Tuscan hills in the saddle. (2016, Passo del Trebbio, Lucca)
Updated: Jun 10, 2019
I love the fact that there’s taps in the mountain. At some point, it was decided that there needed to be pipes and taps embedded into the side of the mountain, constantly running cool water. Some are ornate with hand-crafted masonry bowls underneath or an intricate facade around the outlet; others are simply copper pipes sticking out of the wall with a constant stream of clear water. When you’ve been cycling uphill for forty-five minutes in the Tuscan summer heat, you don’t really care which is which.
We’ve been on our ride for just over two hours, at first through the winding, leafy roads of the valley alongside the river and then the long straights and tight hairpins of Passo del Trebbio. This lush mountain pass is well known in these parts. Our guide Alison, a former pro-cyclist, has ridden it many times in training. As we’re crawling uphill, head down and struggling for breath, she effortlessly tells me how they’d do circuits, cycling up to a particular plateau and then back down to repeat the climb. There was something else about having to ramp up the speed each time but I didn’t catch the details, I was too busy trying to get enough air into my lungs to keep the wheels turning.
Every minute or so, I manage to look up and out across a stunning view back towards Lucca. Even in the height of summer, the hills are covered in a glorious green canopy. A familiar maxim comes to mind: ‘This is why we ride’. For these views, the pain becomes a pleasure.
At the summit we regroup, lungs heaving and legs burning but flush with the thrill of conquering that beautiful climb. There’s salt residue on my arms, sweat still pouring. And there’s a pipe sticking out of the wall, water flowing freely. Perfect. My bottles are almost empty.
Go find your pocket: Contact Alison for guiding at https://luccacyclingclub.com/
Rent your bikes from Paladino at Chrono Bikes: https://www.chronobikes.com/