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!