by Casey Thompson © 2019 Bike It! Bellagio
We're nearly one month away from opening for the 2019 season. We are excited to share some new things that we have in store for this season: new bikes (2019 Bianchis), new rental accessories (power meters and Karoo GPSs), new routes, and a new weekly shop ride schedule!
You can now rent one of our Karoo Cycling GPS by Hammerhead. We have preloaded all Bike It! routes on the GPSs, and we can upload other routes of your choice based on your riding needs and wishes. We have also inserted many points of interest (POIs) to make it easier for you to find the gelato shops, or restaurants and cafes we tell you about! The touch screen is nice and visible, and the maps are clear and easy to follow. These GPSs will be a great addition for those renting MTBs, as Karoo's trails are also mapped very well. No more getting lost in the woods! And of course you can still see all of your riding stats such as distance, speed, elevation, etc.
Speaking of stats … what's missing? Watts! Great news for the data-driven cyclists--we now have power meters available for our road rentals! We offer the Stages Cycling Left Crankarm meter. It can easily be connected with any bluetooth device (including our GPS rentals), as well as switched from one bike to another. We have power meters available in 170mm and 172.5mm crankarm lengths. Add a GPS or Power Meter to your rental order here!
Try our GPS rental on one of our new routes! We say it all the time, you can spend a month or more on Lake Como and never repeat the exact same ride … there are so many possibilities! We've added three new rides to our routes list: 1 easy, 1 medium, and 1 challenging. Check them out!
Pedalata Porlezza (perfect for families and e-bikes!)
Torchio di Palanzo (an out-and-back ride to one of the oldest towns in the area)
Val Cavargna (a route for those who like to climb)
We'll be going to some of these less explored places/routes on some of our weekly shop rides--another new plan we have for this year.
From April to September, nearly every Sunday we are running a shop ride, departing from our shop at 8:30am. Our shop rides are for visiting road cyclists as well as Italian locals who want to explore and ride in different areas together. We have created ride levels to give you an idea of pace and difficulty for each ride, as well as an event for each ride on Strava. Because we are running these rides to promote cycling camaraderie (no cost), we just ask that you bring euros for ferry tickets and coffee/food if we stop. You can see the shop ride schedule here. You can sign up via e-mail or Strava!
We look forward to riding with you this season!
by Dan Merlino (guest blogger) © 2019 Bike It! Bellagio
At first, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go. The previous year we had done a tremendous tour with TriLakeComo around Como and then over to the Italian Alps to ride up the iconic Stelvio and Gavia passes--great guides, wonderful food, fantastic routes! But Rome to the Ghisallo was a 6-day pilgrimage from Rome to Como, over 500 miles with lots of climbing. Daunting! However, I love Casey and Luca and their team, so I put my faith in them. That was the right call.
The trip was spectacular. The ride started with a blessing by a priest at the Vatican and ended with a peal of bells and a welcome blessing at the bike chapel on top of Il Ghisallo! How can anything go wrong when you have divine intervention! The trip went so smoothly, perhaps because it was so well planned, with top-of-the-line Bianchi bikes, great scenery, wonderful hotels, and excellent food! All we had to do was train.
The route was epic. Bellisima! The beautiful walled city of Siena was magical. Pisa’s Leaning Tower automatically made you tilt your head. Only in Italy! And then a very backdoor, intimate ride into the Cinque Terre. We even stopped at the Bianchi factory for a visit along the final stage to see their incredible attention to quality in production.
Join us this year: 2019 Roma-Ghisallo Trip Itinerary
by Casey Thompson and Luca Negri © 2018 Bike It! Bellagio
Bike It! Bellagio is selling its fleet of Bianchi bikes from the summer 2018 rental season. (As we are purchasing new bikes for our 2019 season!) All bikes are 2018 models and were used for 7 months. All bikes will be checked out, tuned up, and washed prior to the sale, of course.
Bike models for sale include the following:
Bianchi Intenso Disc 2018
Bianchi Intenso 2018
Bianchi Sempre Pro 2018 *just 5 months in use*
Bianchi Impulso 2018
Bianchi Kuma MTB 29"
Bianchi Ascent E-MTB 27.5"
Bianchi Manhattan E-sport Hybrid
All bikes are will be available for purchase beginning October 27, 2018. Purchasers who plan to pick up their bike in person at Bike It! Bellagio must submit a nonrefundable 50% deposit to reserve the bike until October 27, with the remainder of payment due at time of pickup. Purchasers who would like their bikes to be shipped must remit full payment (bike price and shipping) prior to shipping. Each bike comes with its Bianchi manual. All sales are final.
