I have few certainties in life, and these are exclusively related to my passions. My favourite champion is Bartali. I like listening to Paolo Conte. I like red wine.
I love being outdoors and watching the world from a saddle, while all my muscles work to make my bike roll on the roads of the world. If you combine all these simple elements, spice everything up with a bit of "countryside that smells of hay and far away, in a waltz of wind and straw", as Maestro Conte sings in his nostalgic tune "Diavolo Rosso", you will understand why I am here. Me, my bike, three passionate friends and a strong desire to go cycling and discover landscapes, places, tastes and scents with which I might not be familiar but which, in a certain sense, belong to me: thanks to those who manage to depict places and atmospheres through poetry in music.
I have been planning this short holiday for months: a revitalising weekend (just like our breakfasts) to be fully enjoyed without haste and with regenerating moments for both palate and spirit: after all, we are gourmets! I have read a lot and found plenty of itineraries. We cannot follow them all, we have to make a choice.
The first stop is in Monferrato. Here the slopes are gentler and it is a good way to warm up our muscles and prepare us for the more demanding routes of the following days. We stay in one of the many bike-friendly accommodation facilities with a safe place for our modern, lightweight bikes. We are very protective of our bikes and, to paraphrase a famous slogan, we are used to saying: carbon, whatever form it takes, is forever.
Before embarking on the tours, on the evening of our arrival, we treat ourselves to a dinner to really get into the right mood: vitello tonnato, battuta di fassona and arrosto alla Cavour (veal in tuna sauce, Fassona tartare and roast in Cavour-style). We are not gluttons, we are just very careful about protein intake! Seriously, the traditional local dishes, maybe because it is very demanding to work on these hills, are ideal for those who engage in regular physical activity and have to boost their endurance. A good glass of red wine... that is a must! It would be like going to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower.
It is precisely the area's great wines that have inspired the choice of itineraries: the first two days are dedicated to the Moscato and Barbera loop trails. Since the distances are relatively short, we can stop to take pictures and visit places of historical interest. We like to fill our tours with cultural "pit stops" and want to take home some good memories.
The next stop is in the Langa. Once again we choose a facility that can provide us with everything we need: not only a safe place for our bikes, but also a peaceful place to relax. A swimming pool, absolute peace and plenty of greenery to rest our eyes on.
Amidst the Castelli del Barolo... the going gets tough. The kilometres are not so much a concern as the total ascent, which is over 1000 metres of elevation gain. Will our winter training be enough? The landscape, with its vineyards as far as the eye can see, makes up for the effort and reveals a series of small villages that look like party favours, castles and panoramic viewpoints.
The days go by quickly and we are already on our last tour, the Barbaresco tour, which takes us through the well-tended Nebbiolo vineyards and to explore the places of Cesare Pavese. He was so right: “You don't remember the days, you remember the moments”, and our short holiday was indeed marked by indelible moments.
The routes have satisfied us on all levels: landscape, culture and food and wine. We will definitely come back. Don't you want to experience the thrill of riding along the roads of the legendary "red devil" Gerbi in Lower Monferrato? Don't you want to try the Salite dei Campioni, (Champion’s ascents) where Coppi and Bartali used to compete? Don't you want to spend a few days in the Roero area, and maybe explore its many off-road trails amidst vineyards and the breathtaking scenery of the Rocche?Once again I draw inspiration from Paolo Conte and it seems as if I can see him "that nose as sad as a climb. Those cheerful eyes of an on a trip" as he tackles these hills where there is always "a bit of wind and the countryside is barking".
“You don't remember the days, you remember the moments”
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