To the page for Italy of the Trento Bike Pages

How I survived to a very wet ride
on Veneto Pre-Alps

By A.M.G. Deganutti, Thu, 19 Mar 1998 17:19:39 +0100
I live in the middle of the largest flat area of Italy: the Pianura Padana and that is not a real luck for an almost fanatic bike climber: every time I want to do a nice ride I have to go by car at least as far as the nearest Prealps mountains. So, having planned a mountain bike trip for a Sunday of late autumn, I left from my flat city that day, even if the weather was not so good.

After a 2 hours and 30 minutes drive (there was even a closed road and I had to take a long detour), I arrived at my planned bike starting point (Rotzo village, on Altopiano di Asiago, Veneto region) while the sky was releasing a nice amount of rain. I was with two friends which immediately said: we don't want to get wet! But for me it was a so bad frustration to come up to here and to go back without touching the bike, that my stubbornness won and I took down my bike from the rack.

Having recently lived for 9 months in New Zealand, I have become pretty indifferent to the rain during outdoor activities and, more, learned some tricks from those kiwi guys that, living with that terribly changeable weather and loving outdoor sports, invented some kind of clothes very useful to survive that inclement weather enjoying tramping, biking etc.

The magic word is polypropylene, an artificial fibre with which they do any kind of underwear; this fibre keep you warm even when wet and it dries very quickly.

So that famous time I wore polypropylene jersey and long johns (underwear pants), over those I wore a fleece sweater, a pair of tracksuit trousers and an old goretex jacket; unfortunately (even a kiwi trained guy can mistake!) I had very poor gloves and a pair of normal city shoes.

When I started my trip by bike the rain was not so heavy, nevertheless it was wet!

As it generally happens when you ride in a mountainous area, I started my trip with a climb; the great advantage of this kind of weather is that generally there is nobody around and so the landscape looks very much wilder (in Italy this is a general rule, see the behaviour of my fellows!). So I was almost happy riding uphill under that rain, I felt almost dry, only, after a while, a bit warm. After one hour climb (around 500 m of elevation gain) I arrived in a large plateau covered by thick woods with some clearings with old huts used in summertime as dairy farms (the biggest of which is Malga Campolongo). There was nobody!

I took a forest road (there are a lot of them over there, a real maze!) and continued my ride it those wild woods, exploring the large plateau. Going along almost flat roads I inevitably began to ride faster (even if that was not my aim) and so more and more rain hit me. After a while, say half an hour, my goretex jacket lost its impermeability, particularly on the sleeves but I didn't worry about that and soon I saw a big grouse just in the middle of the road, in front of me, it flew away with a huge noise when I was few metres from it. Since those big birds are quite rare in this region, it was really an amazing encounter!

Then I took a downhill road, the speed increased along with the humidity of my clothes; soon my hands (protected by not so good cycling winter gloves) became colder and colder and so my feet. The thing was not nice and so I turned my bike and I climbed back gaining heat on my hands. I rode again along different roads on the woody plateau towards its highest point (Malga Mandrielle). Again the landscape was absolutely lonely and wild... For a while I forgot the rain. Eventually I arrived on the higest point of my ride (around 1600 m asl) and started to go down towards the famous and old Ghertele hotel where I had to meet with my lazy friends. The downhill road is very long and I went down fast enough to lose the sensitiveness of my hands and feet. Even my limbs, after a while, became hard to move! But the rest of my body was really OK (fortunately!!).

When I arrived to the Ghertele hotel my fleece sweater was quite wet and so my polypropylene jersey but my body was still warm! Of course it took a bit of time to recover the complete functionality of my legs and arms, hands and feet but I was helped by a good fireplace and a big hot wine glass!