Please call (+39 334 975 1604) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with questions or to purchase your 2018 Bianchi!
by Casey Thompson © 2018 Bike It! Bellagio
We just returned from a week-long trip to the Alps with some strong riders from the States and Canada. This is our third trip to the Alps with touring cyclists, and each time it just gets better sharing the climbs along these iconic passes. The Alps aren’t as far away from Lake Como as one may think. Bormio is just a 3-hour drive! If you have a week or two for a cycling holiday, Lake Como and Bormio make the perfect match for an unforgettable trip. Start in Bellagio with us and warm up along some pre-Alpine climbs and lakeside rolling roads, before heading to the giants northeast of Lake Como. Much of Italy’s cycling history lies between us and Bormio. It’s a great way to relive some epic Giro d’Italia and Giro di Lombardia moments with your own eyes, doing the climbs yourself! Check out some pictures below:
4 Awesome Climbs from Bormio
Passo dello Stelvio: 2,747m a.s.l., it's the highest paved mountain pass in the Eastern Alps! Seeing all the switchbacks you climb from above is certainly a great feeling. And we were fortunate to find a pro Bianchi team rider at the top!
Torri di Fraele & Laghi di Cancano: This quiet and gentle climb takes riders to the 13th century fortress tower ruins (the tower served as a border between the valleys of Bormio and Engadina) and the artifical lakes of Cancano, part of a hydroelectric plant.
Passo Gavia: Another of one of the highest paved passes in the Alps. At 2,651m a.s.l. it's often the "Cima Coppi" in the Giro d'Italia.
Passo del Mortirolo: Also known as the "Cima Pantani", this climb is also featured often in the Giro...and it's one the hardest climbs you'll ever do...we can testify!
OFF THE BIKE:
Bagni Vecchi: The "ancient" bathes of Bormio
Bagni Nuovi: The "new"/modern thermal bathes and spa
Livigno: Duty-free shopping town in the heart of the Alps ... also great for anything outdoors! Stay a night, like we did, then climb the Bernina and Forcola Passes!
by Casey Thompson and Luca Negri © 2018 Bike It! Bellagio
Italians are often described as “passionate” people. It’s not surprising, given the lengthy history and passion for the sport of cycling in Italy, that a true vocabulary of terms and expressions has been created over time. We have some cycling slang to share with you, attempting to translate the words and expressions as best we can. If you have some Italian cycling slang to add to our list, please share them with us. And we expect to hear you use some next time you ride with us and our team!
Spesso gli italiani sono descritti come un popolo "passionale”. Non c’e’ da sorprendersi quindi, vista la grande storia e passione di questo paese per il ciclismo, che in Italia si sia creato col tempo un vero e proprio “vocabolario” di termini ed espressioni utilizzate nel mondo del ciclismo. ne abbiamo raccolte alcune e abbiamo provato a tradurre e a spiegarle….anche se sicuramente per esprimere tutta la loro carica emotiva bisogna impararle in lingua originale! Partiamo con "solo” 25 termini, siete liberi di impararli e aggiungerne altri!
by Luca Negri © 2018 Bike It! Bellagio
My pilgrimages, or pellegrinaggi, to Rome have been not just a physical challenge, but a spiritual journey as well. I've cycled from Lecco to Rome, Italy—a 450-mile trip—four times so far. The first time, I was just 15 years old, cycling with my father, brother, and some friends from my small town of Castello di Brianza in northern Italy. We were cycling to Rome for the Jubilee in 2000, and we brought a plaque with us to gift to the Pope. The 2000 trip was also the only time that I returned to Lecco from Rome by bicycle.
For my second trip in 2011, we brought a stone as a gift, a donation or dono, which we took turns carrying in the rear pockets of our jerseys. This stone had been collected by a friend of ours on top of the Pizzo Stella, a mountain that represents Don Guanella, a priest who grew up nearby. That year we were going to Rome for the sanctification of Don Guanella. It was my first of three pilgrimages to Rome with Don Agostino, my priest.
My third and fourth cycling pilgrimages from Lecco to Rome were in 2015 and 2016, when I was also accompanied by Casey. This October, I am making another pilgrimage, but this time I will start in Rome and cycle 530 miles, over six days, to the Madonna del Ghisallo here in the Lake Como region in northern Italy. I will again be accompanied by my wife, Casey, as well as a group of Americans.
Famous places such as the Madonna del Ghisallo in the Lake Como area are well-known because of their sacredness. Nearly 70 years ago, Pope Pio XII proclaimed the Madonna del Ghisallo as the patron saint of cyclists. In 1949 a relay was held in which a group of cyclists rode with a large bronze torch from Rome to the Ghisallo Cycling Sanctuary. The final leg of the relay was ridden by the famous Italian cyclists Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali. Today that same torch is still lit in the center of the chapel in remembrance of the “fallen” cyclists and as a testimony of faith to the living cyclists.
