4 North­ern Italy

Bikes Etc - - TRAVEL -

On top of Passo del Ghisallo – a climb close to Lake Como in Lom­bardy – is a white-walled church called the Madonna di Ghisallo. Out­side are four busts. Three are of Ital­ian cy­cling leg­ends Al­fred Binda, Gino Bar­tali and Fausto Coppi, while the fourth is of Fa­ther Ermelindo Vigano who, in 1949, de­clared the Madonna the pa­tron saint of cyclists. Fit­tingly, the inside of the church is a shrine to the sport with the walls adorned with pink and rain­bow jer­seys signed by the leg­ends who wore them, yel­low­ing pho­tos and even bikes – in­clud­ing the one Fabio Casartelli was rid­ing when he was fa­tally in­jured dur­ing the 1995 Tour de France. It’s pow­er­ful stuff set in a land­scape of over­whelm­ing beauty and to reach it you’ll need to do a bit of suf­fer­ing your­self by over­com­ing Ghisallo’s as­cent. The 10.6km looks a mild chal­lenge on pa­per, spit­ting out an aver­age gra­di­ent of just 5.5%. But you don’t cy­cle on pa­per and in re­al­ity, much of the tar­mac rises at in­clines closer to 9%. The good news is that the tem­per­a­tures here in au­tumn are ideal for cy­cling. In Septem­ber, they aver­age 18°C/64°F while in Oc­to­ber, they cool to 13°C/55°F. The Ghisallo is just one great ride to be had here, too, with the 160km flat­tish route cir­cum­nav­i­gat­ing Lake Como it­self an­other you could tackle over the course of a week­end.

FLIGHT TIME: 2hrs PRICE: Flights only from ap­prox £35 re­turn to Mi­lan MORE INFO: co­mo­lago­b­ike.com

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