Book A Cycling Tour
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Plus Share on LinkedIn Share on Email
Cycling from Geneva to Milan: a diary of day 3, Airolo to Como

Cycling Blog

Cycling from Geneva to Milan: a diary of day 3, Airolo to Como

Tweet This
Share This
Day 3 feat

July 24th, 2015

After yesterday’s monster climb, we had the pleasure of spending most of day 3 descending. It was also the first day we’d be cycling in Italy: the combination of lakeside cycling, gelato, and balmy temperatures made it an inviting prospect!

Planned / actual mileage and elevation (feet) for the day:

93.3mi / 93.7mi & 7726.4ft / 5469.2ft

And the map:

Geneva to Milan elevation and route

Click to zoom!

Thankfully there were no alarm shenanigans today and I was able to eat my breakfast at regular speed. People clapped and cheered when I appeared on time – a nice embarrassing start to the day!

Today’s route was pretty special: the 32 miles between breakfast and the first refreshment stop was entirely downhill, and we made it in around 80 minutes. The sweeping descents mean there was barely any need to apply brakes, and the temperatures – a refreshing 23° at top, 32° at bottom – didn’t require any special warming gear.

This section was where I (and probably most of us) hit the top speed on the trip: just shy of 45mph.

We rode through towns, along tracks through cornfields, through cul-de-sacs, the sun blaring on us all the while. We saw a glider spiralling down through the valley (presumably doing Glide25). It was lovely riding.

At one point we approached a small hill, knowing that the first Italian lake was on the other side. Steve wanted to take pictures and shouted “stop when you see a beautiful view!” – a redundant qualifier for next 60 miles or so!

Lake Maggiore

The astounding views we had to put up with for most of day 3

The lunch stop caught us off guard a couple of miles earlier than we were expecting, which is always a pleasant surprise. It was just a few hundred yards past the Italian border, so the top-notch pasta was very apt.

People took the opportunity to relax and unwind in and around the lake:

Paul swimming

Paul takes a dip

Steve on the slide

Steve reclines

There was a slight post-lunch malaise, where the mileage we’d done so far on the trip and the high temperatures took their toll. The average speed of the group dropped a bit.

This wasn’t a problem though – it let us cool down and appreciate the great views that come as part of a day’s cycling in Italy: we passed lake after lake, with intervening sections of tree-lined curvy roads.

The landscape seemed intent on providing endless and varied excellence, and the confectionery did the same – gelato everywhere!

Domo arogato Mr Gelato

Refreshing lakeside Gelato stop

The windiness of the route and the Swiss-Italian border meant we flirted with the border for most of the afternoon, and crossed between Switzerland and Italy a couple of times. Smudge had warned us that border guards may stop and search us, depending how zealous they were feeling, so we kept our passports handy.

No frisk

Image by Steve Reynolds

There were no stops in the end, though. Presumably groups of sweaty cyclists aren’t suspicious (nor particularly inviting as prospects for frisking).

Due to a fortuitous map error we managed to dodge a huge hill that was supposed to be on the route, which enhanced everyone’s mood slightly. Instead we had to navigate the hair-raising and traffic-filled roads that made up the final stretch, before arriving at the hotel, dumping our stuff, and clearing the bar out of beer in one round – tell them to stock up next time!

The lack of beer was remedied at desert, which was several carafes of lemoncello and ‘meloncello’: an ambitious offering, especially with the ambiguous alcohol volume and an early start in the morning!

During the briefing at dinner, one of the Scottish contingent glanced at the map and asked “what’s that pointy thing?”

“Tomorrow” was the answer. A lovely thought to take to bed the night before another hilly day.

Leave a Reply

Sign Up For Updates

* indicates required