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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Friday 30 September 2022

Bike tour of Italy part 1

Bike tour of Italy part 1

Pre pandemic, myself and Mrs Crusader often did a long distance bike packing week in the UK. However for our first year back we have decided to up the anti and head to Italy to see how it compares. We plan to mostly follow Eurovelo route 7 that goes North to South through most of the famous cities. We plan to combine cycling (which we’re good at) with culture (which we are not). We will be deciding which is the best cultural site in Italy, voting for our favourite renaissance artist as well as awarding the converted cultural highlight of the day award.

We don’t have an end date or destination so anything could happen. It also meant we had to pack our bikes in disposable cupboard boxes for the flight to our start point in Venice.

For once everything went remarkable smoothly and bikes, plus us, arrived safely before being reassembled in the hotel car park. There was even a large cardboard recycle bin just down the street.
Before setting off on the bikes it was our first opportunity for culture as we headed into Venice for the day. Venice turned out to be crammed full of the stuff but as it was a Tuesday then most of the museums were shut. We therefore wandered around looking at all the things trip advisor said you should until they were all ticked off.
Cultural highlight of the day was the whole of Venice as it’s just a big olde worlde theme park.
With Venice in the bag thoughts turned to day 1 of cycling .

Day 1
It was good to finally be on the road although most of the route was a little dull as we weaved our way through lots of little towns that all merged into one another.

We did manage a quick cafe stop with excellent hot chocolate but the main focus today was to get to the Prosecco wine tasting tour, we had booked, by 2pm.

Using Google maps I had randomly picked vineyard Drusian as they promised a one hour tour of the vines and factory before a tasting with cheese and local meats.

When we arrived we discovered we were the only ones on the tour which, much to Mrs Crusaders delight barely last 5 mins as we skipped looking at vines and had a cursory glance at the grape crushing machine, fermentation vats, bottling and labelling. Our tour guide could obviously tell she had only come for one thing and wanted to get straight down to business.

We headed straight for the tasting room only for Mrs Crusaders face to fall as a spit bucket was produced! She instantly checked if you had to spit it out and when it was confirmed not her eyes lit up and it was down to business.

The tasting lady tried to engage us about grapes, boutiques and flavours but quickly saw she was getting nowhere so just kept the Prosecco coming. I retired early and was surprised when Mrs Crusader turned down the 7th one to try (we later discovered there were 12 in total so relived she didn’t go for the full house). 

With  just 15 miles to go the world seemed a happier place as we remounted and set off again through the vineyards. The landscape started to improve too as mountains sprang up but with no major hills today we soon reached our overnight accommodation in Feltre at the foot of the Dolomites.

As we were keen to soak up the Italian vibe and find some culture we explored the town but basically there was only part of a city wall and old church type thing with added sundial to see so we awarded it cultural highlight of the day went for a beer instead. 

Day 2
The next morning was a bit overcast as we turned West for a 55 mile stage to Trento where we would join Eurovelo 7 that would be providing the backbone for the rest of the route. 

Todays route was mainly on a slight incline up along a fabulous cycle path. However the views were rather spoiled because it started to rain, for most of the rest of the day.

Fortunately we had to decided to invest in some excellent light weight waterproofs to keep us toastie dry. And mine certainly did although Mrs Crusader ended the day soaking wet. I think some poor tucking in was to blame but the jury is currently out.
Trento is the other side of a big hill. Without asking our routing software decided to take us over a ridiculous steep cobbled footpath that we had to push our loaded bikes up for over a mile. It may have been the shortest and safest route but not a cycle one so I’m now going to have to check all routes more carefully for the rest of the trip.

Once at Trento it was still raining and we were both rather tired after the bike pushing incident so we decided we couldn’t be bothered looking for culture today and hoped we may see something interesting on way out tomorrow (we did, a big castle). Instead Mrs Crusader looked at pictures of Trento on Wikipedia while I went to use the hotel swimming pool which was about the size of a large bath.

As it was due to rain again today we opted for a short day as we headed South West to lake Garda. 

The route was 90% on a flat cycle path so a very easy but pretty ride mainly view vineyards but no cultural opportunities.

When we reached the lake we did have a few miles on the busy round the lake road which meant having to go through several tunnels. This is always an adventure in Italy as you hear the cars approaching with the engine noise amplified by the tunnel walls. I’ve never seen Mrs Crusader pedal so fast as she desperately tried to escape each one.

This meant we arrive at the hotel early afternoon and were able to regroup and plan the next few days. It was agreed we would have a couple of 60 mile days in order to have our first rest day in Bologna. 

There was still time to look for culture which I found at Castle Malcesine. It was built in 12th century by Verona nobility and has 3 court yards apparently. Tomorrow promises to be castle rich so I’m hoping to award a castle of the day prize too.

Miles so far, 145.4

Cultural highlights of the day
Pre ride day: All of Venice as it’s like a big cultural theme park.
Day 1. Feltre sun dial
Day 2. Big Castle in Trento
Day 3. Castle Malcesine.