May 23: Gardone Riviera
Today we started out with the Morrisons, the Hays, and Steve from Riva del Garda. The route was to take us down the lake a bit on the east side, and then we were to take a ferry across to just north of Gardone. However, if we felt good, we were going to ride all the way around the lake (clockwise).
After passing through a couple of tunnels (not fun, because they are very dark), and through the town of Tempesta, Patty, Bryan, Kurt, myself and Steve decided we wanted to ride around the lake. I wasn't sure how far we would go, but I was sure that it was between 60-100 miles. We also had a bailout option of the ferry at Sirmione, which is a city at the bottom of the lake.
We took off from the rest of the group and started hammering in a paceline, with Bryan and myself taking most of the pulls. We passed Gardaland, an amusement park along the way. We passed through a number of cute little cities. We hugged the lake most of the way.
The traffic on the road around the lake was quite heavy, with lots of big trucks passing us. The difference here in Italy is that the trucks and everyone else respect cyclists. So they wait until it's safe to pass, and give you lots of room. We never even had a close call. One person honked at us the entire day. Quite a contrast from the Bay Area!
We had a quick lunch at a small cafe in Peschiera. Not that great, but we were hungry and it hit the spot.
We continued on and went into Sirmione, which is a city at the end of a 4km long peninsula at the bottom of the lake. We stopped at a very fancy gelato place and had these incredible gelato concoctions. Patty's had amaretto in it, and, well let's just say that she didn't ride quite as straight after Sirmione as she did before!
We hopped back on our bikes, and hammered the rest of the way into Gardone. Again, the traffic here was quite heavy, with lots of trucks. It wasn't that fun, until we got off the main road to go through Salo', a pretty little town on the west side of the lake. (NB In a week or so there will be a stage of the Giro (time trial) that starts in Sirmione and ends in Salo'. We saw signs for the Giro all over.)
The view of Salo' from the top of a hill was gorgeous. Unfortunately I was so intent on getting to Gardone that I didn't take any pictures.
After passing through Salo', we reached Gardone, and saw Faye and Mary who directed us to the hotel. We arrived around 4. We saw Caryl, who was worried about us riding the lake, and allayed her fears that we wouldn't arrive in one piece. We checked into our hotel room, tired but pleased!
Our hotel tonight was the Hotel du Lac. Unlike last night's hotel, this hotel was probably the worst hotel we've stayed at on the trip. But that's not saying much because the hotels are all quite nice. This hotel was just nothing to write home about... Because the hotel had a snafu, half the group got to stay at the Grand Hotel, a hotel next door that was very very nice. Faye and Mary were two of the lucky ones, and invited some of us to their room for a snack and a drink before dinner.
After an unremarkable dinner, we did laundry and retired for the night.