Church bells ring out as we enter Urbino, a walled medieval city in the Marche region of Italy. We ride our bikes up and down steep and narrow cobble-stoned alleyways, stopping at a café, across from the Palazzo Ducale, the main attraction in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The palace is considered a cultural gem because of its Renaissance paintings. But on this hot day last spring we don’t have the time or energy to visit. Instead of works by Raphael and Piero della Francesca, all I want is an Americano and Diet Coke to replenish my electrolytes.
Our group of four riders - a retired Whistler realtor, two Brits and myself - is weary after several long climbs. We’re only half way into a 100-kilometre, four-hour ride. And we’re here for the romance of Italian cycling, not past artistic glories.
We’re staying at the Belvedere Bike Hotel, which has become a magnet for recreational cyclists - many of them from Vancouver - who want guided rides through the kind of hilly pastoral terrain and towns they may have seen in broadcasts of the Giro d’Italia.
The Belvedere has gained a meme-like quality among road bike riders in the Vancouver area. Or at least those who own high-priced carbon-fibre bikes, religiously check their heart rate monitors, enter Gran Fondo races and happily rise at dawn to watch live TV feeds of European Grand Tour bike races.
Not that we mind. It’s an adrenalin rush. It’s why we came to the Belvedere.
We’re happily dazed and spent when we finally dismount at the hotel. Next on the agenda is a poolside lunch, a few hours of rest watching the French Open tennis, a swim in the sea or the pool, aperitivos at dusk and a dinner buffet, with a never-ending supply of vino rosso. Eat. Ride. Drink. […]
See on theprovince.com
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