Do you have a Gravel bike? “Why don’t you attend more gravel events and competitions?” someone asked me once. I don’t know, I’m not really intrigued by big events and I don’t like competition at all. I like more cycling on my own, changing my mind and my route along the way, stopping for pictures and detours as many times as I want to. However, I should say that the organisation and also the atmosphere of Gravel Sul Serio has nothing to do with competition and it turned out to be a very good way to discover the roads and paths along the banks of the Serio river.
Cycling touring is about savouring the nature and culture of the area, meeting new people, testing new recipes, learn new idiomatic phrases from the local dialect. This is what this event can offer to its participants, able to embrace all kinds of cyclists, from those who love going fast and getting dirty with the mud, to the others who prefer riding slow, taking pictures, and stopping for a quick visit into the center of a village when they see one.
As usual, I decided to leave one day before the event, so I could explore a bit more of the area. Unfortunately, to arrive at my starting point (Bergamo) it took to me 4 hours by train, so when I reached the destination was already lunchtime, anyway I took it as an opportunity to stop at Bikefellas for a coffee and a slice of a chocolate cake. I found out that Bikefellas isn’t just a bar or bicycle repair shop, it is the combination of 2 projects that coexist together in one place and that share the same passion: bicycles! It has been a welcome surprise to find a parking spot inside the shop, so I didn’t have to check on my bicycle outside whilst I was looking around and drinking my coffee, I couldn’t stay much longer, but I will definitely remember about it in my incoming tours.
When I hit the road toward the cycle route of Brembana valley it was already 1 pm, luckily the route is well designed and as soon as I was in, it was easy to follow. The route of Brembana valley was redesigned on an old railway line, so after a short while from the city towards San Pellegrino, I found myself crossing small tunnels and suspension bridges. That was the time when I realised that my front light wasn’t working anymore and so I had to revise my plan and accelerate in order to arrive before the dark.
In Zogno I left the valley cycling uphill the famous “Salita del Giro” that was covered in the 100th tour of Italy in 1970. It is about 10 km climb not always easy, but definitely not impossible before the road goes down and in my case up again because I wanted to reach Selvino and then descend towards Seriana valley. However, in Selvino I had to revise my plan again since the main route was closed for a cycling competition. Another plan B took me to a road that I rode one year ago when I visited my friends in Vertova, a nice tiny road that goes towards Orezzo and finally along the Serio valley where I started to enjoy a bit of the gravel path of the Serio river from Nembro to Romano di Lombardia.
Waiting for me at Romano di Lombardia there was Simone, known on Instagram as Pedalento, another “slow & happy” cycle-traveler, who is also the creator of the Gravel Sul Serio event. When I reached the city centre I noticed what remains of the ancient walls that surround the village, their memory remains visible thanks to the moat that accompanied me to the town gate. Time for a shower and I went back to Simone to grab dinner with him and his friends’ couple whom he met during his last trip to Austria. Traveling is not just about collecting memories, but also making new friends that will remain with us for much longer than a memory.
The day after I got up early for the ride, I reached Piazzale Fiume, where many of the participants of the event were already queuing to register. Despite the early hours, the temperature was good and it wasn’t raining as much as expected. I waited for my turn, presented my green pass, and set off following a large group of colourful cyclists who call themselves “i Monelli” (the brats). As always with the spirit of the traveler, the desire to look around while I was chatting with Sergio who on the contrary is one of those accustomed to competing and going fast, I felt part of a world I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t joined the event. Gravel Sul Serio route, almost immediately, left the main road to take us through the meadows that line the river. I am happy to be between nature and cyclists, there are no pedestrians on the track and the road runs fast. After a while, I decided to stop for a picture and to take off my jacket since the temperature was rising. I wanted to slow down to see more things, move my gaze towards the landscape and spend a bit more time enjoying nature.
That was when I met Po 1974, nearly a mythological character, an iconic traveller that I used to know only because we were following each other on social networks. Po 1974 started travelling when I wasn’t even born, his stories, his experiences, and knowledge about places and paths are incredible. The desire to experience bicycle as a means of freedom, his strength, his vision a true inspiration. That was my ride a journey through the territory, the history, the nature. From the path, we couldn’t see much but I was able to imagine the places around Crema. From the river embankment, the track carried on very safe and quiet, I never had the perception of a competition and I enjoyed the ride. When our streets split, since I decided to follow the short track, I returned to Romano di Lombardia, I had some time to say goodbye to Simone and eat some fruits before heading towards Adda river, Martesana canal, and finally Milan. Along the way when I stopped in Cassano D’adda to visit a small local market and buy some local products, it started raining and it rained until I arrived in Milan, but I honestly didn’t mind because I was so happy I had the opportunity to get to know a new territory, new people and live the experience of Gravels Sul Serio that everything else was just icing on the cake.
TOTAL BUDGET 2 DAYS ALL-INCLUSIVE: 65 euro