There are times in every touring cyclist’s life when the decision to ride or not to ride during a multi-day tour must be made. Do you hop on the bicycle and GO? Or do you stay and redirect your focus away from riding. Factors to consider before setting out can be numerous:

  • Housekeeping chores…do you need a laundry or re-supply day?
  • Physical condition and stamina…are you exhausted or would you like an extended break?
  • Where you need to be and when…perhaps a particular attraction (museum, church, cave) calls to you, its a “work” day and the tour schedule allows time off?

We believe there is an even more critical time NOT to head out on your bicycle.


Clouds lifting above the Maurienne Valley, France
And its dictated by Mother Nature.

Sure, you’ve heard “as long as you have the right gear, you can ride in any weather”. While we subscribe to that philosophy, our over-arching value is SAFETY. We believe you cannot have fun, unless you are staying safe.

It was put to the test one day in the Italian Dolomites as we had a lovely, cool climb up the Passo Mendola. Past apple orchards and through verdant pine forests, we rode along under a pleasant cloud cover remaining from the previous day’s rain. We summited the pass admiring the copper pots adorning the albergos and the classic cars rallying for an event.

Then we began our descent on the windy, twisty road. Within a 1/4 mile we entered a cloud bank. The tarmac was still damp, the air humid and heavy. Our bicycle lights were totally ineffective to cut through the thick fog. Five feet in front of me I could barely discern my riding buddy, much less the road surface speeding at me as we careened down toward Bolzano.

Our small peloton of 4 slowed to a crawl in order to steer through surface obstacles, we took breaks and communicated verbally and loudly. We heard car brakes screech as they approached hair-pin turns, or US, from behind on the narrow lane – their headlights barely giving the drivers any warning of cyclists mere inches from steep slopes or their bumpers.

After several miles “in the cloud” we gratefully, and safely, descended safely into town. We remain grateful for the lessons that Dolomite descent taught us about European alpine weather. Our reward in 2013 when confronted by thick stratus on Col de Madeleine? We stayed out of the clouds and rode safely on the next day!

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