I've not blogged for a while, as I was away biking in Italy for a week, then straight into a lovely chilled family week on Arran. Lucky Bowser.
I could write up the Italian week as a daily blog, but I think that would be a bit monotonous, so I'm just going to summarise the best and worst bits.
Klaus, Des and I flew into nice airport on Saturday the 20th of July and were met by some other guests and Ady n Rich - two of our guides with Riviera bike. 2 hours later and we had arrived in our base for the week, molini di Triora in the Ligurian Alps.
As the hotel was exceptionally busy, the three of us and Robins' mate Jon from Tunbridge wells were given a three bed apartment in the village, complete with the terrace above! We lucked out there. Molini is a small town, but has a few bars and shops, perfect for the week ahead. The wee shop across the road would put any deli in Glasgow to shame.
Breakfast in the hotel was a it of an endurance test at times, as we were stuck with salami, cheese,superhardboiledeggs and toast. Not bad but after a few days I was yearning for some fruit!. Where the hotel came to life was at dinner time. After riding in this area, mounds of food is required, and that is exactly what you get!. 5 courses of it....
Lovely, rustic, authentic Italian food. Highlights were the wild mushrooms, risotto, rabbit and also the stuffed courgette flowers, so much more, in fact it was all really bloody good!.
Molini is also exceptionally cheap, as it's not a tourist trap, so you are charged realistic prices for a small rural Italian town. €2.50for the best bruschetta you've ever tried is not bad, and €2 for a glass of red is fantastic. Not to mention the star of the show, torta verde, a staple of the locals, it's a thin pastry tart stuffed with all sorts, but mainly arborio rice, spinach and egg. This became a daily staple in the backpacks for a nice salty mid-ride snack. Far better than our fast food here....
We were split into two groups for the holiday, our group being the faster, most experienced group, so we generally only had one guide, whereas the other group usually had two. Klaus, Des, Jon and myself were joined by 3 riding buddies from the north of England. Matt who was a really good rider, Rob the racist and Steve who had the weirdest looking body parts known to man. An elbow that could take an eye out and a toe that looked as if it could put it back in again!. Quite a funny guy though, but typically (being from Yorkshire) was as tight as a gnats chuff.
The other group was made up of a couple of smashing lads from the RAF in Lincoln, an older Swiss dude who could apparently climb like Edmund Hillary, a Russian assassin, a young lad from Bristol and a married couple from Northumberland. A bigger pair of ignoramus's you would struggle to meet. That's as far as I'm going with that....
Ady - co-owner with Jo, can be a bit opinionated and officious, but a very good guide and a nice guy.
Jo - only really rode with her once or twice, a lovely person and the brains of riviera bike.
Rich - my favourite, an awesome rider who was a joy to ride behind, as he seems to be able to eke every last bit of fun out of every trail. Seemingly he's only been riding for 4 years, frighteningly good.
Innes - only 17 and guiding for summer pre-uni cash, but also a very good rider, and into all that emodeathtrashmetal type music that Des is into.
Some folks on internet forums would have you believe that RB can be quite disorganised or worse, we never found this at all, really well run operation, and very helpful at all times.
|Innes, Rich, Ady and the elbow...|
And most importantly - the riding...
Amazing. I couldn't even try and remember all the trail names and details, as there is so much great riding. The riding is well supported with minibus uplifts, with generally an hour or so climbing left to go on the bike, but some days it was all uplifted, leaving all the downhill fun to us.
My favourite rides? Probably the big ride on the third day that ended up over the border in France! A van uplift to 1700m, then a good bit of climbing left us topping out on a beautiful alpine flowery meadow at 2200m with a hhhuuggee massive descent down to 600m in the French village of la brigue. 42 switchbacks on the way down keeps you on your toes too. Then van uplifted leaving an awesome bit of descending down into molini and a cold beer. Can days get any better than this? (Wedding day and birth of my child apart, obviously, ahem...) ;-)))
The riding is very tough, very rocky and really steep in places. The hire bike I had (my new frame not coming in time, and this is not hardtail country) was ideal, apart from the dreaded avid brakes. Pile. Of. Dung.
After 7 or 8 minutes of body battering descending, your arms are on fire, and calves are screaming for a rest. Brilliant!.
We also had a days riding down near the coast, as one of the earlier mentioned nitwits was determined to ride near the beach (go on a beach holiday then you muppet) which wasn't that good, but was totally uplifted, with 4 descents from over 400m to sea level.
I only had a couple of tumbles, and not a single puncture or mechanical the whole week, as did Klaus, but we'll not mention Des's woes!.
The bag of death. I remember once I discovered a dead bird out my back garden that the at had killed and left to rot. It was covered in maggots and up until Thursday the 25th of July 2013, it was also the worst thing I have ever inhaled. Once the culprit was discovered, a 4 day old egg in the bottom of the big fellas bag, there were beer fuelled 'accusations' of jiggers pokery and high jinx, but nay, it was self inflicted (but understandable, as we were rather rough on the morning the egg made its way into the pack in question!). So bad was the smell, it was ousted from the van and strapped to the trailer!.
^^^^^ the lagoon up the valley from the village. What a stunning place, pictures really don't doing justice at all, even these two rippling bodies don't help....
|Des's bike in a familiar pose...|
|Ever seen 'Hangover'?|
|My bike. Sometimes a wee prayer helped!.|
I may post up some more musings, but I'm about done now. Would I go back? I'd say no, but only because I don't generally think places can be as good the second time, but I'd recommend anyone to go, amazing riding, location, food and people. The Italian people in the village are amongst the friendliest people over ever encountered. I also don't know if I'd go for a whole week again, as most of these companies do 4 days, so you have 3 days solid riding, no rest days and after a week I really miss Maz and Maria. High season doesn't really suit either, as Maz gets 2 weeks off, so that leaves us one week together. I'd probably use my week off in April, may or June next time.
And then I had a brilliant week in lamlash with Maz and the wee yin, awesome!. Some pics to follow, but no bikes!.