Ever get the feeling that your spouse, your colleagues and even your friends adopt a somewhat vacant, distant look as you launch into the day’s cycling story, with your enthusiastic accounts of climbing a certain col met with glazed-over eyes? Too many watts and too many mentions of heart rates perhaps, and you’ve lost your audience. So take heed of this article – it could be key to regaining their attention.

“Haven’t you got to really live a story before you can tell it?”

Cycling has an unbelievable power to fascinate us. Now, more so than ever, it’s riding a wave of unbridled popularity, and everyone wants to emulate the pros. Hold on, seriously? Think again: don’t we have it pretty sweet on our own terms? After all, we can pick our kits, our routes and the parts on our beloved bike. You could even argue that us amateurs have got more freedom and more opportunities. So how do you feel about a quick springtime trip to Italy?

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“The Giro is a carnival.”

Each year throughout May, Italy turns pink. The tifosi take over the streets, flanking hairpins and celebrating cycling and its heroes at a literal arm’s length. And Italy wouldn’t be Italy if the celebrations didn’t continue long after those fleeting seconds as the riders pass by in a whir of sweat and suffering. The Italian spectators grab the Giro roughly by the hands and use it as an excuse to pour more prosecco and red wine down their throats.

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Consequently, following the Giro on your bike might not be the worst holiday you’ll ever take. Although you’d better get a wiggle on: for those that want to grind their way up legendary Italian passes just hours before the pros, you’ll get your own taste of the tifosi, hearing their shouts of ‘vai, vai, forza.’ And if you manage to raise your fatigued head from its now cemented position watching your watts dwindle, then this is your chance to acquaint yourself with one of Italy’s most wonderful and welcoming sides.


Cycling is a common denominator; an invisible band that brings people together, no matter what their heritage is. For this year’s Giro, we happened to be riding with Dave from Canada, who’d brought his wife over to Italy for a two-week cycling holiday to follow the Giro and climb some of the greatest roads in the Dolomites. During this period we soaked up exactly what the pros miss out on: the views; the curiosities, craziness and passion of the Italian cycling fans that flank the roads; and the odd impromptu refreshment stop at the bequest of some friendly tifosi where we were begrudgingly served prosecco, olive tapenade and parmesan cheese in abundance. These are the sorts of stories that don’t just warm your heart as you struggle to return to normality after your trip, but they’re also pretty good fuel for those stories once you get home.


The best routes to ride in the region:

Our pick of the top hotels in the region:


This article belongs to the GRAN FONDO Issue #002. For the full interactive experience we recommend reading it in our magazine app for iPhone & iPad – it’s awesome – and free!

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Words & Photos: Robin Schmitt