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Italy - Dolomites 2011

Bassano del Grappa

We started planning our trip to the Dolomites last year while we were still in the Pyrenees with Dominique and Cristine. We loved the Pyrenees, but I must admit that as soon as the question arose about where to go next, John and I both suggested the Dolomites. We usually shy away from returning to a place we've already been just because there are so many more places to see, but there is just something about this area that keeps bringing us back: the wine, the coffee, the food, the views, the roads...

Having been to the area twice before, John and I had a good feel for the lay of the land. We proposed flying into Venice and taking the train to Bassano del Grappa. We would spend a couple of days riding in this area, before heading off for a self-supported tour, returning to Bassano del Grappa at the end. Dominique and Cristine got a direct flight from Montreal to Venice, while John and I flew through Zurich, arriving a couple of hours later. We met at the Hotel Brennero, a few blocks from the train station.

By the time we arrived, Cristine and Domi had already assembled their bikes and run errands. They brought Prosecco and snacks for us to enjoy while we put our bikes together. Yes, that is bikes with an "s". For many years, John and I have travelled with our S&S coupled tandem. Last year, we started talking about being able to ride single bikes on tours that included air travel. We'd also been spending lots of time at Ride Studio Cafe, a coffee and bike shop, that happened to have a very close association with Seven Cycles. As we got to know Rob Vandermark and saw lots of custom Sevens, we decided we wanted a pair of S&S Sevens. I am ashamed to say that I had not realized before that Seven just does custom builds. We spent a lot of time talking to Rob about what we wanted to do with our bikes as well as getting the measurements. He designed our bikes to meet our specific desires. We had our new bikes built to be perfect travel bikes for the type of tours we do. Mine was designed to be light for climbing, and stable for descending. In addition, it has clearance for fenders and plush tires. John asked for even more clearance for even fatter tires and he also got a custom take-apart rack. Over the years we have learned that one of the hardest parts of packing the tandem is fitting the rack in the case. We'd had a custom rack made for the tandem comes apart and packs flat, so I mentioned how nice this was and the gang at Seven came up with a wonderfully elegant and light take-apart rack for John's bike.

I am the first to admit that John is much stronger than I am. Having John carry the gear would be a good equalizer for the two of us. I did not abuse the privilege though. I packed just as light as I usually do on the tandem.

Unzip the case to see a bike inside!

All the parts

The easy pack travel rack and fenders.

What went into John's pannier. *My* pannier had a similar amount, although I did carry my own large seatbag and bar bag, containing my rain jacket and warmers and such. We offset that with an 11" Macbook Air. This allowed us to travel with many fewer maps than we usually do, and to make up routes day to day for the GPS.

Times 2 of course.


Now let's go ride!