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Mt. Torrage ridge

Castel Vittorio

Cycling around Pigna

Many of the rides we did I (Tracey) had worked out on our stay at Pigna 3 years ago, and had hazy memories of them, especially as regards how long it would take to do anything. I remembered the rides as taking about a morning, but mornings must have been longer in those days.

Sun 7 Sept: Baiardo–Perinaldo ride (51km, 1330m ascent)

Bouldery track

We took the road up past Castel Vittorio and upwards over into the Bonda valley. It is a very quiet road, past some olive farms and forest. For all that it seemed to be only 10km as the crow flies, it took ages and ages to reach Baiardo, by which time it was elevenses. Fortunately Bairdo is well supplied with eateries including a nice cafe on the main square with some good savoury snacks. From here, we took a double track on the W side of monte Bignone, which was quite rough enough. Near the Colle di Termini there’s a fork right from the double track which we tried, but it’s hopeless uphill – only try this in the other direction. From the pass, we went down the road towards Perinaldo and there’s a track leading off to the left a little way down. It is up for a little bit then there is an unrideable massively rutted descent to a ruined chapel, then from here there is a lovely stretch of singletrack. Later it descends some pretty difficult rounded bouldery sections. We were late getting to Perinaldo but had the luck to find a good restaurant. Then took the road back via Apricale. We got lost going out of Perinaldo, it’s a losing yourself sort of place. This happened to me last time too.

Col Muratone descent

Mon 8:Col Muratone–Pigna ride (23km, 1120m)

This was by far the best ride we did in this area. We rode up from the house which is by the Madonna di Campagna chapel, to the top of the pass Muratone; after the last houses a few km beyond the chapel it is a dirt/gravel road. Then we took the path down towards Pigna. It is excellent varied single track, starting in woods, followed by a lovely open section with views over to endless forested ridges. It is sustained fairly technical, getting more bouldery as you descend towards the bridge Ponte Baussou.

Colin shows how to ride bends

After the bridge it is doubletrack to the Madonna di Passoscio church – mostly straightforward but including an almost impossible steep section. From the church, there’s a pilgrimage path down to the village and this is a more technical made up with large stones with steep sharp turns, there’s also a fair amount of ups as well as downs. It comes out just above Pigna where there is a very steep concrete road with a couple of tight switchbacks. There is ice cream in Pigna.

Tues 9: The day we did 5·9 km (6km, 230m)

The Pigna trekking/mtb map shows a path down from the Gola di Gouta which crosses the road up from the Madonna di Campagna. We just rode up to the crossing point and tried following the path. It is waymarked but in a terrible state of repair, a bouldery path very overgrown and with many stones missing. There was one sublime sharp steep double-bend in good repair that Colin could do. We gave up eventually and as soon as we crossed a double-track took that in the Pigna direction but it doubled back and took us back to the chapel. This was all of 5·96km.

Weds 10: Anello di M. Vetta (21km, 830m)

Castel Vittorio

Descent to Pigna


Road block

This was one we’d devised from the map, which turns out to be a waymarked route anyway, route number 716. We started by taking the white road a couple of km south of Pigna, which crosses the river and heads parallel to the main road before heading east up the side valley. The road was half-heartedly marked as being chiusa but it wasn’t. It is the usual mix of tarmac, concrete and dirt but higher up becomes good tarmac – there are several houses and farms and the access to them is from the pass above. The road meets the Castel Vittorio – Baiardo road, which we followed for a short distance before descending leftwards on one of those classic shrine paths. This is a great descent. A fairly wide cobbled path, and often very steep and technical. This takes you through Castel Vittorio which has plenty of steps, then the route continues on a similar path down to a bridge and a ruined abandoned church. Thence into Pigna (where there is ice cream) and if you cross the river you find a pleasant double-track back to the start.

This was another ride from the Pigna map, which I’d done 3 years ago. To do it you have a long climb up to Colla Langan. When I did it before, this road was blocked by a motor-car race and I’d pushed the bike all the way up the roughstuff on order to ride down it. This time the obstacle was – you’ve guessed – a strada chiusa, frana. The frana was a few km up the road and this time it was a very convincing one – half the road had been swept away. It was no problem for us as there was plenty of room for bikes and in truth there were a few cars getting through. We rode up through a wonderful landscape of mysterious hills cloaked in forest on what was thanks to the frana, a very quiet road. From the pass we headed westwards towards M Torragio in its terrifying glory. Northwards there are views of the big west-east ridge, inviting us to plan another trip.

The weather hadn’t been all that great over the last couple of days and it had rained a little. We found the start of the path off the track towards the reservoir which splits left form the road; it is clearly marked Buggio. It’s a little tricky to start descening woods on very rooty paths; the damp made this treacherous. Soon the path becomes very steep in sections and there are very technical bends. We didn’t manage much of this, in the conditions, a pity, but it looked pretty hard. The steepness eases off when the path crosses a small stream, and there’s an extended section which isn’t hard but has a few nice obstacles, it’s a pleasant ride. Something to beware of is the 2" death-pipe that follows the path in some sections. It you try to cross this at an angle you find it remarkably slippery.

When there were gaps in the trees, Mt Torragio was visible and ever more impressive. It was dizzying to think we’d been up there. The path steepens a little and there are some fun rocky sections; it was good to be able to ride these because it was a little drier here as it was more open. A challenging scree slope leads to the Madonna di Lausegno church.

The church path down to Buggio starts with some good bends but overall it’s a lot steeper and harder than the Madonna di Passoscio path, and we didn’t ride it all. The craziest thing of the day was when we finally got to Buggio to find a road to the village entirely blocked by a road maintenance truck.

Fri 12: Baiardo – M. Collettazzo (47km, 1240m)

Colle Serro

Thurs 11: Lago Tenarda – Buggio (34km, 1420m)


Genoese chapel

We took a road route up through Apricale to Baiardo, then the minor road towards M. Ceppo. This minor road was very narrow and in forest. Roughly about Colle Serro we were hoping to find a path back to Baiardo. It wasn’t easy to find – it starts near some rural houses set deeply in big plots, and it looks like the sign for the path has been vandalised. We pushed up to the ridge where the path becomes a good narrow singletrack, leading up to a chapel. There is another path up the chapel from further back on the road, but it had looked to be a push. The path continues a bit wider and at some point it forks – the right hand looked more fun but we ended up on an unrideable steep loose descent. Next time we’ll try the other way. This was a short but fun ride; inference from the waymarks suggests that the MTB route starts higher up on M. Ceppo so next time we’ll look for the full route. Baiardo, unfortunately, does not have much in the way of ice cream.

Sat 13: Menton – Nice (36km, 630m)

We drove to Menton, where we’d hired the car, and rode to Nice to spend our last night on holiday. Although we tried to find minor roads there’s too much traffic, much of it connecting Monaco with the autoroute.

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