Cycling Italian MountainsI have recently realised a dream. How often do you get to say that?! I am living in Italy and I am teaching English! The teaching English part is stressful because I feel like I have no idea what I am doing most of the time. However, I am fortunate that the other Teachers are supportive and of varied experience. And a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor did it! I brought my bike with me too of course. It was a slog and a half but I had help along the way. From pre-trip assistance with bike box research, bike cleaning and packing (grazie mille Rich) to en-route rescue, most memorably in the form of a train driver and conductor carrying my big, heavy bike case across the railway tracks at Rovereto station as there was no lift. Bless em – I would have struggled otherwise. So I am living in the beautiful pre-alps, in the outdoor lover’s paradise that is Riva Del Garda. And it’s occurred to me that circular cycling routes are quite difficult to attain here without a molto grande day out. Food stops can be an issue as well, preparedness is definitely key. There are long traffic heavy-tunnels East and West on the lake too which isn’t great as a solo rider as you can’t quite command the road in the same way a group can. I tried a few out out early one day and they certainly get the heart rate up! I am working on finding some people to actually ride with. It’s startling more difficult than I thought and it has made me miss my Team Glow pals. I have in my explorations so far climbed Monte Velo to Passo Santa Barbara, where upon my descent I broke down in tears at the beauty of it all and how lucky I am to be here. My first circular route however has come in the form of a 40 miler with 1700m of climbing. It rained really hard on me as well toward the end, but I didn’t care because I was enjoying the satisfaction of completing a full loop around a mountain and I really needed to ride my bike. The challenge for me here will be how to keep my bike fitness as the Winter sets in. There’s lots of hiking, the best one yet as been from Torbole to Altissimo (Monte Baldo) for an overnight stay in the 2000+m Rifugio. I should get to try some snowsports too hopefully – skiing appeals to me and Nordic walking. I haven’t managed to find a yoga class yet, but I have bought a cheap mat and will try and find the motivation myself. I find it quite difficult though to be honest, the group energy definitely helps!
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