Each Rome cycling trip has allowed me to meet and build friendships with other cyclists, and with each trip I have grown as a cyclist. From first being brought along at 15 years old as a complete newbie to the sport, to now leading a group of non-Italian cyclists on this trip, shows how much this experience has shaped me personally and spiritually and remained a part of my cycling lifestyle.
This six-day, 530-mile trek from Rome to the Madonna del Ghisallo above Bellagio requires motivation. It is also an opportunity for devoted cyclists to bring a dono to Rome where it can be blessed before carrying it by bike and gifting it to the Madonna del Ghisallo. This will be an amazing trip full of significance, comraderie, exploration, self-reflection, and of course cultural and gastronomical appreciation. If you are interested in joining us for this trip, please contact us. Trip details: Pellegrinaggio Roma-Ghisallo 2018
Grazie mille a Fabio Bonanomi e all'archivio foto di Casa Don Guanella per le foto.
by Casey Thompson © 2018 Bike It! Bellagio
Great news for tourists! As a non-EU tourist, you are eligible for tax reimbursements (a rebate). Specifically, residents of all countries are eligible for these “tax-free services” (except Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Monaco, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden).
We are happy to share that Bike It! Bellagio is registered for “tax-free service.” What does this mean? When you buy any physical good for personal or family use, the purchase price includes the Italian VAT (IVA) of 22%. The “tax-free service” is actually a tax rebate of 12.7%, more than half of the 22% IVA. To obtain this rebate, request an invoice from any tax-free store during your stay and then bring it to Customs upon your departure. Here are the details:
(1) Purchase goods of your choice at a tax-free store (like ours!). The total value of goods purchased must amount to a minimum total of €154.94 to be eligible for the service (the total includes tax, the IVA). Remember, this total value must only include goods.
(2) The goods you purchased must be returning with you to your home country within 3 months of the date of purchase. (*Pack your items at the top of your suitcase, in case you are chosen for a random control check.)
(3) Ask for a detailed invoice with the tax-free sticker and form from our store. We will provide you with both of these documents in an envelope to take with you to the airport. This document will specify how much of the total value is tax (IVA). (We will need a passport and credit card number to complete these forms. The credit card is necessary, even for cash purchases, because the rebate will be posted to your credit card account.)
(4) When checking in for you flight at the airport, tell the airline representative at the counter that you have tax-free items to claim in Customs. You will be directed to the tax-free office where you will present your invoice and receipts. The tax-free representative will stamp your form, then you can post the form in the prepaid envelope in a mailbox at the airport (or even back in your home country). *The envelopes are prepaid, so you will not need postage stamps.
(5) Within 1 month (ideally), you will receive the tax reimbursement posted to your credit card account. The total reimbursement will amount to 12.7% of the total you paid.
You may be wondering why the reimbursement is made by credit card and not in cash at the airport. Getting your reimbursement in cash is inconvenient, as you would receive euros and not your home currency, thus waiting for the credit card reimbursement is the preferred way to obtain your tax rebate.
If you would like to order a Bianchi bike from Bike It! Bellagio to take home with you after your stay, know that you will receive a rebate of 12.7% on the total purchase price. This 12.7% is significant savings, especially on new bikes!
What to Know When Buying a Bianchi in Italy
If you are interested in ordering a new Bianchi with us to take home with you after your stay and take advantage of the tax-free service, we recommend the following:
· Research the frame geometry and know your size before ordering. You can also send us your measurements for suggestions. Order your bike with us at least 1 month in advance of your arrival date.
· Know the cost of transporting a bike with your airline company. Depending on the airline company and where you’re flying, this cost typically ranges from 50 to 200 euro. If you purchase your bike from Bike It! Bellagio, we will provide a heavy-duty cardboard bike box, which includes several protective covers inside the box.
· Notify your local bike shop that you will need to assemble your new bike and ask for a price. Bike shops typically assemble a bike for $85-$100 in the U.S., depending on the shop and type of bike.
by Casey Thompson © 2018 Bike It! Bellagio
Bike It! Bellagio has created a Strava club to encourage YOU to get out and explore Lake Como on two wheels during your stay. Our mission is to create a small community of athletes from all around the world who have been to Lake Como and become inspired by the idea of exploration of an area through our challenges. We have created three challenges for you to take part in when you come to Lake Como! The first two promote the most famous climbs of the area and are close to home (Bellagio): The Madonna del Ghisallo and the Muro di Sormano, the two most important checkpoints of the annual Giro di Lombardia. Two of our guides from the “Easy Riders” crew, Elio and Mario, will be doing the Ghisallo and the Muro, respectively, for time, at the beginning of the season. Whoever comes closest to or matches Elio’s Ghisallo time during the season will win a prize. Whoever can beat Mario’s Muro di Sormano time during the season will win a prize as well…it may be tougher than you think! Be sure to record your activity and put it on Strava to make it count in the competition.
