Isn’t life weird? On minute you’re sitting at home in Devon cuddling the cats whilst working on your freelance projects, the next you’re called to a meeting in Italy with a potential job in the offing.
I’ve been happily self-employed for quite some time now, writing and shooting pictures for various magazines and websites, running Coven Magazine, blogging, marketing, cycling, representing my sponsors, oh, and training as a British Cycling coach. I wasn’t actively searching for something else, but still kind of keeping an ear to the ground for opportunities – as a freelancer that’s just a natural instinct, so when someone told me about a job they thought I’d be good for in beautiful Lake Como my interest was most definitely piqued!
The meeting went well, so less than a month later I’m here – newly located in the Italian Alps with my husband and four cats and I’m trying to settle into a new country, learn a new language and get to know a new team at work.
As a ‘normaliser,’ I’m trying to ride my bike as much as possible so that the whole thing isn’t as much of a headf***k, and exploring such an iconic location for cycling has been an absolute dream. I’m also continuing with my freelance work too as I’m not at all willing to sack it all off. So I’m pretty busy
Our very first day we headed straight up the Passo Agueglio which rises up from our house on the hillside – itself already a series of switchbacks. We had no idea where we were going at all, but thought it looked kinda cool up there and seeing as we had all day it didn’t matter too much where we went.
It turned out that Passo Agueglio is pretty high – our short 47km ride involved 2,582m of climbing but I actually didn’t find it bad at all… In Devon the roads tend to go straight up at a pretty intense gradient whereas the neatly stacked switchbacks of the pass actually mellow out the mountain and make it easier. So whilst you might be climbing for a longer period of time it’s actually less of a grunt.
For our next ‘proper’ ride we decided to head down from our hillside retreat to ride the ‘lake road’ that circumnavigates… you guessed it – the lake! This again was nothing at all like the riding I’m used to, being almost entirely flat – flat roads are rare as hen’s teeth back in Devon. It was fantastic to be able to pedal for hours without wondering whether you’d total screw yourself and not be able to get home, something I sometimes had at the back of my mind when exploring Devon as you never know if an absolute monster of a hill is around the corner. In the end we rode from Varenna round to Menaggio and back – 115km with only 2,313m of climbing, which is pancake flat by Devon standards!
So with the mountains rising vertiginously from the water’s edge, it seems in Lake Como you either go all the way up a mountain and back, or you pedal for hours without ever getting tired as it’s flat. Neither of those seem bad options though I’m keen to hear any suggestions of where to go next. I’d like to squeeze in Stelvio if we’ve time before winter shuts it down, and a revisit of Madonna Del Ghisallo and Muro Di Sormano are a given. So what else has the area got to offer? Are there any mountain bike parks or trails nearby?How about skateparks or velodromes? Answers on a postcard please – I’d be ever so grateful for some tips from the locals.