Bike Trip Report
Torino - Torino bikepacking
Written by: Joost HIemstra
"Do you want to go cycling with me in the Alps?" I didn't had to think too long about that question.... Our rideleader Ewout invited me, Maats co-founder Joost, a while ago to join him on a 7 day-adventure in the Alps. The plan was to go bikepacking near the French-Italian border on some challenging roads, mostly sealed but with also some promising gravel included. Let's go!
Day 1: Torino - Susa
After a smooth flight from Amsterdam to Torino we assembled our bikes and rolled towards Susa to spend the night. Ewout had a creative route with some rad backroads included. Of course we couldn't resist the urge include a few coffeestops to get our Italian espresso fix before we arrived in Susa.
The next day promised to be something special so: Early to bed, early to shred!
Day 2: Susa - Col delle Finnestre - Cesana Torinese
Day 2 was one of the toughest and beautiful days of the trip. Starting from Susa, the Col Delle Finnestre was the highlight of the day. Cycling fans will probably know this brutal climb from the Giro D'Italia. The ascend is mainly sealed but halfway this changes to a rocky gravel road. The climb is very tough but rewarding at the same time as the vistas are spectacular and the road is not too crowded. After this climb we descended into the valley where the start was of the climb towards the olympic town Sestriere. We ended this day with an easy descent to Cesana Torinese.
Our favorite clothing of this trip:
Day 3: Cesana Torinese - Puy St. Vincent
On day three we rode into France where we met our mate Simon who is currently living in Puy St. Vincent with his girlfriend Annie. Simon would join us for the rest of the day which started with a nice steady gravel climb of 8 km at 7% average and ended with a gravel descent that Ewout really loved.
Simon showed us around Briancon and took us to a French Patisserie for some incredible croissants. After this we headed towards to last climb of the day that led us to the Alpine village Puy St. Vincent where we stayed at bike-friendly mountain Hotel St. Roch where Annie is head chef and Simon works as marketing manager.
Day 4: Rest day at Puy St. Vincent
We used day 4 mainly for relaxing although we had a chill ride together with Simon and Annie. Especially Ewout enjoyed the fast MTB-style downhills a lot!
Day 5: Puy St. Vincent - Col D'Agnel - Sampeyre
After a chill day the 5th stage brought us to Col D'Agnel, the third hightest sealed road of the Alps that reaches a staggering altitude of 2744 meters. This impressive climb was very tough especially when the elements turned against us with rain and heavy headwinds. The harder the climb, the bigger the smile when reaching the top so we were both super happy to make it! Fun fact is that the highest point is also the French-Italian border which is indicated by a line on the road.
After a steep, beautiful and very long descent the winding valley roads took us all the way to Sampeyre, a small Italian town where we stayed that night.
Day 6: Sampeyre - La Morra
`The sixth stage promised us some well earned culinary rewards as we where going towards the famous Barolo wine region. The day started with a long downhill towards the Po Valley where we would reach the lowest point of the trip. We had to climb over some lovely hills before reaching our hotel in La Morra and this day it was very clear that Joost was the strongest rider of the day.
Day 7: La Morra - Torino
The last day of our trip felt like the traditional final stage of the Tour de France: we were both happy to have made this far and the legs were hurting a bit after all KMs of the past week. There was a lot of banter and jokes going on in the peleton before the final climb of the trip: the beautiful Basilica di Don Bosco.
After some steep sections of 15% and a strong performance by Ewout we made it to the top which gave us an amazing overview of Torino. We were very happy to reach the hotel and check out the Torino nightlife before we departed back home to Amsterdam the next day.
Would I do it again?
For me it was the first time going on a multi-day bikepacking trip so of course I was very curious how I would experience it. To give a short answer to the question above... When are we going again?!
I had heaps of fun as the route that Ewout created was challenging but not too extreme. Would I recommend it? Yes, for sure. I do think it will help a bit if you have some experience with longer climbs and also have ridden some difficult-ish gravel as the combination of those two can be a bit tricky in going up- and downhill with a packed bike.
Also I would advise to bring some high quality clothing for all conditions while still keeping your bike as light as possible. Ewout and me both wore Canvas products. The Canvas Bib Shorts were absolutely amazing because of the thick chamois and comfortable fit. Neither me nor Ewout had any problems with saddle pains. Pretty impressive if you ride 7 days in a row. Also the Canvas Classic Gilet was a perfect multifunctional product for chilly early morning starts and great to keep your core warm when descending a high mountain climb.
This might be too obvious but what I also would recommend is to go with a good mate with who you can have a laugh with. You pretty much spend all your time together so getting along is pretty important. Ewout had some more training than me this year so he was stronger on pretty much all days but don't see your trip as a race: you're on a holiday. It was good fun with Ewout so hereby I would like to thank him for most of the organisation and also for being a good domestique.
Bikepacking is just as much about having fun off the bike as well. The joy of drinking post-ride beers is incredible as long as you don't forget that the next day you'll need to push your pedals again ;-)
Thanks for reading this bike-report and if you have any questions feel free to contact me on email@example.com.