Or as they seemed to say in Italy, ciaooooooooouuuuuuu!

So I was lucky enough to go on a wonderful trip to Italy in September--Toscano, Liguria (Cinque Terre), Lombardia (Lake Como), and Milano--and while cycling wasn't the focus of the trip, one of our hosts made us an offer we couldn't refuse. We had planned to rent road bikes one day and do some toodling around Lake Como, but when our host asked if we wanted a guide and noted that there was only a guide fee (which was ridiculously low) and no extra fee for the bikes (which were decent Fondriest bikes), we couldn't say no.

In summary, it turned into an awesome impromptu group ride. Our guide, Fabio (yes, that is really his name) seemed to know everyone else on a bicycle and boy, do a lot of people ride there. Along the way we picked up several of his friends, including a baker, a priest out on his daily ride, and a handful of other gentlemen. Apparently everyone wanted to ride with the ladies. According to our guide, not many women ride for "sport" in Italy. Many do for transportation (commuting), but it is quite unusual for women to ride like so many of us do here in the U.S. Our guide was delighted that we wanted to climb. Of all the riders we saw (dozens), we only saw one other woman.

To top it off, our hotel was only a few kilometers from the chapel dedicated to the Madonna of Ghisallo, the patron saint of cyclists. We went to the chapel twice. It is a magical place.

Enjoy these photos from our little ride and of the chapel. Complete set can be seen here.

One of the roads we rode up. That's Lake Como in the background.

My friend and I on one of the climbs. We are smiling because we are riding bikes in Italy!

That's me with Fabio. Uh, yeah.

A statue outside of the Madonna of Ghisallo's chapel

THE chapel.

Just in awe.

A little shrine to Il Pirata