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Only the brave – ride the Mediterranean’s Alta Via Stage Race

Holger S.

Only the brave – ride the Mediterranean’s Alta Via Stage Race

Mountain Biking Collection by Holger S.

10-22

days

3-6 h

/ day

400 mi

70,325 ft

70,375 ft

I wanted to take part in the legendary Alta Via Stage Race and get to know Italy’s Liguria region and the Finale Ligure’s well-known singletrack. The atmosphere and ambience are usually very friendly at events like the Alta Via Stage Race and you get to know great biking regions from the local point of view. In the evening, after an exhausting and eventful day, great food and a festival atmosphere await.

For various reasons, I was never able to take part in the Alta Via Stage Race, which is why I asked the organisers for the route data so that I could explore it on my own at a later date. In autumn 2021, the time had come and my girlfriend and I set off on our Alta Via adventure. You can find the original uncut route of our trip here: komoot.com/collection/1350008.

I’ve planned this Collection based on our experience so that you can follow the tracks of the Alta Via Stage Race with or without camping equipment. In the stage descriptions, I give you information on possible accommodation in addition to tips on the route conditions and supply options.

As a bikepacking Tour, this route naturally lends itself to a real adventure: you are independent and can plan stages as you feel comfortable. You certainly won’t miss the weight of any camping equipment on the trails and hike-a-bike sections. Lighter luggage is also less of a hindrance on technically demanding descents. In the evening, you can enjoy the luxury of a shower and the specialities of Ligurian cuisine. No matter how you approach it, the Alta Via challenges you and pushes you to the edge of your comfort zone. The slogan ‘Only the brave’ is quite justified to sum up the character of this adventure.

The Alta Via Stage Race is based on the Alta Via dei Monti Liguri long-distance hiking trail. Along the route, the red and white AV or AVML markings guide you on foot. The race’s route regularly leaves the hiking trail to include more beautiful singletrack or save unnecessary pushing and carrying sections every now and again. You ride parallel to the coast of the Ligurian Sea, through the Ligurian Apennines to the Ligurian Alps. You experience the rough, partly wild and yet enchanting landscape of Liguria between the Cinque Terre cliffs and Ventimiglia on the French border. On lonely, ancient paths you discover a very original and fascinating region of Italy with friendly, open-minded people and great cuisine.

I can recommend this Collection to all experienced mountain bikers and bikepackers with an adventurous spirit. It is technically demanding. If you’re familiar with the Finale Ligure’s singletrack, you’ll have a rough idea of what to expect on the Alta Via. Pushing uphill and hike-a-bike sections are just as much a part of the route as its racy enduro descents and long, flowing singletrack. Alpine climbs and gruelling saw-tooth hills are part of the itinerary too. Of course, as well as unpaved roads, there are asphalted sections that allow you to gain some distance and recover a little. Expect varied terrain that sometimes surprises and often delights.

A few tips for your trip:

Compared to Transalp routes, you will find much less tourist infrastructure in the Ligurian hinterland. Take advantage of every opportunity to fill up your water and get supplies at the few shops or huts you find along the way. It is best to book your accommodation in advance and ask about the current opening hours.

For any support during your trip in the form of luggage transport, guided Tours, help with technical problems or possible alternative routes without gravel, you’ll find plenty of information online. Claudio Simonetti is the best person to contact for information on the Alta Via by bike.

Getting there:

Travelling by train in Italy is relatively cheap. Bikes are even carried on regional trains without requiring a reservation or additional costs. On the other hand, the parking facilities are sometimes somewhat cramped. Bicycle parking is usually in the first or last carriage. Trains run almost every half hour between Ventimiglia and La Spezia. This gives you plenty of room for spontaneous time management if you need an espresso or a focaccia on the way to the station.

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Only the brave – Auf den Spuren des Alta Via Stage Race

400 mi

70,525 ft

70,650 ft

Last updated: January 28, 2022

Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Etappe 1: Von Riomaggiore nach Santuario Nostra Signora di Soviore – Auf den Spuren des Alta Via Stage Race

    Difficult
    03:59
    21.5 mi
    5.4 mph
    4,500 ft
    3,050 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    The first stage is manageable and you can slowly adjust to your adventure. You can expect a wonderful panoramic route, flowing single trails and one or two steep climbs.

