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/

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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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Saturday, 27 August 2016

Monte Grappa cycling adventure day 4. (85 miles east of Feltre)


Monte Grappa cycling adventure day 4
After 2 days of climbing I thought it was time for something more gentle and decided to have another crack at the ride I was meant to do on Tuesday before the broken bikes fiasco (see day 1). On paper it looked a fairly straight forward 75 miles with a couple of lumps but nothing that appeared too testing. In my continued search for the best mountain summit cafes I hoped I would find something at the two highest points on the ride.

Having been cycling guestless yesterday I persuaded George (son) and his girlfriend Meg to accompany me to the first summit before I would continue the rest of the adventure on my own. Meg had not been expected to cycle out here but I hired her a bike which was delivered to the hotel and only cost €20 for the day. Despite this low price it turned out to be a very nice one. I estimated the first summit was 20 miles away giving them a 40 mile round trip.
About to set with new cycling guest
Well it would have been if I hadn't followed the wrong cycle route signs leaving town (they all looked the same to me) and found ourselves going in completely the wrong direction adding about 3 or 4 miles to the route.

After we got back on track and had completed just over 20 miles everyone was getting peckish but we still were a long way from my first target summit. I felt it would be best to cut our loses, find somewhere to eat and then I would press on alone as they returned to the hotel. We couldn't find anything but bars that did not do food or speak English. Using the gift of international sign language some locals suggested there was food available down the big steep hill (grande collina ripida).

So we cycled down only to find that there wasn't anywhere there either. This was clearly some sort of local joke and I imagined they were now wetting themselves laughing having sent another group of English cyclists down the grande collina ripida. However I would have the last laugh as I would be going the long way round (about 60 more miles) to avoid cycling back up it. Sadly this option was not available to my cycling guests who had to cycle and walk their bikes back up as they continued the search for food.
Cycling guest setting off back up the hill in search for food
It was a good job they had not continued with me as it was another 10 miles before I reached the top of the first bump. Up to now all my summit cafes were at over 1000m at the top of mountains but this time I was barely at 500m and on a side street in the village of Tisoi. However I was pleased to see there was still a bar there for me to try.
Bar at first 'summit' of the day
I knew I was in trouble on the language front when my request for water met with a blank expression. I desperately tried to remember what international sign language for glass of water was. So I made an oscillating motion with one arm, like a wave, and mimed drinking. It seemed to work and I got some water but I knew there would be no point in asking for, or acting out, a hot chocolate. Fortunately food was on display so I pointed to a croissant and tiny ham roll. 
Disappointing food and drink options
Just as I sat down outside to eat, the lady pointed to her watch, and locked the door as it was siesta time for her, although not for me as I had another cafe to find. With no great view and just water to drink the cafe scored poorly and won't feature in my book 'the world's best mountain summit cafes' if I ever write it.

The next part of the ride was a rather dull bit going through the large town of Belluno.
Large town of Belluno, or at least some of it
Before I found myself at the bottom of the only proper big up I faced all day. 
Start of today's only climb
It was only 500m of climbing but still took 45 mins to the top of Passo San Baldo where once again I found a summit cafe. 
Final summit top cafe of the trip
Although there was no awesome view it was still a very pleasant spot and the waitress spoke excellent English so I went straight for a hot chocolate. Unfortunately on the food front there as no strudel left but they did have tiramisu so I opted for that instead.
Great Italian food and drink
The whole package was excellent and I rated AAA as 7.75, tiramisu as 8 and the hot chocolate was an 8.5 so overall score of 8.08 taking it straight to the 'summit' of my mountain top cafe list.

After leaving the cafe I was confronted by some traffic lights where I had to wait at for some time. They appeared to be guarding the entrance to a small tunnel. I couldn't understand why we were needed to be there for so long as it took nearly 5 minutes before they changed. It turned it was because the lights weren't  just for 1 tunnel but a network of 9 that zigzagged down the top of the mountain. I couldn't stop to take a photo without holding up the traffic so here is one I found online.
Network of tunnels down the mountain
It was a fabulous experience weaving in and out of tunnels but we did meet a poor cyclist coming up the other way who had to quickly move to the side as the downward traffic zoomed past. It was certainly going to take several light changes for him to cycle up so I suggest you only try doing this climb one way around.

The view from this side was rather more spectacular than at the top, probably improved in that I was now zooming down rather struggling up.
View on way down from Passo San Baldo
The scenery continued to be of the highest order as I know rode for several miles through vineyards and wineries, so well done Italy, I thought.
Lovely views riding through the vine yards
Just as I thought this had been a near perfect afternoon of riding I turned north for the final 20 miles back and found myself cycling along the edge of a busy trunk road. There was a cycle path, of sorts, which was about 2 foot wide separated from the speeding traffic by a white line. Despite the excellent river views it was no fun cycling with lorries and cars brushing past so I kept going, head down, as fast as I could.
Nice river shame about the road
I was relieved to get back to the hotel in one piece having covered nearly 10 miles more than planned. I was also pleased my cycling guests had got back safely too having followed the correct set of signs for their return route.

This was my final ride as part of the Monte Grappa cycling adventure on which I have learnt that the best cafe always comes at the highest point of your ride, which proved the case on all 3 days so must be true.

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