It would be too easy to describe my first time in Riva del Garda with a series of absolute superlatives, after all they were 4 days full of adventures: I went diving in the lake, I went sailing darting very fast on a racing catamaran, I walked with my friend Nuvoletta, a very sweet donkey from Amiata.
A bike on the beach before the departure of the EMTB Adventure!
That I fell in love with the area around Riva del Garda is not hard to believe: it is not just one of those places to go when you feel the need to take a break from the world; is the place where lemons and olive trees grow (as in my Liguria!), where you sip the wine produced by the vineyards, where you get drunk on the green and blue of the views and where you can "Breathe" a little more.
Perhaps this is precisely why it is so beautiful to practice sport here and perhaps this is precisely the reason why Riva attracts thousands of outdoor enthusiasts every year and many of these are true lovers of mountain bike.
When I was there the event was held #EMTB Adventure thanks to which I was able to experience firsthand one of the countless cycling routes that this area of Lake Garda has to offer, from itineraries for true experts without fear, to the quieter ones for beginners, to those for people who are a little 'lazy like me.
I say lazy because this event in particular is dedicated to a “different” bicycle, the electric one!
Let me tell you: "I am a terrible sucker when riding a bike" but for the first time I found the "right for me" mountain bike, which allowed me to ride through panoramas overlooking the lake, and whiz along dirt paths in the forest. , jumping on the rocks and among the tree roots!
Our group at the start of the EMTB Adventure, I'm there!
Margherita and I from The Crowded Planet have for once decided to split up in order to try two different routes: here are the two fantastic routes we met at the EMTB (Electric Mountain Bike) festival in Torbole (plus two others, done on different occasions )!
Why is Lake Garda in the North ideal for mountain bikers?
Riva del Garda attracts thousands of visitors every year for mountain bike trails
The area of the Garda Trentino it is one of the best places in the world for mountain biking. There are challenging routes such as the steep Val del Diaol and the famous Ex-Seicentouno (601) along Monte Altissimo, but there are also easier options for beginners or families with children such as the Ponale path or the cycle path between Riva del Garda and Torbole.
The main reason why Lake Garda is such a popular destination is definitely the landscape. There northern shore of the lake it is surrounded by peaks that reach 2000 meters, and offers both the thrill of seemingly endless descents through the woods but also the tranquility of narrow streets between medieval villages and vineyards.
To then finish the day with a dip in the lake, with a Bellini and a slice of apple pie or with a Spritz and appetizers (but a different option is to try the psycho-aperitif of thehotel Luise in my opinion one of the things not to be missed in Riva del Garda).
In short, here you can choose between ben 44 official routes, ranging from comfortable and wide forest roads, to old military and winding tracks, totaling over 1300 kilometers.
The area is also perfect for every need: everywhere you can find bike shuttle services, bike rental and repair shops, and many hotels dedicated to bicycles.
Electric mountain bikes, what are they?
Before departure I am explained how to use the electric mountain bike
Along with regular mountain bikes, bicycle shops have begun to sell and rent in recent years electric mountain bikes.
Electric mountain bikes have an integrated motor, which is used to assist pedaling. What does it mean? It means when you start pedaling the engine starts and gives you a "boost": the intensity of the thrust can be changed by simply pressing a button on the handlebar, and usually varies from "eco" (low) to "turbo" (the maximum power!).
La substantial difference with regular mountain bikes, it is that their electric counterparts have wider tires, the motor and in general a more robust construction, ideal for tackling rocky and bumpy trails with roots, rocks and other obstacles.
The electric bike also has a "safety" that is when you reach the speed of 25 km / hour the engine is automatically deactivated (and becomes a "normal" bike) so as not to take too much speed.
The only downside, if you can say so, is that if you run out of battery, eBikes are much heavier than normal bikes, so you have to learn to "dose".
Of course, the advent of eBikes has sparked considerable debate within the cycling communities. Personally, I am in favor of electric mountain bikes and electric bikes in general, simply because they allow more and more people to enjoy a ride in the fresh air, which seems like a nice thing to me, provided everyone remains responsible.