    It starts in Riomaggiore, the easternmost village of the Cinque Terre. Narrow, almost tower-like nested, colorfully painted houses

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  • Difficult
    05:43
    32.2 mi
    5.6 mph
    6,000 ft
    4,275 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    After a restful night in the monastery, the real original Liguria without tourist frills awaits you on the second day. You will experience fantastic trails, panoramic views over the coast from over 1,000 meters and challenging climbs. Now you are in the middle of the adventure.

    The altitude profile doesn

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  • Difficult
    05:42
    34.3 mi
    6.0 mph
    5,525 ft
    5,625 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    The first highlight of the new stage, which will brighten your day, starts right after your accommodation. A beautiful ridge road offers you a fantastic view on clear days. If you start as early as possible, you can particularly enjoy this passage with the rising sun and the associated play of colors

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  • Difficult
    06:01
    32.7 mi
    5.4 mph
    5,950 ft
    7,900 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    From the Passo del Bocco, after a short rolling phase, you go straight into the first spectacular single trail, which takes you to a remote high valley where time seems to have stood still. Small hamlets, ruins and ancient paths characterize the municipality of Sopralacroce, which is located in a side

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  • Difficult
    07:49
    50.7 mi
    6.5 mph
    8,200 ft
    8,100 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    After the fourth stage had some highlights for enduro bikers to offer, the fifth stage will be more moderate in terms of riding technique. However, the proportion of single trail sections remains high and you will often be able to enjoy the view to the sea on the narrow ridge paths of the Alta Via. With

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  • Difficult
    06:08
    34.8 mi
    5.7 mph
    6,675 ft
    4,525 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    You leave the Valle Scrivia after a short detour to the town of Casella, where you can get another boost of energy for the day and fill up your reserves at the supermarket or the Pasticceria Mario. A new, extremely varied day awaits you, which will inspire you at the end with a fantastic view.

    The route

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  • Difficult
    05:06
    30.3 mi
    5.9 mph
    4,700 ft
    5,575 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    If you are surprised at the comparatively low number of meters in altitude and kilometers or are even looking forward to a relaxing day of rest, then expect a remarkable day that will be remembered and that requires time to enjoy the impressive landscape. The section between the Passo del Faiallo and

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  • Difficult
    05:52
    41.3 mi
    7.0 mph
    4,475 ft
    6,925 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    After a restful night in the cozy Rifugio Cascina Miera, you can look forward to a really nice combination of forest paths and built flow trails with a surface of soft forest floor, which will sweeten your start into the day, after a short uphill section. This will put you in a good mood and get you

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  • Difficult
    07:15
    38.5 mi
    5.3 mph
    8,125 ft
    7,225 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    The day begins with a long, enduring but moderate climb to Melogno, where the bike shuttle buses turn around and take mountain bikers to the start of the famous Rollercoaster trail. At the Bar Ristorante DIN you can treat yourself to a cappuccino and cornetto and then continue up into the impressive

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  • Difficult
    09:03
    52.0 mi
    5.7 mph
    10,850 ft
    11,025 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    After a hearty breakfast, you climb from Nasino on the narrow mountain road to the Colle di Caprauna at 1,375 meters in the morning. The Val Pennavaire, dominated by Mediterranean mixed forests and countless chestnut trees, is deep green. Numerous jagged limestone cliffs protrude from the dense green

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  • Difficult
    05:27
    31.8 mi
    5.8 mph
    5,375 ft
    6,150 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    Did you take a closer look at the route of the Alta Via Stage Race? The race ends - at least in 2021 - in Pigna. With this you can enjoy a bonus day today to return to the Alta Via dei Monti Liguri route and end your crossing of Liguria by the sea in Ventimiglia.

    The final stage pulls out all the stops

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    11
  • Distance
    400 mi
  • Duration
    68:05 h
  • Elevation
    70,325 ft70,375 ft

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Only the brave – ride the Mediterranean’s Alta Via Stage Race

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