What's Cool In Road Cycling

LAKE GARDA Contest: The WINNER IS!

CONGRATULATIONS: To long time PEZ-Fan Hannu Heikkilä of Finland – the winner of our cycling week holiday in Lake Garda. This could be the best week of his life – superb riding in Italy’s famous lakes district, local guides who know the best roads, amazing Italian food & drink, and a luxurious stay at a newly renovated family-run boutique hotel with the guys at Garda Bike Hotels.

I love how fans all over the world read PEZ, and over the last 10 years of giving away some of the coolest prizes in cycling we’ve had readers enter PEZ contests from all over the globe. But our winner Hannu Heikkilä is the first ever from Finland.

While entering the contest was easy, actually getting connected from opposite sides of the planet took a few days as we sorted out the 9 hour time difference between PEZ HQ and Finland. But a suitable skype session was tee’d up last week after Hannu returned home after midnight from his annual office Christmas party and I was able to give him his first present.

Like many long time PEZ-Fans, Hannu couldn’t remember exactly when he started reading PEZ, but also like so many of us, he’s into the big rides, gran fondos, and typically plans a cycling holiday with his buddies each year – including trips to Spain, France, and a memorable ride from Zurich to Venice. He’ll be in good company as guest of Garda Bike Hotels.

Thanks to everyone else for entering – and if you’ve been wanting to book that cycling holiday to Italy, look no further than Garda Bike Hotel:
• Read the PEZ-Report on Enjoy Garda Hotel here
• I rode the Gran Fondo Damiano Cunego here with the PEZ-Crew in 2012 – it’s another good example of how Nicola & Alberto take care of guests.

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The riding is unequaled in Italy, ancient roads, epic climbs, stunning scenery, and of course ‘la vida Italiana’ – Italians just know how to enjoy life better than most. And when you stay with hosts who are cyclists and locals themselves, you get the insider scoop – the kind of access you’d never find on your own. All this could be yours as we’re giving away a one week stay for two people – just for reading PEZ.
All you gotta do is enter below.

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First off – I fully endorse Garda Bike Hotels – it’s the best bike hotel on Lake Garda, and created and run by Nicola & Alberto Verdollin – two brothers who started in the hospitality business working in their parents’ hotel, and have years of experience hosting professional teams & corporate groups of all sizes – including pro-Tour cycling teams.  I’ve stayed with them three different times over the past 7 years, and their consistently high delivery has earned them the official ‘PEZ Stamp of Approval’.

They know how to supply all the ingredients for an awesome cycling holiday – great riding, delicious food & drink, a luxurious, modern and well-run hotel that really makes me feel like I’m on a vacation.  But the biggest difference is the family-run attention they offer (both their parents are still involved in the daily operations of the hotel) –  this business is their livelihood, and they really do care that guests have a great stay come back again, and want to tell their friends about it.  (Which is exactly what I’m doing here.)

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Riding through the Valpolicella wine region is as scenic as the wine is tasty.

Lake Garda is the biggest of Italy’s famed lakes, and boasts the best year round climate in northern Italy. The riding around Lake Garda has it all – endless miles of flats to the south on the vast Lombard plain – rolling hills through the lush vineyards of the Valpolicella region – and long climbs in the Monte Baldo range that runs 40km along the east side of the lake.  And to sweeten the deal, Garda Bike Hotels offers a fully secured bike room, on-site mechanic, a full rental fleet of top-line brands like De Rosa, Pinarello and Merckx (so you can avoid the hassle of flying with your bike), a crew of accomplished guides for all levels of rider, fully supported ride routes, and they even have electric bikes for a spouse or anyone looking for a more relaxed way to tour the region.

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The ancient walls of Peschiera del Garda that once repelled attackers now offer a welcome return from the many rides in the region.

Garda Bike Hotel’s base is in Peschiera del Garda, one of a string of postcard-perfect towns that ring the shimmering shores of Lago di Garda – along with others like Sirmione, Desenzano, Limone sul Garda – that date to Roman times and roots as fishing and trading posts, then grew into hospitality and tourist destinations of their own as the Lake gained prominence as a playground for the rich & privileged.  The hotel is literally five minutes off the A4 autostrada that connects all of northern Italy – and offers speedy access from airports in Milano, Bergamo, and nearby Verona (just 25km by car).  Even Bologna and Venice are within 90 minutes.

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The hotel is fantastic – situated just a 5 minute walk from the lake shore and the walls of the old town, it was fully gutted and renovated two years ago, all the 43 rooms are modern European design, comfortable, and filled with all the free wifi you can handle. The lobby and bar are inviting and comfortable, and the restaurant staff prepares excellent quality food as only the Italians can, and serves it with pride.  On a recent stay while dining with Mrs. Pez, the head waiter casually placed on our table one of the biggest bottles of grappa I’ve ever seen, along with the comment that “this is for you, for later…”

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Rooms are comfortable and modern, with full free wifi throughout.

There’s more than enough food to keep you fully fueled, the wine list is impressive – with even the lower priced wines so delicious you’ll easily drink your way through a bottle at dinner (at least I did.)  And even the desserts are made in house.

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You can take your own bike, or arrange for rental of one the top road brands available at the hotels like de Rosa and Merckx.

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If you’ve been wanting to book that cycling holiday to Italy, look no further than Garda Bike Hotel, and I’m pleased to offer a chance to win this amazing trip to PEZ-Fans:
• Read the PEZ-Report on Enjoy Garda Hotel here
• I rode the Gran Fondo Damiano Cunego here with the PEZ-Crew in 2012 – it’s another good example of how Nicola & Alberto take care of guests.

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Alberto, Nicola and their team of guides will be your hosts.

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