In fact, the idea behind electric mountain bikes is not to be “competitive” but to make uphill cycling easier, thus also allowing amateurs to move to places that otherwise they would not be able to reach.
In short, the electric bikes allow everyone to enjoy a ride, and are much greener than the car!
L’EMTB Adventure in Torbole
Almost ready to go, I stock up on kilocalories… with my hair straighter than usual!
Thanks to Valentina di Garda Trentino we have planned, for when we went to visit her, a tour during the EMTB Adventure, a three day event held in Torbole to promote the discovery of the northern region of Lake Garda on the saddle of an electric mountain bike.
During this event, every day you can choose a different guided tour: these tours cover some of the best locations around the north of Lake Garda. The tours are divided between "difficult" and "easy", with the first about 35-40 km in length and 1000 m in altitude (with adrenaline-pumping descents in the woods), and the second usually around 45 km and 1500 m in height. difference in height, with gentle climbs and descents, suitable for everyone.
In short, the difference between "difficult" and "easy" routes does not only concern the length of the route and the difference in height, but also the technical difficulties such as slope, terrain and obstacles.
The price to join a day tour is € 100, which may seem quite expensive, but if you think that it includes a guide, a bike, lunch and even an aperitif, you realize that the price is absolutely right.
And when I say “the bike”, I don't mean an old eBike: all the participants had the chance to try a high performance electric mountain bike. To give you an idea, mine was a Focus that sells in stores for around € 4500! (plus I had a second backup battery).
Below you will also find the video of our day (and the one at the beginning that "smudges" the sweet is me. Thanks Garda Trentino!)
4 Bike routes not to be missed
1 - Monte Calino
My sparkling Focus on the way to the San Pietro Refuge
I opted for the "easy" tour of Monte Calino, which was strongly recommended to me for the incredible views that can be seen from the San Pietro refuge, where you have lunch, and then descend again to Torbole.
Our group cycled along the lakeside cycle path from Torbole to Riva del Garda, and then turned inland to the village of Lunch, crossing a spectacular scenery of silver olive groves overlooking the lake.
We then continued uphill towards the Tenno lake and its clear blue waters, where we stopped for a coffee and to take a breath. Lake Tenno is truly one of the most beautiful places in the region, and it could very well be the highlight of this itinerary - if it weren't for the fact that the route also crosses the photogenic medieval village of Tenno canal, with its cobbled streets and painted house facades, which I believe wins the palm for the most beautiful place ever.
First stop at Lake Tenno!
We then continued through a forest and a piece of paved road to San Pietro Refuge, located in a panoramic position on a natural "balcony" overlooking Lake Garda; in short, one of those places that I like because they are "at the top", those places that you look down and smile because you see where you started from and you think you never imagined being able to get to the top (but contrary to all predictions you have firmly believed in yourself).
Our group at the San Pietro refuge. I am hidden but if you look closely you will find me!
The descent was the most adrenaline-pumping part of this itinerary, with bends and bends through fields and woods, crossing the village of Canale di Tenno to finally reach the picturesque bow, where a super aperitif was waiting for us before following the cycle path along the Sarca river to return to Torbole.
In short, this itinerary I feel like recommend it to everyone because it is the perfect way to explore medieval villages (in particular Canale di Tenno, in the Club of the most beautiful villages in Italy, and Frapporta, directly below the Castle of Tenno) and the beauty of the woods, vineyards and Lake Tenno.
The magnificent views of Lake Garda on the way back to Arco
The tour took place mainly on secondary roads where traffic is limited, apart from small sections where you take the main road and you need to pay particular attention ... but we had Paolo, our guide who always made me feel safe!
I still eat my hands for not bringing my camera, the photos you see here were taken with my mobile phone, apart from those kindly granted by Garda Trentino and from the very good photographer Miha Matavz. I met a lot of places along the way where I could have taken much better pictures than these!
If you are looking for a cycling guide, you can still get in touch with Paolo which organizes beautiful bike tours all year round.
