European biking Mecca
Lake Garda (Lago di
Garda) is very popular area for mountain biking. It is the European center for MTB.
Garda is interesting also for other outdoor sports (e.g. windsurfing, climbing).
In the north of the lake, where the wind is the strongest, there are more than 13 windsurfing
Garda is situated north of Verona.
The lake itself is quite long - 50
km and 18
km wide, whereas in the north only 5 km. It is only 65 m
above sea level and surrounded by over 2000 m peaks! So,
there is quite a height difference. The northern part of
the lake is especially interesting, since rock walls
literally vanish in the deeps of the lake. It is far to
the sea, but the climate is typical Mediterranean, since
there is only flat terrain separating the lake from the
sea. But up in the mountains, there is severe mountain
climate. So, you have to take this into account, when
planning your trips.
The terrain is quite alpine for a bike,
with steep ascents and demanding descents. Unfortunately,
there are too many ascents on asphalt. There are quite a
few book guides for MTB available. The most popular and
probably the best is Moser
guide in two parts. Bike season officially starts for
the first May holidays, when a traditional Garda
Bike Festival is organized. It is the biggest of its
kind in Europe. Otherwise you can bike all year long, only
snow limits the altitude that you can get to in winter.
In any case, Garda is worth a visit. There
are not many places, where you can see so many mountain
bikers in one place. Bikers are everywhere, and not just
people with bikes. These are real mountain bikers with
capable and usually expensive bikes. There are also a lot
of bike stores with reasonable prices. So, something to
lift up your biking spirit. The atmosphere is genuine
MTB. But if you are a windsurfer or a climber, you could
say the same thing.
Garda is also a very crowded and popularized
place, which can be bothering. Since there are some big
cities very close (Muenchen, Verona, etc.), weekends can
be really crowded, especially in summer. On general, you
should avoid visiting Garda in August, when Italians have their
vacation. At that time, camping grounds are full as well,
especially those near the lake.
pictures are from climbing Monte Altissimo