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Ever since the avy accident this winter has been miserable. A mixed bag of rain, slush, snow and no sunshine gave more or less unrideable conditions both in the mountains for snowboarding and on the local trails for the bike. Not good for a lost soul in need of endorphine based healing.

Naturally, I jumped at the chance to spend a week in Finale Ligure. A bit of shuttling, a bit of pedalling, a whole lot of coffee, focaccia, gelato and sun was exactly what I needed.

We started the week just outside of Nice with a bit of an all mountain day.

Martin descending on a rocky trail

Martin descending on a rocky trail somewhere around Nice

Cissi and Martin climbing towards Col de Notre Dame with the Med far below

Cissi and Martin climbing towards Col de Notre Dame with the Med far below

Classic photo spot. The descent from Col de Notre Dame is scenic, loose and rocky. Bags of fun

Classic photo spot. The descent from Col de Notre Dame is scenic, loose and rocky. Bags of fun

Cissi gets some practice on those tight corners

Cissi gets some practice on those tight corners

After a great day in France we headed over to where the coffee is cheaper and the pizza is better. Italy, that is. The country and the people that always makes me smile. It still feels a bit like coming home when I am there, and I always blame myself for not going more often.

Cappuccino and corno on the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele in Finale is the way to start the day, every day

Cappuccino and corno on the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele in Finale is the way to start the day, every day

The reality of shuttling hit me like a sledgehammer. Many laps, dusty rocky trails and people with big bikes bring speeds up to what feels very fast indeed for the first few riding days of the season. The first day was spent dusting off skills that have not been used for a long time. A tomahawk into a pile of leaves and a superman later I was getting back into shape, and the following days my riding form just got better and better.

Happy faces in spite of obvious traces of crashes, it must be the antipasto and the Prosecco

Happy faces in spite of obvious traces of crashes, it must be the antipasto and the Prosecco

Gnocchi di patate con pancetta e pomodori and a generous serving of parmesan and prosecco is all a tired cyclist needs to heal up for another day of riding.

Gnocchi di patate con pancetta e pomodori and a generous serving of parmesan and prosecco is all a tired cyclist needs to heal up for another day of riding.

Between the days of shuttling we did a few rides on our own as well, for example the very scenic, loose and rocky trails above Varigotti, Dh Uomo and Dh Donna.

Martin traversing and enjoying the view on Dh Donne

Martin traversing and enjoying the view on Dh Donna

The last part of Dh Donne went on cobbled trails through small olive plantations before dropping down a stonethrow from the seafront in Varigotti

The last part of Dh Donna went on cobbled trails through small olive plantations before dropping down a stonethrow from the seafront in Varigotti

Dh Uomo is steeper, looser and more rutted out. A challenge for sure, and the view is even better

Dh Uomo is steeper, looser and more rutted out. A challenge for sure, and the view is even better

A few wooden features with sketchy landings are always fun

A few wooden features with sketchy landings are always fun

Natural steepness

Natural steepness

Tight, loose and beautiful. Not that i had time to enjoy the view at this point, my hands were more than full

Tight, loose and beautiful. Not that I had time to enjoy the view at this point, my hands were more than full

We also explored a few of the Superenduro trails right above Finale, and these went down as my favourites. More natural feeling than the shuttling trails, mostly downhill but with a few really punchy climbs to keep the biggest bikes at bay and the heart rate high. The trails are mostly accessed by climbing asfalt roads and a few contouring trails. A map helps, there are a lot of trails in the area.

Liason stage from San Bernardino, Martin looking out over Final Pia.

Liason stage from San Bernardino, Martin looking out over Final Pia.

After the longest climbs there is usually a Trattoria, this time with coffee, fresh cheese and figues. One has to fuel up for the downhill, of course

After the longest climbs there is usually a Trattoria, this time with coffee, fresh cheese and figues. One has to fuel up for the downhill, of course

After the downhill, what could be better than stuffing your face with focaccia down by the beach?

After the downhill, what could be better than stuffing your face with focaccia down by the beach?

Another climb, another descent. Still off the San Bernardino, this was my absolute favourite of the whole trip. A fantastic mix of flow, rocks and tight switchbacks brought us down into a gorge lined with deep greens, brown dirt and rocks, spectacular.

Racing down in the green embrace

Racing down in the green embrace

Martin pushing into the tacky dirt

Martin pushing into the tacky dirt

The trail eventually took us out on a bench between olive yards and old ruins, and finally brought us down to the road towards Final Pia. A quick coffee at the bar, and it was time to pack up for this time and leave towards Nice and the airport. Thank you Italy for this week, pleasant as always. Big thanks to Cissi and Martin for letting me tag along after having arranged all the logistics, it was a blast!
As for the all important stats, I won the crashing contest by a big margin, and Martin won the “destroying bikes” contest by breaking his frame, both front triangle, linkage and seat stays, way to go!