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Northern Italy Bike North Tour

Alison Pryor | Published on 10/25/2023

This article focuses on the route – a linear tour from Innsbruck to Verona. The region has many of the elements that make for great easy paced cycle touring:

· Signposted cycle route that is largely traffic-free, with good path surfaces or quiet sealed roads, do-able distances between towns for overnight options, other villages on route for coffee or lunch stops.

· Commonly the route will be mentioned in the ‘best cycle travel’ articles, blogs and web pages of a particular country or region. This route/ region comes up in many of the ‘best of Italian cycle touring’ blogs.

· Variations in scenery, history, culture, food and agriculture or land type etc as you cycle through local regions, along specific attractions worth visiting on route.

· The occasional attraction eg – checking out a high end mountain bike expo in Brixen; or seeing the hand picker workers in the grape harvest in action .

Lake Garda

· Has companies that offer self-guided cycle tour packages on the route, (noting nearly all tour companies that off self-guided tours in a region will do private itineraries on the route for groups of 6 or more). We went through Eurobikes as private group self-guided tour package.

· Start and end locations with fast rail or other regional transportation options and are major attractions in themselves to visit – and add at least one extra day at the beginning and at the end – Innsbruck and Verona certainly have that.

· Access to shuttle services to transportation on any main mountain pass as part of tour package or (scheduled shuttles are also available to independent tourers to book as well).

· As well as the main linear routes – have other great cycling routes in several of the places that would be good be added day rides or staying 2 nights in some locations.

Over the past 20+ years there has been civic investment in the cycling routes in the South Tyrol and Trentino regions that link each of the main towns in the region. These provide opportunities for cycle commuters and local recreational riders and walkers but also have built local economic development around active holidays/slow tourism for the region. Similar long distance traffic free paths like the Inn river path and related cycle tourism packages have been in place in Austria for even longer.

The Innsbruck to Verona route also had the benefit of a local train route nearby much of the route – as a backup transport option. In our case it allowed two partners of riders who were not into cycling to come on the tour and take the local train each day.

We generally did 50km on the path routes each day and a few more kilometres in areas of towns getting to our hotel. You can do the same route as sportier version doing 100km per day and staying in fewer places. Personally, I like cycle touring as a slow form of travel and the distances were just right, it meant staying in two smaller villages as well as the more impressive towns to sightsee in but that allowed one or two afternoons of a few hours chill time. Most days starting cycling at 9am we were in next overnight location by 2pm or 3pm.

The route is classified as easy – and the sections along the river which made the bulk of the ride quite flat. Anytime the route left the river base there were often short climbs for a kilometre or two, and as we added visiting Lake Garda, riding back out the next morning gave the opportunity for some to test their climbing skills. The views were worth it.

The cycling routes for the tour are all mapped in Bike North route library on Ride with GPS including where the café or lunch stops were. In the Filter by Tags search box type ‘Tour – Overseas’ and each day’s ride will appear.

· Optional day ride in Innsbruck on the Inn River path

· Upper Valle Isarco cycle track: from the Austrian/Italian border at Brenner / Brennero to Sterzing then to Brixen / Bressanone

· Valle Isarco cycle track: Brixen/Bressanone to Klausen/Chiusa and then Bolzano

· Trentino-Alto Adige Path (this is also part of EuroCycle Route 7) Bolzano –Auer – Trento following the river. Or for the Bolzano – Auer section Oltradige ‘wine road’ cycle track: a recommended variation a little away from the river: Bolzano – Kreuzweg to Auer. Or take the ‘stay flatter’ option and continue along on the Adige River path to Auer. Auer to Trento is on the Trentino-Alto Adige river path.

· On the ride from Trento we added a variation after Roverto for our group to visit the north end of Lake Garda and stay overnight at Torbole – this also had cycle route all the way.

· Adige Canal path – from Ala, then back roads up into the nature park before joining the canal path again into Verona.

You could easily spend an additional four days in the region and include riding other long distance cycle route that link in at Brixen; Bolzano and Trento, as well as shorter but spectacular rail trails or other day rides in the small valleys further into the mountains.

Even around this base route there are a few different options – one of the other companies spend two days along the Inn river path in Austria taking it closer to the Swiss border then shuttle up the Reschen Pass and follow Adige river via Merano to Bolzano. Others have the cycling route booked onto the ferry for the length of Lake Garda.

There was something different to see in each of the larger towns – markets, cathedrals, or castles, seeing different layers of history in the streetscapes or buildings of larger towns – roman; renaissance and modern; cable cars to mountain views (some you could even ride back down).

We had some rain in Innsbruck but there were enough indoor things to visit – fascinating castles and museums to visit there. The rest of the trip was in glorious sunshine making the most of the river views or of the Dolomites in the background.

Tune in next week for part two on group cycle touring – how do you wrangle 17 people on international tour!

Alison Pryor – Ride Leader

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