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  • jigdaman

The beginning of a beautiful friendship...

The Bracciano Loop - our first ride!

My first glimpse of Carl was a black clad man running/waddling (blame the cycling shoes) across a busy intersection to pick up his dropped phone that was about to be pulverised by oncoming traffic. I’m sure he was hoping that it wasn’t going to be ‘one of those days’. We greeted each other as Englishmen do, and I had an ogle at his bike, and he likely did similar, but his bike is nicer. And off we went. It is nice to have friends who are cyclists because you usually don’t have to talk to them much, but as it’s just Carl and I, we make smalltalk pretty often. You usually don’t know if someone is listening when they are cycling in front or behind you, but we seem to be able to communicate pretty well. This is helped by Carl’s Italian-like use of personal space - if other road users are inconvenienced by us having a good chat while zipping along, then it is not the end of the world for anyone.

To the route - leaving Rome is almost always uphill, and leaving via the ‘ciclo-pedonale’ through Balduina is one of the nicest ways to leave the city, as the hill is fairly gentle and there is also a 5 km bike path (why they stopped it in the middle of nowhere is anyone’s guess). This contrasts quite clearly with the Olympic stadium route that I will outline in our second ride, which is masochistic in its gradient. The main road to Olgiata is wide enough to have your own space, but a little boring on the eye. We became a little impatient to see the lake: Carl ended up dropping me for a few kilometers so he could get into Anguillara Sabazia first and spend more time enjoying the view (at this point I wondered if I would see him again). When we caught up again it was time for a coffee, and the onset of the slowest puncture possibly ever. So slow in fact that I was able to complete the 30km circuit of the lake with it! The lake circuit is stunning and to be honest I wouldn’t be adverse to getting a train to the lake, going round twice, and then getting the train home. The road is quiet, the views are stunning (particularly highlights are the pass under the castle in Bracciano and the view from the hill by Trevignano before you drop down into the town). We went round clockwise to make the most of the lake view. A shout must go out to the good folks at Tecnobike in Anguillara Sabazia who fixed my flat (in the process teaching me the Italian word for flat which is foratura) without me needing to get my hands dirty, and let us gawp at their impressive bike selection that provided ammunition for at least 30 minutes of bike related conversation afterwards, and almost convinced me to buy a Cervelo R5.

We returned via Boccea, and the road from Osteria Nuova to the Boccea crossroads Is a downhill dream into an undulating valley that reminds me of somewhere in Sussex, but in Italy. Don’t forget though that Rome has a lot of hills. From the turn in Boccea to the city, there seems to be too many of them to make geographical sense, not big hills, but punchy, breathy climbs that are better tackled at the beginning of a ride, rather than the end. Still, they were not enough to ruin a beauty of a 100km outing, this is definitely a good weekend regular.

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