I remember stealing the Settimana Enigmistica newspaper from my grandmother as a child. I was too old for the children’s colouring books, but I was also too much of a child to understand most of that magazine. My absolute favourite page was the one with two hidden pictures that sparked my curiosity and ignited my desire to discover. The two images were hidden in two boxes: one box said to colour the dots, the other had the dots to be joined.
“Connect the dots” was the game that I liked best of all, and who knows if this adventure didn't begin there, one summer a few years ago, at my grandmother's house. It's a memory that often comes back to me when I am out riding. In the unpaved uphill sections where there is little chat, when fatigue rises and breath becomes short, my concentration increases and my mind wanders back-and-forth, and I relive all my experiences on the bike and beyond.
We're a group of friends with the same approach to cycling, built around the desire for experiences, exploration and bikepacking trips. We share a passion for adventure and discovery, as well as a willingness to stop for a photo or a drink regardless of distance travelled or pace, with the aim of making the experience as social and rewarding as possible. We believe that these are fundamental elements in making a bikepacking adventure a success.
Sometimes, instead of returning to childhood, memories go back only a few months. At the end of 2021, I turned on my computer, opened Komoot and started thinking about an original route that doesn't go beyond regional borders. Skip forward a number of months later, I started to connect the dots again. This created a 170km loop with 3,750m of altitude difference on, fun and technical terrain. The route navigates the Umbrian Apennines, passing through the municipalities of Foligno, Nocera Umbra and Sellano, crossing the suggestive plateaus of the Regional Park of Colfiorito and the picturesque perched villages.
Nowadays, planning a date to ride a multi-day excursion can seem a bigger challenge than the ride itself. Finding a free weekend for everyone can be tricky, the only possible solution is to plan ahead, spread the word among friends and trust that they will do all they can to be there.
Ok, I'll give it a try!
Five of us answered the call, not a bad result considering that we were in autumn and the forecast expected fairly low night time temperatures. We split the loop into two days by organising a wild campsite halfway along the route. We decided to ride lightweight, so we brought our tents and groceries to the campsite the night before.
We carried the rest of our gear in a saddle bag or frame bag, all of them fairly light. For a two-day trip , we only needed the bare essentials.
After a few kilometres, we entered the first unpaved sections and faced the first climbs and descents.
By mid-morning we reached the village of Nocera Umbra for a pit-stop with a snack, coffee and some photos before setting off again towards our favourite place to cycle because it fulfils our sense of exploration - the Regional Park of Colfiorito. We crossed a series of dirt and grassy dual-track roads, including ancient lake basins drained both naturally and by man, and its marsh, perhaps the most significant part of the area.
Passing the town of Colfiorito, another 10 km separated us from the endpoint of the first day. After a quick stop for a photo at the Piani di Ricciano, we arrived at 5.30 p.m. After some dirt trails, quiet asphalt roads, forests, meadows, coffee, snacks, laughter, ever-changing landscapes and incredibly no punctures, day one is done. We took advantage of the last light of the day and started setting up the tents, ice-cold shower, beer, fire, barbecued meat, and the evening goes by like clockwork.
On the morning of the second day, as soon as we woke up, we made coffee and Alberto, as usual, does his utmost to arrange everything and leave no trace of our presence.
Time to fill our bags and we were back on track.
We had a tough day ahead of us and quite a bit of elevation gain to complete the route. The cool temperature lived up to the forecast. Without enough time to warm up our legs, we were in a series of unpaved roads, some surrounded by forest and others downhill with a view of Monte di Pale, leading to the Menotre Valley. After reaching the village of Pale, a 4 km of single track that skirts the Menotre river allowed us to first reach and cross Rasiglia and then Verchiano. In the final part, after reaching the summit of Monte Serano, a beautiful 8 km descent of asphalt brought us to Foligno and finished the loop in Piazza della Repubblica.
From this shared adventure, the project and the idea of organising an event like AUGH was born. The only way we could choose to do this is the one we know best: to go out onto the field and test it for ourselves. AUGH is something a bit wild and genuine that is driven by a wonderful group of friends. It all stems from a passion for bikes, a love for our land, a desire to share our experiences and to spread the word about our idea of bikepacking.