The third challenge is the Bike It! Bellagio Official Climbing Challenge! Every week, we will feature a new climb and route to encourage you to get out and explore! During your stay, try our featured climb (and route) of the week and see how you do, as well as see how many other traveling cyclists are exploring the same roads as you. Anywhere you ride around Lake Como is scenic, fun, and unforgettable. This is not a challenge to see how fast you can climb, but rather to value our territory and give every area of the lake that may be missed by the average traveler a chance to be explored by you! However, we do have a challenge for the locals: participate in the challenge, complete each weekly stage from March to November, and you will be rewarded with some swag!
Many athletes, at all levels, are Strava users. Strava—the “social network for athletes”—has become one of the most popular activity tracking applications since its launch in 2009. A type of social network, Strava allows users to share their rides, runs, hikes, swims, ski sessions … and so much more. I got on Strava in 2013, and I think it is one of the best apps for athletes around the world. Its idea of segments and challenges motivates many people to improve in their sport, as well as just get outside and have fun! In addition to using Strava for accomplishing segments or seeing how many minutes or seconds I am off a QOM or PR, I especially like Strava because it allows me to connect with other cyclists, runners, triathletes, and seeing their maps and photos of their typical rides or where they’re travelling! I like seeing where other people train, as it gives me an idea of what their terrain is like, and the photos let me see the beauty where they live. Our world is beautiful (especially Lake Como, Italy!), and there’s SO much to be explored. When I travel, I use Strava to look up popular rides or runs for the area. It’s a great tool that allows you to make your sport a part of your vacation time.
by Luca Negri © 2018 Bike It! Bellagio
Cycling has always played a part in the Casa Don Guanella of Lecco on Lake Como, as the community director, Don Agostino Frasson (Father Agostino), is an avid cyclist himself. As many of you may know, I worked for the Casa Don Guanella community in Lecco for 8 years, and still today I feel a part of this community and now continue to volunteer and give my support. I am on the Granfondo Don Guanella race committee, using my territorial knowledge and helping with route planning and other organizational aspects.
I remember when I began working for Don Agostino and going for out for our first, long bike rides during our free time. There were only a few of us in the beginning, but every year, more cyclists joined the group. Still today, the number of cycling friends in “Don’s group” continues to increase.
Don Agostino’s passion for cycling is infectious and his ability to promote that passion in other cyclists and cycling fans is inspiring. As he often says, “la bicicletta e’ un mezzo di evangelizzazione!” (the bicycle is a means of evangelism!”). Surrounding him is a growing community of cyclists from the region, where cycling is a beloved and highly practiced sport, representing the spirit of the area’s population. What at first seemed unrealistic, is now becoming a reality: the Don Guanella farmstead, and soon-to-be Agribike (agritourism), is under construction, thanks to the volunteer work and help from many of the community’s supporters.
It is from this spirit—to ride and work hard for yourself but also for others—that the idea for the Granfondo Don Guanella was born. All registration proceeds go toward the continued construction and improvements on the Cascina Don Guanella and AgriBike, a structure that will be a touristic reference point for cyclists and cycling fans. Its location in Valmadrera is easily accessible to the Triangolo Lariano as well as the eastern branch of Lake Como—both areas offer incredible cycling routes and destinations. Even more so, the Cascina and Agribike is an agricultural and social project for the welcoming, care, education, and insertion of alienated teenagers in the workforce in the sectors of agriculture and tourism.
The Granfondo Don Guanella is a novelty within the granfondo circuits for two main reasons: (1) its value in the cycling community of Lake Como and (2) it is the first-ever granfondo event where all proceeds go to charity. Plan to join us this May pedaling along some of the most historic roads that play a huge role in Italian cycling today.
The first race edition—October 8th, 2017—was a huge success: there were nearly 1,200 participants in the race, 800 of them attending the after party at the Cascina Don Guanella (current farmstead and future AgriBike). There were nearly 150 volunteers along the route, and several champions participated as well, supporting and promoting the event many months prior. The second edition will take place on May 27th, 2018, with the goal to continue the development of this social agricultural project-Cascina Don Guanella-dedicated to the youth in need.
