Your Home in Piemonte
Your home for the week is a meticulously maintained, family-run 3-star hotel in the village of Chiusa del Pesio (population high-3000s). It’s been in the same family for 4 generations. The current owner, Tommaso Vigna, is molto simpatico, a prize-winning amateur cyclist*, and the hotel’s professionally-schooled chef, serving up delicious renditions of classics of Italian cuisine, as well as inventive creations of his own. His wife, Alessandra, operates the computer at the front desk, keeps the books, and together with the hotel staff seats guests and waits tables in the dining room, and pitches in with housecleaning and laundry. She’s a former member of the Italian national Nordic ski team. You’ll see their kids during the course of the week, and also come to recognize the other staff members. The hotel has a sun deck in the back, and secure bike storage in the (finished) basement. In a sitting area near the bar is a wide-screen TV, perfect for live coverage of the Giro d’Italia or Tour de France.
* Greg Lemond stayed at the hotel when Tommaso had just reached adulthood. The Giro had just finished a wet day and Lemond’s custom-made shoes were soaking. Tommaso was assigned to get them dried, and naïvely put them in the kitchen oven to speed up the drying process. The shoes were just about ruined and there wasn’t a backup pair. The next day, Lemond showed up at the starting line with his shoes duct-taped together. Mario Cipollini, always impeccably decked out, was next to him and gave him no end of grief for his fashion faux pas. Cipollini & Lemond met again at the 2009 Interbike show and, happening to remember the incident, recounted it on stage to a packed audience including the media, though of course Lemond (perhaps fortunately) no longer remembered Tommaso by name.
Having a fixed home base frees us to be more flexible, fine-tune and adjust our ride selections each riding day to suit you, as well as current weather and road conditions. With our support van, we’re not limited to the immediate vicinity. We can extend our range by driving, say, part-way to Alba to ride amongst the vineyards and rolling hills of the Langhe, or drive one way to visit a destination and ride back (or vice versa).
We normally begin the day shortly after breakfast, starting at 8 am. We’ll review the day’s route before setting off before 9 am. We’ll stop for lunch between noon and 1 pm. Lunch will usually be a leisurely affair lasting 1–1½ hours. Those who don’t wish to stop as long are welcome to pursue optional additional miles we can suggest. Keep in mind, however, after about 1:30 it’ll be just about impossible to find food until dinnertime, which is typically not until 8 pm. We’ll resume riding after lunch, and generally be back at home base before 4 pm, leaving ample time to freshen up and unwind before dinner. You’ll probably find the evening meal stretching out over 2 hours or more, leaving just a little time perhaps to stroll around town before you’ll want to turn in to be rested for the next day.
On the road you are at liberty to ride at the most comfortable pace for you. We’ll provide maps and/or cue sheets, and accompany the ride to be at turns to point the way, sweep the route and regroup regularly so you don’t have to work at navigating your way and no one gets left behind. If the group includes riders of widely divergent abilities, we’ll use our van to assist: we can start slower riders ahead, and give riders a lift over climbs they’d rather not tackle. Depending on the route, we may also be able to offer more mileage/climbing options to advanced riders.
Chiusa is not just a winter destination for cross-country skiers and a summer destination for hikers, but also a village where people have real lives and raise families. The Glass and Ceramics Museum, just a few steps from our hotel, exhibits the history and development of glassware, crystal and ceramics production in and near the town. Chiusa’s 3 churches are all lavishly decorated inside. Evenings there occasionally are free concerts either in Chiusa or at one of the nearby towns, or local festivals.
There are banks with ATMs, a supermarket, cafés (which are called bar in Italian), bakeries/pastry shops, food stores, a post office, a sporting goods shop, restaurants, more hair stylists than you’d expect for a village of its size, gas stations, and many other small businesses. A brief stroll from the hotel is a climbing gym with two outdoor climbing towers and an indoor bouldering course.
Adjacent to the hotel is the piazza, site of the weekly Sunday open-air market, and the stop for buses to Cuneo or Mondovì. Cuneo is the provincial capital and the nearby “big city” with a train station on the line between Turin and Nice. Mondovì is on the train line to Savona and other seaside resort towns on the Mediterranean.