Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Locations of reviewed cafes

For more information on the Cafes I have visited and the latest cafe cycle news go to http://www.cake-crusader.co.uk/

Cake Crusader Book

There is now a Cake Crusader book available where you can follow my journey from humble local trips to world record attempts and near-death experiences. How did a simple method of keeping track of decent cycling café pit stops turn my life upside down? Track my adventures into Europe, up mountains and right across Great Britain as I become a 'rising star' on social media. Will I prove my critics wrong? Should cheese scones be served hot or cold? Do I really have nothing better to do with his time? A must read for lovers of cycling and cake or anyone wanting to make it big in the virtual world

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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Monte Grappa cycling adventure day 2. (65 miles over Monte Grappa)

Monte Grappa cycling adventure day 2
The whole purpose of coming out to Italy on this trip was to ride up Monte Grappa. I had seen a cycling video of someone riding up it and I thought that the cafe at the top looked good so obviously needed to check it out to see how it compared with my current number cafe in Europe (which is a converted railway station on a cycle path between Italy and Slovenia. See Highs and lows, literally). It had also given me the idea to focus this weeks rides on finding the best cafes at the top of mountains.

As explained in yesterday's post I would be joined by George (Son) as a late substitute cycling guest. As he is a student the ride did not get underway until quite late at 9:45.
Outside Hotel ready to set off
Cycling guest cycling top tip no. 54. If you are cycling in Italy and don't speak the language try shouting ciao at any other cyclists you see to trick them into thinking that you are a local.
Family group who led to me losing the ciao challenge
Me and George quickly became big users of cycling guest cycling top tip 54 and turned it into a game to see who could get the most 'ciao's'  back. I must confess I was soundly beaten when George got a large family group of ten to ciao him after giving them only 3 back. Top ciao ratio work and an unassailable lead.

The planned route was to cycle south round Monte Grappa and then return up the route used for the 2014 Giro D'italia mountain time trial stage before completing the ascent to the top. There were great views all the way down as we cycled by the river with mountains on either side.
One of many river and mountain combination based view
After about 25 miles we were coming a bit blasé with the spectacular views and decided we needed a break. As we were getting close to the start of the climb we had some pasta at a roadside restaurant. As this was not really a cafe or at the top of a mountain we didn't bother to review it.
Energy giving pasta
Now refuelled we continued for another few miles to the start of the route up. There are apparently 10 different ways up Monte Grappa but this is one of the more popular although rather long at 27km, over 15 miles. 
At what I assumed was the official start of the climb, because there were flags
It starts steeply and continues at a decent gradient of 6-10% for about 6 miles which was quite a tough hours work. Again there were excellent views to enjoy.
One of the many views on the way up

After the first hour I decided I should act like a parent and waited for George, who I was impressed to see was only a couple of minutes behind me (take note other regular cycling guests). However he had foolishly believed it when I said it would take an hour to climb to the top as never having done this ride before I had given him my standard one hour answer when asked how long it would take. He was therefore more than a bit disappointed when we saw a sign saying 13 km more to the top which was about what we had done to this point.

The next few kilometres were fairly flat before it kicked up again in order to climb the remaining 700m. After passing no cyclists in the first section we passed several on this stretch mainly as they had got off to push their bikes up the road, so despite their cycling Lycra they were hardly proper cyclists at all. Worse than that we were overtaken by man on an ebike which annoyed us both as riding one of those is worse than getting off and pushing.
There was still plenty of road to cover before the top
It was a tough finish but after over two and a half hours of cycling up hill we finally got to the top where we found cafe "case armata del grappa".
At the cafe at the top of Monte Grappa
There were no menus and little English spoken so as I was rather thirsty, having long since run out of water and with the temperature at 28c then even I couldn't go through the motions of trying to order a hot chocolate, so I bought a large beer and two bottles of water for each of us. They did have some cake but as we were indeed of energy the doughnut looked the best bet. It was the best doughnut/beer combination ever and in the circumstances I awarded both food and drink 7 out of 10. When I returned George had arrived too and collapsed on the table claiming it to be the hardest thing he had ever done.
Beer and doughnuts turned out to be excellent summit food
Sadly the cafe didn't look as good as it had in the video as it was a bit commercial and very busy, mainly full of people who had driven up, or worst still motor biked up, or worst of all electric biked up. The video had given the impression that it would be cyclists only. I was left with no choice and despite the great views it only got a 6 for atmosphere and ambiance on my European scoring system. A rating of 6.67 overall gave it a middling score which was disappointing after all that effort I had made to come here.
Few of the people had cycled here 
Now rehydrated it was time for the descent which had some even steeper bits meaning descending was slower than expected and we arrived back two hours after my eta. 
View from the top of Grappa showing the steep path down
For some reason George has decided to visit Venice with his girlfriend Meg tomorrow rather than join me on another ride. Even the promise of it being further and having more climbing to do than today couldn't change his mind, how strange. Nevertheless I will go on my own and be going climbing crazy, as I hope to find the best mountain top cafe and a challenger to the best cafe anywhere in Europe. 

Today's route

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