Riding Prosecco Cycling with Garda Bike Hotel, by Terence Mauri
Terence Mauri is an avid cyclist and the bestselling author of The Leader’s Mind-set
Photo: Terence Mauri climbs one of the Prosecco Hills of Conegliano
Terence, the Prosecco Gran Fondo is a cycling celebration at the end of prosecco harvest, what drew you to ride it?
I really wanted to immerse myself in what is known as “La Dolce Vita” (Italian for “the good life”).
Unplug from the modern world and reconnect with just myself for a while. I’ve coined the phrase, “Digital Detox”.
Plus the chance to ride with 2,000 other cyclists, celebrating the harvest, with waiters waving bottles of Prosecco at the peloton, the energy, the atmosphere, the excitement and most importantly the gourmet food!
The Prosecco Hills of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene are recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. What was it like?
Before the race, Garda Bike Hotel had arranged several visits to famous local wineries for wine and food tasting where we learnt how Prosecco is made. We visited several local restaurants too. Very immersive and truly authentic, because of Nicola Verdolin’s (Garda Bike Hotel’s founder) immense passion, knowledge and experience. We stayed in Villa Sandi, a grand, family-owned villa, prosecco winery and historical estate.
We took a guided a cycle ride and visited the Pinarello factory near Trevisio and got to meet the owner Fausto Pinarello, whose father Giovanni “Nani” Pinarello founded the brand back in 1953.
Riding the Gran Fondo brings back a whole range of emotions, the visual beauty, the warm air, the smell of the vineyards. The camaraderie and shared experience of riding in a huge international field of like-minded cyclists all working together. The huge fanfare, excitement and rush of adrenalin at the start!
The incredible warmth of the local people who came out in their thousands to encourage and support everyone as we rolled through ancient villages. It’s the closest you’ll get to ride a professional stage of a Grand Tour like the Giro d’Italia or the Tour de France!
Of course there was Prosecco on tap, but like many, I didn’t drink while I was actually cycling. I saved that for later! The food stops were sublime, your choice of local delicacies’ from the Trevisio region including Scampi and Shrimp. The huge selection of traditional cheeses, olives and prosciutto were to die for. It was hard to tear myself away and continue on!
Photo: The beautiful and breath-taking views of the Prosecco Hills of Conegliano in Northern Italy
Terence, how long have you been cycling and what got you hooked?
I’ve been cycling since the age of five. It became a real passion of mine 6 years ago when I discovered Garda Bike Hotel.
Ironically, I was in Rome visiting family when I came across Garda Bike Hotel online. Being a family run hotel with varied terrain ideal for cycling, really grabbed my attention.
My first visit to Garda Bike Hotel was a catalyst to ride and challenge myself more and more.
What bikes do you ride?
I had a Canyon to begin with, but I ended up purchasing one of Garda Bike Hotel’s bikes. A white carbon Pinarello Gan, which I had the pleasure of riding while staying there. I fell in love with the Pinarello's signature Asymmetric profile which is ideally suited for longer endurance based rides like Gran Fondo’s and Sportives.
Photo: Terence Mauri and his Pinarello Gan on the shores of Lake Como
How many other Gran Fondo’s or other cycling challenges have you ridden?
I’ve completed the very tough Majorca 312 on the island.
I’ve also had the privilege to ride from the base in Rio de Janerio all the way up to the statue of Christ the Redeemer at over just 700 metres above sea level.
Cycling in Hong Kong was an experience, due to the humidity cycling doesn’t really start until the evening where you can ride around 40km with continual gradients of 9% up and down.
Cycling around the beautifully stunning and scenic Lake Como in the Gran Fondo is another favourite of mine.
Photo: Prosecco Cycling takes you along closed roads through the stunning and incredibly quiet Italian countryside
Did you take your own bike to Italy?
No need! It’s so much easier to rock up and get a professional fit bike from Garda Bike Hotel’s professional, warm and friendly staff, plus they have all the latest Pinarello bikes you can only dream of.
Another plus is the experience and knowledge of the Garda Bike Hotel’s guides who arrange group rides of no more than 8 cyclists. Depending on your ability and form on the day there’s always a perfect group to ride with. Plus I’m safe in the knowledge that every time I go back, I have room for improvement as I grow as a cyclist.
I love the hotels’ family atmosphere and I tend to go there on a solo basis, there’s always familiar faces.
People go back year after year, I visit 4 or 5 times a year and have done for the past 6 years!
One observation I’ve made is the accommodation, care and respect given to cyclists by Italian drivers. Cycling is Italy’s national sport and pretty much everyone has a friend or family member who cycles. They regularly give a group of cyclist’s the right of way at roundabouts, leaving you with a smile, warm glow and a fuzzy feeling!
Photo: The Garda Bike Hotel group rode from the hotel to visit the legendary Pinarello Factory towards Treviso
What was the atmosphere like at the start and where were you?
With Garda Bike Hotel you’re a VIP at all times so it was in the front pen, just behind the elite riders and special guests.
You get a head start on 2,000 cyclists behind you which is great if your goal is to race, personally mine was to get round and enjoy the experience.
