Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ride to Madonna del Ghisallo, Part I

Well, my great cycling adventure in Italy is coming to a close. Ms. E and I decided a few months ago to return home to the USA and now the time is nearing to leave. Therefore, the Gruppo 1 club ride this past Saturday to the Madoona del Ghisallo happened to be a fitting end to the adventure.

Madonna del Ghisallo is the patroness of cyclists, so proclaimed by Pope Pius XII during the 1949 Giro d'Italia. This tiny church is located on a hilltop in the northern Italian hamlet of Magreglio near Lago di Lecco. The shrine is filled with artifacts, photos, jerseys, and bicycles. Riders such as Coppi and Bartali have given their bicycles and jerseys to the church by way of thanks for winning races. You can also see the Caloi bike of Fabio Casartelli from the Motorola team on which he crashed and died from his injuries.

The Museo del Ciclismo has opened a few meters away from the shrine. On May 31, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI blessed the the final stone of the building in the Vatican.

We used the club van for the trip from Verona to the town of Pontida. There we dismounted our bikes and began our 45 km trip through the towns of Canzo, Asso, Pusiano and onto Magreglio da Erba where the shrine is located. This is the "southern" route and less difficult than the "northern" route from Bellagio, 10% vs. 18% max grades.

We spent about 2 hours at the shrine and museum. The museum is of an open design which I found very inviting. Lots of natural light made the viewing very comfortable. You could easily spend an entire there if you wanted to examine all the bikes, photos, and other materials carefully.

The main three main areas of the museum are as follows:

entrance, ticket office and information, souvenir and book shop

memorabilia case, design of the bicycle, encyclopedia of cycling, 24 + 24 section, champions on screen, relaxation area

library, conference room/workshops, temporary exhibitions, offices

See http://www.museodelghisallo.it/ for more information.

After our visit we had an excellent lunch at a nearby restaurant. Then we climbed on our bikes and wound our way back to Pontida and finshed the day with 98 KMs.

Photos: lake views on the way to Madonna del Ghisallo, we arrive, the shrine (note the two monuments in front, the one on the left is of Bartali, on the right Coppi), me next to the Coppi monument.

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