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We go cycling in Italy and – whaddya know? – it turns out nice

We didn’t mean to cycle 90-odd miles when we left the Hotel Belvedere but it was that kind of day. When Italy offers you a big ride in the sunshine, what can you do but get stuck in?

It was our second full day in northern Italy, and highlights included:

• Tough hills
• Swoopy switchback descents
• Walled towns
• A super-green gorge

First up was the ride to Urbino in the Marche region, 30-odd miles from our base in Riccione. Oh, hang on, we’re in Italy so that should be 50-odd kilometres from our base in Riccione.

If you’ve never been to Urbino, get yourself along there at some point. It’s the sort of place that people paint. It has got a wall around the edge for a start, and that has to be a good thing, and the architecture is stunning. Plus, it sits at the top of a big hill so by the time you get there you’ve earned your coffee (very reasonably priced, we thought, at €1.20 a go).

The area is hilly but not mountainous. You get quite a lot of climbs that are two or three miles long, a few climbs that are longer with a couple of dips along the way. The longest climb we did today was about seven miles although that included a bunch of flat bits and the gradient was generally pretty shallow.

We’d headed out with one of the ride groups from the Belvedere Hotel but they were heading more or less straight back from Urbino to Riccione whereas Dave had come up with a plan to check out the Furlo Gorge. One ultra-swoopy descent later and we were well on our way.

The gorge is spectacular and it has a Roman road running along the bottom so you get to ride right beside the Candigliano river. At one point most of the road has slipped into the water leaving enough room to get by on a bike but not enough for a car. That means you can gawp at the towering cliffs without having to worry about traffic. I guess you might want to worry about more of the road falling into the river, but at least you’re not going to be hassled by motorists.

Once we reached the end of the gorge it was time to start on the journey home. To be honest, we found some good roads and some not so good roads to ride back on, but that’s all part of the experience, isn’t it?

We replenished dwindling fuel reserves at a café somewhere along the way, filled up water bottles in Fano where Dave had his picture taken with Caesar Augustus. He built an arch at the entrance to the town in 2AD and it’s still there. That’s yer man Augustus, not Dave. Dave doesn’t know how to build arches.

Oh, and if you’re from Watford and you’ve seen signs saying your town is twinned with Pesaro, Italy, well, we passed through there today too on our way back up the coast. We didn’t have time to stop but if we go back later in the week we’ll say ‘hi’ from you.

All in, we did 92 miles with 1,750m climbing and laid waste to eight cappuccinos between us, two slices of blackcurrant tart, a couple of cheese and tomato pizzas, 10 Mars Bars and assorted soft drinks, plus a selection of flying insects on the descents.

As Mondays go, we'd say it was a good 'un.

 

*Actually, it's not a holiday, it's a business trip.

road.cc Italy Week 2014

road.cc is in Italy from 4-11 October at the Belvedere Hotel in Riccione.

Visit the Italy Week page to find out what we’ve been getting up to

Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.

15 comments

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seanieh66 [196 posts] 4 years ago
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Happy memories of the climbs up to Urbino.

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curdins [61 posts] 4 years ago
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How did you get there? Fly with which airline, to which airport, and did you have to pay to have your bike in the hold?

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Tony Farrelly [2989 posts] 4 years ago
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curdins wrote:

How did you get there? Fly with which airline, to which airport, and did you have to pay to have your bike in the hold?

We flew Ryanair Bristol to Bologna with bikes in the hold - £100 return, (one bent skewer, one slightly out of index rear mech - latter on my bike). Bikes cost more than we did, but four adults return with checked in luggage and bikes for £699 seems pretty good really.

BA fly to Bolonga too from London, I'm pretty sure, and I don't think you have to pay for a bike in the hold - you do have to tell them in advance though. That said, I'd be surprised if there was much difference in the overall fare.

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Miles253 [198 posts] 4 years ago
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Would love to have been there

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blakey [4 posts] 4 years ago
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 39

In danger of starting the no hat ride discussion, but last photo I have to ask is that right to promote no hats??

Responsibility of media ?

In truth I have a laisse faire attitude most of the time but from the whole article all i recall is the photo with no hat on and the pink bar tape !

Funny thing in Italy they take their hats of to climb as it gets hot then put them back on to descend. When in Rome ?

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Some Fella [890 posts] 4 years ago
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blakey wrote:

 39

In danger of starting the no hat ride discussion, but last photo I have to ask is that right to promote no hats??

Its just a normal fella out enjoying riding his bike.
Deal with it.

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giff77 [1353 posts] 4 years ago
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blakey wrote:

 39

In danger of starting the no hat ride discussion, but last photo I have to ask is that right to promote no hats??

On the same token why produce images with cyclists wearing helmets when it is not legislated in most of the world? As said, a guy out enjoying his bike...

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Paul J [962 posts] 4 years ago
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Oh for fucks sake. Someone just has to start, don't they. For what it's worth, you see lots of people in Italy cycling without near-useless plastic hats. And not just the ordinary cyclists, but roadies too.

Cycling is a comparatively safe activity (even in the UK), relative to other things people are happy to do without any special protective equipment. Statistically, cycling *adds* years to your life - hat or not.

If you're one of those people in the UK affected by the *irrational fear-mongering* of the car lobby, try and get over it. If you find that too difficult, at least try and shut the fuck up.

Thanks.

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lookmanohands [119 posts] 4 years ago
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Dont feed the troll

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blakey [4 posts] 4 years ago
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 16 don't feed the troll. Yep I agree.

We love an open forum and for a person who has posted 1095 posts I am impressed only 2 swear words.

Cycle how you want, enjoy the freedom of the road, don't worry what you wear but most of all get out there an do it. Totally agree !!

I made my piece with that a long time ago, but when a child asks why does everyone from the cycle club to the teachers to the event organisations insist i wear a hat and the man in the picture does not have to ????

So my question was to Road.cc not the legal dept, not the flamers, not the troll hunters, not the linguists.

As much as i realise now the time spent asking the question was as worthless as the time spent responding, i am over it. Going on my ride now, without my hat as my sons at school  1 DO as I say young man.

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thesaladdays [125 posts] 4 years ago
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How are the drivers out there?

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Fringe [1047 posts] 4 years ago
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10 Mars bars!?

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captain_slog [471 posts] 4 years ago
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Bologna in the autumn is foodie heaven: you should be packing arancini.

That gorge ride looks lovely. And you'd be out of the wind, too.

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manmachine [101 posts] 4 years ago
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Bellisimo!
I'm jealous...great trip lads

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Martin Thomas [384 posts] 4 years ago
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Well jel. That looks amazing.