The mountains around Lago di Garda by MTB.
Updated: Mar 23, 2020
I had already some experience with the mountains around the Garda Lake, when the finish of my AlpenCross (2014) was in Riva del Garda. Back then I had two days to ride the mountains on both sides of the lake. But the weather wasn't great at that time; clouds were limiting the view and thick fog made it impossible so see the beauty of this place. So I knew that one day I had to come back, and that day was in September 2017!
Day 1: Monte Pasubio.
Monte Pasubio has a lot of 'recent' history; 100 years ago there was some fierce fighting between Austrians and Italian armies on this mountain. This results in some old military roads that are great to explore by MTB or by foot. The road pass through tunnels and along monuments remembering this period of war. Also, the shape of the landscape has been influenced by bombing and fighting. The abandoned forts and bunkers are spread all over the mountain, so this is a trip where one won't get bored
Before reaching the Monte Pasubio, we visited the beginning of a monstrous climb; the Scanuppia! 8,6km with an average gradient of 13,6 and a maximum of 28,7%. We didn't have the time to climb this road, but the figures show that it's better to be on a mountainbike than to be on a road bike when riding here.
Day 2: Tremalzo Pass.
This day started with a warming up along the lake, followed by the ferry from Malcesine to Limone; two very crowded touristic places. But once you leave the main roads and head for the mountains it gets peaceful and quiet, especially when riding the offroad tracks.
Not every piece of the followed route was "cyclable", and there was a lot of pushing the bike on steep rocky paths, but the views are worth the effort. All this walking caused some delay on the planning and the sun was already low on the horizon when we reached the summit of the Tremalzo Pass. From thereon it would only descend... Or at least, that's what we thought! The downhill track is very spectacular during the first kilometers; many switchbacks and breathtaking views over the Lake Garda, but some sections are very technical and that's were you may lose time. We were happy to have some lights on our bikes because we arrived back in Riva long after the sun had gone down.
Day 3: Monte Baldo.
The first time I stood on top of Monte Baldo (the 2000m high mountain on the east of Lake Garda) there was too much fog and clouds to be able to see the lake 2000m lower. So this time, if we would ride up that mountain, it would be when the sky was clear! The ride to the top was mainly on asphalt roads during 45km. No too steep gradients and because it's on road, it's somewhat easier. A special piece of road runs from the bottom of the barrier lake (Lago di Pra della Stua) where hairpins have gradients from around 20%. The final kilometers to the top of Monte Baldo are more touristic with more traffic. Nevertheless is't pleasant to ride it by bike, just be careful for the motorcycles which tend to ride faster than the small roads might allow. The last 500m to the top start from a small restaurant. The path is often too steep to ride it, especially if you took a break in the restaurant and your legs got blown up after resuming the trip. But because it's only 500m of pushing, this might be no problem. Once you reach the top, and the sky is clear, you get a magnificent view over Lake Garda and the towns of Riva and Torbole. To get back down, we took a very technical, rocky, steep path where most of the time we were carrying the bikes. I bet there have to be nicer ways to get down, and let that be a nice reason to come back one day..!