Many promotional events led up to the race, featuring many champions and famous figures from the cycling world—like Cadel Evans, Alex Zanardi, Felice Gimondi, Gianni Bugno, Claudio Chiappucci, Gianbattista Baronchelli, Alessandro Ballan, Maurizio Fondriest, and many more—as well as important locals and other famous athletes.
The second annual Granfondo Don Guanella is here! Mark your calendars for May 27, 2018! This year’s event will take us to the mythical Ghisallo, as the cyclists will ride through fascinating and picturesque towns of Lake Como, like the famous Bellagio, known as the “pearl of the lake,” and Lecco. Ride with us and several champions to enjoy the solidarity among cyclists, the beauty of Lake Como, and the history of cycling, all while supporting the Cascina Don Guanella and AgriBike projects.
Support with your sport! Register today! www.granfondodonguanella.it
2018 Granfondo Route
* I want to thank Vittorio Mevio, president and race organizer of the main gran fondo circuit in Italy, GS Alpi. He has given so much to the Don Guanella community—his experience and his work—to make the Granfondo Don Guanella a reality all for charity. I thank him for the opportunity to be on the race committee.
by Luca Negri © 2018 Bike It! Bellagio
There are several beautiful cycling destinations around the world. Every place has its own unique scenery, its specialties, its challenges, and its must-see’s. If someone were to ask me what Lake Como is like—declared the most beautiful lake in the world in 2014 by the Huffington Post—the first words that come to my mind are elegance, legend, and sacred.
Elegance, because for centuries Lake Como has been a destination for “elegant tourism,” in the past referred to as elite tourism. Famous poets, musicians, authors, politicians … so many have come and continue to come to relax and admire the extraordinary, natural scenery on Lake Como, ever since the time of the ancient Romans, to more recent times by Leonardo da Vinci, Franz Liszt, Stendhal, John F. Kennedy, and, of course, George Clooney. The elegance of Lake Como is reflected by its historic villas, whose presence can be felt as you ride your bike along the lake. One villa after another, amongst small towns perched upon the lake’s limestone and granite mountains, with their simple, yet antique style, seemingly untouched by the passing of time. They are still perfectly harmonious with their surrounding nature.
A tour of Lake Como's western branch
Legend, because the legends and stories that you can breathe around the lake are still strong. The stories of Lake Como include those of defense, conquerors, hard life, mythical anecdotes about the contrabands of the past, and stories of unforgettable cycling. For example, when taking on the Ghisallo climb in the Giro di Lombardia in 1919, it was considered pure insanity, and 50 years later, taking on the Muro di Sormano was also then considered pure insanity. Today, these challenging climbs are taken on by cyclists from around the world.
However, the people from this area weren’t afraid of or discouraged from challenging themselves; they prayed to the Virgin Mary and went on. Italian cyclists’ faith continues to be an inspiration and means of support to them, and the Lake Como area is considered sacred. It’s not surprising that the only Virgin Mary for the protection of cyclists can be found here, on top of the renowned climb of Ghisallo: the sanctuary of La Madonna del Ghisallo. In 1949, the Pope acknowledged this sanctuary with a torchlight procession of inauguration from Rome, which both Italian cyclists Coppi and Bartali took part in. The sanctuary is quite small, yet full of historic memorabilia that tell the story of cycling. After 50 years, the chapel was unable to hold all of the legendary stories of the sport, so in 1999 Fiorenzo Magni founded the Ghisallo Cycling Museum, and it was built in 2000, next to the chapel, to hold antique bicycles and memorabilia with undeterminable value. Come and experience the elegance and legend of the sacred Lake Como by bike!
The Lake Como area is one of those destinations best explored on two wheels, so you can discover the local stops and enjoy the incredible, panoramic views. Each side of the Lake is different. The West is very pristine, the streets lined with villas and beautiful architecture, giving you a taste of Switzerland … the border is very close! The North is where the PreAlps begin to fade away as the Alps tower above you … the roads are quiet and more open. The valleys on the East side have a wild feel to them. The South, the Larian Triangle, home to the Madonna del Ghisallo and Muro di Sormano, contains the famous roads of the Giro di Lombardia. Going beyond the Larian Triangle into the Brianza region, the roads of il Lombardia continue with Tuscan-like landscapes and several rolling hills. The variety of cycling routes to choose from, all with their own unique beauty, is why so many cyclists return to this area—several times—as there is always something new to try! And the road conditions along and above the lake are great! A presto!
For those who have cycled in the Lake Como area, please share what you have liked best about the region.
A ride on Lake Como's "wild" side!
Riding through the hills of Brianza, south of Lake Como