivers to follow in their flow towards the sea.I picked up the glass that had meanwhile drawn a purple ring on the map.The wine would have been the main theme of my Gravel tour. I would then join Veneto’s most beautiful vineyards, renowned wine cellars and typical taverns cycling along dirt roads, trails, bike paths and b-roads. When I had finished the glass, I also found a name for this two-day tour: Sky to Sea. I like the idea: curiosity – and thirst – were now stimulated and they have to be met.
While I was preparing my 3T Exploro, I was thinking about the length of the stages to be faced and the scarce hours of light available this season of the year. I would have left and arrived in the dark. I would have had little time to take pictures. But I would have enjoyed the most beautiful light to ride through the vineyards. I would not have had time to visit all the best wineries and taverns. But I would have put them on the map. And I would be back in the spring, splitting out the tour in 4 stages so to have time to share glasses of wine & good food with a friend.
When I finished putting in the bike bags the few essential things to take with me, which consisted mainly in a change of clothes to go out for dinner with my family, I went for a walk with my dog Timo. It was dusk, the forests around us were black, and the depressions in the fields already contained pale fog lenses. In the dim light of a clearing we saw a deer that raised its head and open his nostrils. Immediately he disappeared into the darkness. The next morning at 4 I would have jumped into the saddle.
DAY 1 :ALTOPIANO DI ASIAGO – VENEZIA (250km / 1750m+)
I take the bike and leave the house followed by Timo. In the light of the moon, the fields around us shine under the first frost of the year. Timo and I are a lucky couple. We live together, he follows me to work in the forest and we share a passion for cycling. We go mountain biking always together, he shows me the best lines on the most technical steps, I expect him in the fastest sections. We stop to drink at the same water sources, we divide the sandwich during the lunch break in the woods and in the evening we fall asleep in front of the stove.A simple wonderful life. I caress Timo in his thick triangular ears. I can not take him with me on this adventure.
Timo needs no explanation and goes to settle down in front of the door with the hairy tail on his nose as a protection from the cold air. I turn on the bike lights, put on my wool gloves and I leave. Following the cycle path created on the old railway line Schio – Asiago, I reach the former Campiello train station and I climb to the Buse della Carriola, a vast basin used for summer pasture. I cycle lighting the road in front of me while above my head, over the tops of the trees, the aurora has already made to disappear the stars from the sky. The dawn reach me on the Monte Sùnio, an extraordinary panoramic balcony where on clear days the view can range from the Slovenian Alps to the Appennino. A slight haze lingers on the plain 1300 meters below me and on the horizon I distinguish the exile and irregular borders of the Venice Lagoon.
The morning is glorious and I go down fast, kissed by the sun, to the beautiful medieval town of Marostica, which I reach at km 45.
It ‘s market day and despite the hour of the morning the streets are full of life. Stop in a pastry shop for two jam croissants and a fruit pie, cappuccino and a coffee and I feel ready to seriously face the day. I cycle among the native vineyards of the area, those of Marzemino and Vespaiola grapes, following the hills till the plain that hosts the Brenta River, Bassano del Grappa and its Ponte degli Alpini. Crossing the wooden bridge, which leads into the historic center, always has a special charm. Once I come to the other side i respect the local tradition and I stop at the historic Grapperia Nardini. The local at 9 am is already crowded.
The wind has risen, I pedal among the yellow leaves of the poplars following the narrow countryside between Monte Grappa and the first reliefs of the Asolani Hills. I meet a large flock of sheep. I have always been fascinated by the work of the shepherds, due to their symbiotic relationship with the dogs. And then for the sense of freedom they express. After a short climb between villas and elegant palaces, I enter Piazza Garibaldi in Asolo.
I’m at km 76, I take this opportunity for an aperitif with a glass of Asolo Prosecco DOCG and half a boiled egg with anchovy in oil. I face a steep ramp to reach the Rocca and continue along the path nr.1, a single track characterized by continuous ups and downs, in a mixed forest of chestnut trees, oaks and acacias, with flow sections and some more technical.
A fun to do with the Exploro and its Plus tyres, the chamaleon-like WTB Byway 47. By playing with the inflation pressure, I have cushioning and extra grip in the most rough sections, record smoothness on compact surfaces and asphalt.
