Stuck in Italy

Due to bad planning and a missing driver’s license (I hope whoever took my wallet in the Girona grocery store is enjoying my almost-full frequent customer card at the local coffee shop in Girona), I spent a week in Castelcucco, Italy. Velo Veneto’s long-running race camps are run out of Castelcucco, and it’s a fabulous place, situated at the base of Montegrappa in the rolling hills of Prosecco country. I was only going to stay one night in Castelcucco, continue on to the Dolomites to hang out with my tired and demoralized husband Brent on the rest day of the Giro, and cheer him on in a few subsequent stages of the last week of the Giro. Unfortunately, even in Italy, one cannot rent a car without a driver’s license. 4 hours, two train rides, a bus ride, and defeated phone call later, I made it to Castelcucco.

I did all this traveling with a bike in a bike bag. It wasn’t pretty.

IMG_8007Without the car, I was stuck in Castelcucco. There would be no watching Brent race. To top it off, when I unpacked my bike I realized the airline (Ryanair) had broken the seatstay of my bike. It was a dark evening. Fortunately, I know people. Specifically, I know Jason, the co-owner of Velo Veneto. Jason arranged a bike rental, drove me to Pinzolo for the rest day, AND organized flawless frame repair by the famous Cavalera bike shop.

The guy works magic.

I ended up having an absolute blast riding around Castelcucco. I’m continually amazed by the riding around this area. The roads are downright fantastic. There are 10 ways up Montegrappa; you would have to spend a month riding all the routes. We also rode up Pianezze and Foza Both rides were adventures. On Pianezze, we ended up riding with some Italian fellows that were pretty stand-offish until they realized they wouldn’t be dropping us on the climb, and then they wanted selfies. We also rode past caves built by Italian soldiers in WWI.

The scenery in the Foza ride was incredible. We rode along in a deep valley, rolling through red tiled roof houses and villages built on the banks of a rushing river until we left the valley behind. We climbed up to a small village perched above the clouds, surrounded by spruce and fir forest and a sheep pasture. We had coffee in a quiet town built around a stunning white cathedral with views all the way down to the river in the valley below.

If you are a cyclist and a lover of the Italian countryside, I highly recommend getting “stuck” in Castelcucco.