2 - Sarca Valley
My friend Margherita's group along the Sarca Valley. Thanks to @thecrowdedplanet for the pic!
The choice of my friend Margherita, on the other hand, was the "easy choice" of the tour Sarca Valley. The Sarca river plunges into Lake Garda starting from the Brenta Dolomites further north and along the river one of the best and easiest cycle paths has been built near Lake Garda.
Margherita and her group followed the cycle path from the starting point in Torbole to Dro, where the road turned into an uphill dirt path overlooking the Marocche by Dro, a field of glacial origin.
Along this itinerary, the dirt path varies from wide and comfortable to steep and rocky - Margherita still tells me today that electric bikes have been of great help.
On the way you also pass the famous ones the cliffs of Arco and the base of the Becco d'Aquila and, after crossing the town of Pietramurata, follow the road up to Pergolese where Margherita and her friends had lunch at the Weather in Cantina Pisoni, a biodynamic winery.
After lunch and some excellent glasses of wine, their group ascended to the opposite side of the Sarca River: first making a stop at the Cavedine Lake, a splendid turquoise lake rippled by the afternoon wind, and then entering a forest along a path that, according to what they told me, made his hair stand on end, climbing up and down more or less steep paths.
Out of the woods they cycled through olive groves and vineyards to Arco, where they had a coffee in the local micro-tower Omkafe and then the aperitif at the Our Lady of the Guards, a wine and olive producer, and also one of the best restaurants near Riva del Garda.
Of all the options, their tour was the one with the most stops for food and drink - and honestly I envied them a little bit!
3 - Ponale path
Lake Ledro seen from above
The most famous mountain bike route in the northern part of Lake Garda is certainly the Ponale path, a panoramic road that overlooks the lake and winds up to Lake Ledro.
The Ponale was the only road that connected Lake Garda and the Lake Ledro until 1990, when a wider road was opened, and in 2014 Ponale was transformed into a track for hiking or cycling.
The cycle path begins just behind the Riva hydroelectric power plant, before snaking up and through the mountains overlooking Lake Garda, through a series of tunnels and paths carved into the rock.
Along the Ponale path there are also some fortifications, since the northern shores of Lake Garda used to mark the border between Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire during the First World War.
However, the main attraction of this route are the panoramic points on Lake Garda.
It is a fairly easy route even with a normal bike, as it is only 10km long and not too steep, so riding it on an electric mountain bike is really "child's play".
The only downside is that being very popular, it is also very popular so the advice is to avoid going there in the summer (when it is very hot) and on weekends.
4 - From Riva del Garda to Torbole around Monte Brione
This itinerary between Riva and Torbole it's perfect for a leisurely ride. The flat area on which it runs makes it ideal for anyone who wants to bring even small children (as long as you are careful when crossing the road).
It is a ring around the Monte Brione, the spur of rock that separates Riva del Garda from Torbole and which is the unmistakable profile of Garda Trentino.
It is mainly a ride through built-up areas, running along cycle paths and back roads that cut through the countryside at the foot of the mountain.
This section of the cycle path is undoubtedly one of the most frequented by visitors and residents for the wonderful views it offers over the lake. It is particularly crowded in the summer season, so here too you have to pay attention to the people walking along the path. cycle path or cross it to reach the beach.
The best advice I can give you? Stop at one of the bars along the beach for an aperitif or a delicious ice cream overlooking the lake. What better way to end your bike ride?
There are many bike shops where you can buy accessories, spare parts, repair kits and the like, as well as rent / buy quality mountain bikes and electric mountain bikes.
For those who like to ride downhill but don't want to think even remotely about climbing hills, I recommend taking a look at the Bike Shuttle Torbole, managed by the friendly Luca who joins his customers on a bike ride every Thursday!
Disclaimer: first of all thanks to Valentina and all the Garda Trentino “staff”: this article would never have been written if I hadn't met and known all the people I talked to and who made this project possible together.
My thanks go to you: even if I have not mentioned all your names, I am sure that you will recognize each other between these lines.