RIDER: Mattia de Marchi WORDS: Giulia Boccola IMAGES: Alba Optics LOCATION: Treschè Conca – Altopiano di Asiago (VI) – Italy Download .gpx After careful route planning, we began our adventure on the Altopiano dei 7 Comuni, better known as the Altopiano di Asiago. Located in the Vicentine Alps at an altitude of 1000m, it is a territory that offers many opportunities to practice outdoor sports all year round. We followed Mattia on a path drawn by himself of about 100km. A trail steeped in history, gestures, feats, and of fallen men from the Great War. It is not only a question of exploring, but also (and above all else), of knowing. The warming sun, bright green fields, and the spirit of those who have passed through in time. Locations of fierce fighting during the First World War have become privileged destinations for excursionists who value history and past traces. A suitable route for both the relaxed bike-packer, who prefers to enjoy the trail over more days, and for the more experienced bike-packer who prefers to complete it in a single day. Luckily, this territory remains relatively free from anthropization: a vast and articulated environment yearning to attract more outdoor enthusiasts. The tour includes a total elevation gain of 2,170m and takes almost 9 hours to complete. This is not a classic tour, but instead roads alternate different types of surfaces, resulting in a fun and diverse ride. An easy asphalt start from Treschè Conca turns into a path after a few kilometers. Here the eye cannot avoid a section of pine forest, destroyed by nature’s wrath in the Vaia storm in late 2018. Entire forests in north eastern Italy were devastated by the brutal winds, causing the loss of over 20,000 hectares of flora. “It is not only a question of exploring, but also (and above all else), of knowing.” Beyond this, a sequence of ups and downs along this wonderful hilly territory provide new and various landscapes. A long descent to the Malghe di Caltrano and down a beautiful path, opens to a wide and vast valley landscape. Guiding us for a few kilometers to the Malga Camporosignolo in the Lusiana village at an altitude of 1150m. We pause to enjoy a simple and satisfying lunch: a cheese and soppressa sandwich (typical of the area), and pleasant rest moment, followed by a good coffee and taste slices from five different cakes. Continuing the journey, we reach Asiago. Mattia is pumped and as a good leader maintains the rhythm. A short ride through the narrow city streets, then a stop at the Sacrario del Leiten, one of the most symbolic places of the Great War, a resting place for more than 50,000 bodies. At night, we choose a large green hilly field not too far from Asiago to retire for the day, and we decide to live this adventure totally in contact with nature, sleeping in our tents or under the stars. The following day, we wake at dawn and an intense golden light awakens the grass threads, while the clouds between the hills quietly roll away to reveal the Roana village below. A nice hot cup of coffee. Mattia picks up and stores his bike-packer gear in his saddle bags and starts pedaling. The crisp air is our travelling companion along a nice section of the state road. With little traffic, the huge pinewoods all around follow us as if in a spiritual comforting embrace. “We do not talk about scores, there is no performance stress, there is no competition: just a great desire to pedal and collect new memories.” We reach the Vezzena Pass, an alpine pass at 1400m above sea level. Gliding alongside a very dense forest and through a winding paved road, we follow the sign for the summit and take the path to the Vezzena peak. A particularly demanding white road, but rather soft and never too steep. A path that overlooks the valley below and boasts magnificent mountains with an almost 360° view. After a series of turns Mattia reaches the top. With his bike up on his shoulders, we learn about Fort Vezzena, an Austro-Hungarian fortification of the Great War located 1900m above sea level, right on top of the peak. An incredible landscape, an overhanging wall under our feet, the Dolomites in the distance and this massive concrete casting right on the highest point. Inhale, exhale. Travelling back down to the disconnected path and again on the winding road that passes right in the middle of the forest. The air sharp and the sun leaving space for a heavy blanket of clouds. The last 35km. Paths and roads alternate, as well as short uphill and long downhill runs. We cover the last 20km, almost flat. We cruise through towns Roana, Canove and Cesuna: past stone houses, yellow daisies, and A-framed rooftops framed in green rolling hills. We finally reach our destination, concluding a new experience to be told and a new memory to treasure. Cycling is synonymous to observe, to know, to appreciate, to live new adventures. — Giulia Boccola DEPARTURE: Treschè Conca ARRIVAL: Treschè Conca LENGHT: 99,2 km TOTAL ELEVATION: 1.980 m DURATION: 1/2 days DIFFICULTY: medium, good training required.