I head to the northeast with the view that now sweeps over the Belluno Prealps and on the wide bed of the Piave River, with its abandoned meanders made of white pebbles. The sky is filled with narrow, elongated, parallel clouds that looks like so many waves.
I arrive at the bank of the river and start to follow a muddy track evidently used by shepherds and their beasts during the transhumance. In Fener, I use the bridge and pedal towards Valdobbiadene, in a countryside where every space hosts Glera vines from which the famous Prosecco is made. Dirt roads and short but very hard climbs on concrete alternate between the vineyards through the area of Cartizze, a land of Crù appreciated all over the world.
I arrived at km 110 and I’m hungry. I stop in the tavern and with a glass of Prosecco I bring salami, cheese and jams. Back in the saddle I circumnavigate the Montello pedaling immersed in a diffused and soft light that reminds me of the season in which I am. I decide to taste the local red wine, the Montello DOCG, only once arrived in Treviso where I allow myself a stop to accompany it with creamed salted cod and breaded meatballs in one of the most typical city inns. The atmosphere inside is warm and noisy, the “cicchetti”(appetizers) at the counter are all inviting, among them I find the half boiled egg, my great passion.
The River Sile cycle paths – one of my favorite – starts from Treviso: entirely unpaved, never monotonous, surrounded by nature. It allows you to cross in an almost miraculous way, far from the traffic, one of the most densely populated and industrialized European territories.
I reach Mestre at 206 km. It’s late I’m hungry and I’m tired. My father calls me to ask what time I’ll get home. I would like to have “tramezzini”, there is a bar in the city that makes them epic. Tramezzini are triangular shaped mini sandwiches consisting of two thin and soft slices of toast bread. The two slices contain an incredible amount of filling, which can be of the most varied. I love tramezzini with tuna, eggs and mayonnaise.
I do not have time for tramezzini, even though I am now a few kilometers from Venice. Now the most “delicate” part of the journey awaits me. To reach the island of Chioggia i need to take ferry boats connecting the islands that separate the Venice Lagoon from the Adriatic Sea. “Delicate” because ferry boats as soon as they load on board buses and passengers. In summer with the beaches full of tourists the bus makes many stops … and keep its speed on a bike is not a problem. In this season it can happen that the bus does not make any stop and that then goes chased … with the real risk of staying on the ground losing the boat and having to wait 1 hour for the next. And say goodbye to the fish dinner. I reach Venice thanks to a nice bike path that I share with the seagulls. I lived in Venice during the university years, working as a sailor on motorboats in the northern lagoon.
In the clear winter mornings, when the Tramontana wind was blowing, it seemed to be able to touch the mountains so long they seemed close. I stood outside the boat’s bridge to admire the snow, calling mountains by name. The Altopiano di Asiago-Sette Comuni, Monte Grappa and the Pale di San Martino lined up in a distorted game of perspectives; the Belluno Dolomites, the Pelf, the gigantic Antelao, the Col Nudo and the Alpago and up to Friuli. Mountains to no end, mountains where I dreamed of being.
I embark on the ferry boat and sailing on the Giudecca Canal I enjoy Piazza San Marco and Venice with the first lights on to face the evening.
DAY 2: VENEZIA – ALTOPIANO DI ASIAGO (240km / 2300m+)
I finish breakfast and I go downstairs to the fish shop where I find my brother already at work. Last night we were late, eating traditional fish dishes and drinking countless bottles of wine.
Before leaving Chioggia I take a tour of the places of my childhood.. Piazza Vigo, Canal Vena, the fish market, the old town of Sottomarina. I go to the dam, where I spent hours when I skipped the school. The wind is strong and the sea and the beach are crowded with sails.
I pedal along the Bacchiglione River cycle path with the wind behind me, dreaming of a coffee up to the first bar in Battaglia Terme.
Here the first 50km of flat terrain ends and I meet the Euganean Hills, reliefs of volcanic origins with the unmistakable cone shape and their notorious climbs for the cyclists. I zigzag between the vineyards and the cypresses of Monte Lispida, I climb among the olive trees of Calbarina, the soil is white and dusty. I meet a sword in the rock and shortly thereafter the medieval village of Arquà Petrarca with the wine bar still closed. I’m sweating in an indecorous manner while clinging to the handlebars and to the slopes of Mount Ventolone and of Monte Fasolo. I climb to the sun and go down into the shade, among vineyards of Yellow Muscat and solitary oaks, heading towards the plain that separates me from the gibbous elongated silhouette of the Berici Hills.