The start is very loud, exciting with Nessun Dorma Aria from Turandot in the background. Again, it’s the closest you can get to ride a professional race, as you wind through many villages with thousands of locals clapping and cheering you along on the closed roads!
Did you finish and how did you compare to your ambitions or race strategy?
My goal was to get round and have as much fun as possible. Some of the other Garda Bike Hotel guests were going for their personal best time.
I was there to soak up the atmosphere and the sites along the 98.4 km route that featured nearly 1,700m of climbing.
There were four timed climbs, the Salita Zuel di Qua (1,400m, 10.4%), the Muro di Ca’ del Poggio (850m, 13.4%), the Salita Via del Colli (650m, 11.4%), and the Salita di Collato (1,500m, 6.3%). You can take part in the individual and team KOM/QOM challenge if you wanted to.
With gradients up to 15%, it was challenging in a fun way. I persevered. I had to continually push myself against my limits, especially on the steeper and longer climbs. However, you’re surrounded with like-minded people from all over the world, where the special camaraderie motivates you to perform at your best. There were cyclists of all ages, and it amazed me to see several super fit cyclists in their 70’s!
Photo: All smiles as Terence Mauri crosses the line to complete Prosecco Cycling, a battle against the hills and the gourmet food stops!
What was the VIP after party and Prosecco like!?
It’s the closest thing you’ll ever get to finishing a stage of the Tour de France with thousands lining the finish, all cheering and clapping.
There’s a gigantic cake awarded to the slowest rider.
Everything is laid on at the after party, with your own special VIP area. After a challenging exhilarating ride, you can eat and drink what you want. Local delicacies include meats, cheeses, ham and focaccia bread. A Smorgasbord the of finest artisan food. Expresso Ice Cream and award winning prosecco and fine wines.
You can reminisce on your day with the special photographer on hand, plus the Beautiful villa Sandi is just a small drive away from the finish line.
Photo: Terence Mauri and the Garda Bike Hotel group familiarise themselves with the course
How did Garda Bike Hotel make your day special?
The staff are so professional and friendly, they remember things about you and their attention to detail is world-class.
When on group rides, there was a packed lunch ready with a map and briefing explaining the day’s itinerary by each guide. Bikes all cleaned, serviced and ready to go.
After cycling you could relax in the swimming pool, have a massage, or just read a book.
All you have to do is concentrate on enjoying the experience by bike.
It’s very difficult to match Garda Bike Hotel anywhere else in the world!
For you what were the highlights of your trip, the food, the sites, the culture and the people?
The Gourmet experience, the incredible cycling and camaraderie, connecting with so many different people, the vineyards, and the cyclists.
I came away rejuvenated and more present with a renewed passion and zest for life.
Photo: The beautiful and breath-taking views of the Prosecco Hills of Conegliano in Northern Italy
Gran Fondo Guide rated Garda Bike Hotel’s friendly and extremely professional staff above five star service, which blew us away, would you agree?
If Carlsberg could design a hotel for cycling it would be Garda Bike Hotel!
Would you agree that Garda Bike Hotel is without doubt the best choice if you don’t speak the language and come from abroad, wanting an authentic experience?
If you want a truly authentic VIP Italian experience, look no further!
Photo: Terence Mauri and the Garda Bike Hotel group outside the Pinarello Factory
Garda Bike Hotel are renowned for repeated visits from clients, how many times have you stayed there and are you planning your next visit?
Again as I stated, people go back year after year, I visit 4 or 5 times a year and have done for the past 6 years!
Now that I can fly quarantine-free from the UK to Italy and things are pretty much back to normal, I’m thinking about the Giro d’Italia in October this autumn.
Photo: Terence Mauri and the whole Garda Bike Hotel group who rode Prosecco Cycling
Overall how would you rate Garda Bike Hotel out of 10?
11 out of 10!
Ride Prosecco Cycling with Garda Bike Hotel this September 27, 2020
This is Garda Bike Hotel founder Nicola’s favorite event of the year, because it combines cycling with a gourmet experience! And, it’s a unique gran fondo in several ways: you are only timed on select climbing portions of the course, and not the entire route, so you can ride hard when it counts, and enjoy yourself during the rest of the ride; the roads are completely closed to traffic, and…instead of bananas at the rest stops, we eat Shrimp Scampi and drink Prosecco!
Join over 2000 cyclists for one of the highlights of the Gran Fondo cycling scene in north-east Italy. This is a brilliant Italian Gran Fondo cycling event celebrating the end of season Prosecco harvest. The start line for the Prosecco Cycling Gran Fondo is in the centre of Valdobbiadene where you will be sent off to the sound of the Nessun Dorma Aria from Turandot, with waiters waving bottles of wine at the peloton. After this dramatic departure, it’s a short climb before setting off for a fast, winding descent through the hills and Prosecco vineyards of North-Eastern Italy. Very much an end of season celebration of riding and wine and food.
We initially attended this Granfondo in 2009, and it was a spectacular event. The Prosecco Cycling features a unique route that has been successfully tested over the last few years. Last year, the route was 98.4 kilometers and had a total altitude of 1680 meters.
Join Garda Bike Hotel and participate in this marvelous experience!
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