For cyclists, there are certain elements that are deemed unattainable, elusive yet eternally appealing, such as chancing upon roads in the Alps that are completely devoid of traffic, trustworthy pieces to the puzzle that’ll make climbing that bit easier without having to resort to PEDs. Or what about the even more unachievable aim of teaming family time with a road riding holiday?
Adventure, wellness and heavy legs: after a long weekend on Alpe di Siusi, there’s both good news and bad news in equal measure. The bad news: we’re not there anymore. The good: we’ll definitely be back!
Alpe di Siusi – Home is where your heart is
The Stelvio, the Rombo, the Sella Ronda – Despite South Tyrol’s undeniable status as the ultimate riding region for ticking off legendary passes, our most recent travel story was unlikely to include a single ‘named’ pass. This trip was about exploration, and an attempt to forge some sort of bridge between two polar ideas.
Just five hours from Stuttgart, Alpe di Siusi lies between the Brenner Autobahn and Bolzano. It’s a location that has long been on the radar of passionate road cyclists, and even the 2016 Giro d’Italia nodded its head in agreement, lining the roads for the brutal mountain time trial from Castelrotto to Compaccio, a fierce stage that saw Nibali forced to change his bike leaving many thinking that his race was over.
It’s a scenario that plays out in millions of households across all continents on a yearly basis: heated debates and impassioned negotiations about holiday destinations between the government (your partner), the democratically elected opposition (that must be the kids, then) and your own ambition to cloak a training camp into what you purport as a family holiday. But the result is pretty homogenous whatever your geographical location: either you’ll end up with five days of solid riding and evenings spent suffering in front of the morose expressions of those you left behind at the hotel, failing to hide their annoyance and boredom. Or, you sacrifice your own riding while looking enviously at every single cyclist that passes you on the enforced family hike.
However, perhaps you’re one of the fortunate few that are oblivious to this sort of scenario – in which case, congratulations! You’re closer to the answer of the ultimate question (42 if you were wondering!) and have earned the right to ride on Alpe di Siusi. However, for those who are chasing their tails around the elusive ride-life balance: this location is the answer, offering the best of both worlds: satisfying the appetite of determined athletes (who are obviously also committed to their families and/or work), as well as captivating said families with the ultimate means to spend quality time. For the record: those without families should still head there too – after all, offspring aren’t a perquisite for appreciating delicious food, spectacular scenery and first-rate gin!
As it requires a special permit to drive a vehicle on Alpe di Siusi, you’re unlikely to encounter many cars (unlike certain hair-raising, campervan-crowded passes). Ideally you’ll want a cyclocross or a gravel bike; the ultimate tool for riding up long climbs and exploring far from the tarmac – plus, they’re comfortable enough for leisurely rides with the family later in the day. Call it ‘active regeneration’ and rope in the whole clan – any complaints and they could hire an e-bike.
Why take pleasure when you can whine and moan?
Yes: e-bikes. If the word itself was enough to startle you and unbalance the precariously propped-up iPad, then take a break: it wasn’t just a rhetorical question but also an ironic one! We’ll be the first to admit that we thrive on sporting endeavors, pushing ourselves until our muscles are heavy and worn – but does every act of our lives have to be set at a sweat-inducing pace? What if easing back is the key to family happiness? (Not that we did much of that; our days were largely spent drenched in sweat up on the mountain, but more on that later).