We recently decided to relocate Eskapee HQ to Finale Ligure, Italy for a solid month of riding, with a little work thrown in. Over the month we got to see the little seaside town in more depth than what a quick weekend would allow. Here are our top 12 observations, tips, and general ramblings – in no particular order.
- Flat paddles win medals
We have never seen as many riders with flat pedals as we have seen in Finale Ligure. Admittedly we haven’t ridden much in Europe so maybe it’s more common than we see in other places but it’s a safe bet that Europe is winning some kind of flat pedal medal. After a few too many over-the-bars excursions on the super steep stuff we even started to toy with the idea of ditching the clips.
- Industrial Revolution
The industrial revolution of trail building is yet to arrive in Finale Ligure. So, don’t expect anything to be machine built, containing the word “flow” in the trail name, or smooth enough to hold the 2018 billiard world championships on. 100% hand-made and most probably not very IMBA certified. Expect raw, steep, eroded, old-school, and very much a great version of mountain biking.
Don’t let that scare you off though. Just because it’s not machine built doesn’t mean there aren’t trails for everyone.
- Coffee is not a take-away item
Coffee is to be enjoyed in what Italians believe is a moment to relax with friends and discuss topical events. These may include former Prime Minister Berlusconi’s mistresses and how life will go on after Italy’s football team missed its ticket to the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Coffee is not a take-away item and as such there’s no non-recyclable cups being used as fashion accessories as you walk around town. (The same cup that ends up in landfill and one day washes up on the beaches of Tahiti.) Even if you’re in a rush, you can choose to stand at a bar in the café and have a quick chat with a local. And the added bonus, you’ll be doing a little something for the environment.
Oh, and don’t ask for the wrong coffee at the wrong time of day. Cappuccinos are not served after dinner 🙂
- Learn to Turn
Cutting laps in your favourite bike park isn’t going to cut it here. On certain trails you’re going to have to learn how to turn a bike on a very, very small radius. As our bikes get longer, lower, and slacker that’s becoming a pretty hard task. Our advice: study all the insta-movies of Ludo May or purchase one of those articulated “swing bikes” to get yourself around the switchbacks. Not every trail is like this, but it’s best to be prepared.
Yeah, the eMTB thing is pretty big in Europe and Finale Ligure has its fare share of pedal-assistance on show. If you’re into them you won’t have rocks thrown at the back of your head and you will be safe in numbers. If you’re not into them then it gives you plenty of targets to hang shit on as you sip your caprisoskas at the end of the day on the trails.
Using a little bit of local lingo goes a long way. To greet someone more formally it’s buon giorno. To greet them less formally it’s ciao. To be even more casual and familiar it’s ciao ciao. If you want to be really relaxed and super casual just keep adding more ciaos to the mix and so you’ll be saying ciao ciao ciao ciao ciao to all and you’ll be a local in no time.