I’m a fan of Baccalà alla Vicentina – a dish made from stockfish – and I stop in a tavern placed just halfway between the Euganean Hills and the Berici Hills, the best in preparing the Scandinavian fish following the recipe from Vicenza. In Mossano I go to say hello to a friend at the family winery, he offer me a glass of Tai Rosso with sopressa – a traditional salami – and pan biscotto – a kind of bread. In front of me the day is still long and I take advantage of every opportunity to eat.
It is always a pleasure to ride on the Berici Hills and even more is to do it today. The light is very beautiful and the multicolored vineyards draw on the hills many copper and gold wires, with the green metallic sparkle of the olive trees all around.
I enter the historical city center of Soave, at km 130, passing through Porta Bassano where the bunches of Garganega hang on my head, left to dry to produce the Recioto di Soave, a delicious sweet wine.
I ride on pavè following the alleys that rise to the castle and from here through a succession of hills with vineyards of the colder slopes colored of red and purple.
The afternoon is flying away, my shadow has overtaken me for quite a while and now it gets longer and longer towards Gambellara and Montebello where I stop for a pint of beer, I feel dehydrated. I head again towards the Berici Hills that I overtake at sunset, arriving at Lake Fimon chilled after the descent. It’s time to change clothes, I put on a dry wool sweater and turn on the bike lights. This stage is definitely too, my mood is low, I’m hungry and I’m far away. I think of the grand finale that awaits me with a thousand meters of climbing on a dirt road to return to the Altopiano.
I spend some unspecified time on the embankment of the Tesina River, to pedal without thinking, me and my bike are the only light in the darkness of the countryside. The few crossings of state roads are noteworthy events in this late afternoon. I note that the world of cars is in excellent health and I go back to immerse myself in the darkness of the countryside. I do not particularly like pedaling at night. I feel like being near the water course, at times the track I’m following widens through quarry areas and then becomes a single track with some bold passages. I find the asphalt and a pizzeria in Lugo, where I enter with dignity for a Margherita and a pint of beer.
I am at km 218. The bike light illuminates the roadside with the vineyards of Vespaiola grapes from which the excellent white wines belonging to the DOC Breganze are obtained. A few pedal strokes, I ride through the bridge over the Astico River and I’m back in the dark inside a wood. I look up to my right towards the great slope of Costo, dark and black, with the headlights of cars that linger on the hairpin bends. Next to the modern Costo’s road, there is the old one, which with only 38 hairpin bends (24 on gravel) leads to the Piazzale Principe di Piemonte covering a difference in height of 1000 meters. I leave the small lights of the plain behind me and I find again the woods of the Altopiano. I caress Timo in the thick triangular ears, I enter the house, light the stove, open a bottle of wine and prepare to eat for both…
Two massive days of riding through Veneto’s best vineyards, wineries, taverns and scenic roads. To enjoy the best of the trip I recommended to split it into 4 stages.
Veneto boasts 53 certifications to protect the same number of wine areas and is the first region in Italy for turnover related to the wine sector. Wine and food represent for the people from Veneto identity values as well as the cultural landscapes of the different production areas. Cycling through these lands and not stopping in the cellar or in the tavern would mean visiting them superficially, without fully grasping their value, and depriving themselves of unique tastes and flavors.
The starting point of the trip is by Col del Sole Bike Hotel in Treschè Conca di Roana (VI). The hotel provides shuttle service from/to the airport and luggage transportation for cyclists (www.coldelsole.it– www.altopianooutdoor.com)
The best lodging once you get in Chioggia is Casa Mafalda B&B (http://www.casamafaldachioggia.it/)
Sky to Sea is a gourmet tour. Along the way you’ll find pleanty of occasions to stop for wine&food tasting. The trip was designed to link together renowned cellars and typical tavers.
If you split the first stage in two days I recommend to overnight in the Prosecco wine area: Agriturismo Vedova (Valdobbiadene); if you split the second stage in two I recommend to overnight in the Colli Berici wine area: Agriturismo Piovene Porto Godi (Toara di Villaga).
Check the GPS files here: