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In addition to an abundant network of lovely scenic roads, the Veneto region offers an equally extensive array of unpaved roads and off-road delights. With all the hilly areas, plateaus, pre-Alps, Dolomites, and even pleasant flatlands to choose from, every level of mountain biker will find unlimited terrain to his or her liking and ability. (By the way, the Italian word for mountain bike is...mountain bike!...and those who ride them are bikers--road cyclists are ciclisti).

The Asiago & 7 Communi Plateau alone boasts over 300 miles of forest roads and trails, including a terrific rail trail leaving from the old train station in the town of Asiago itself. The Asiago Bike Resort offers everything a biker could wish for: bike hotels, van transfer of bikes and luggage, well-marked routes, maps, GPS tracks, bike rentals, and lessons and excursions with trained guides certified by the national mountain bike school.

There are plenty of organized pedalate, raduni (rallys), and MTB gran fondos. Many of the so-called non-competitive events award prizes and are hotly contested by some of the participants, while others, like ourselves, ride with no ambition other than to have a good time.

The road to Rifugio Dal Piaz. Photo from a Parco Nazionale delle Dolomiti Bellunesi brochure

Some of the most fun-filled days I've ever spent on two wheels have been those at Coce'n Bike (coce means pumpkin in the dialect of the Friuli region), a raduno held every first Sunday of October in San Lorenzo di Sedegliano. My husband, various friends and I have joined hundreds of other bikers for this enchanting romp across farmers' fields, through orchards and vineyards, down, up, and over irrigation ditches, along single track through enchanted forests, and even through townspeople's courtyards, back yards and barns! At the refreshment stop, townswomen serve homemade pumpkin cakes and other treats. The organizers, Coce'n Bike Team, have the admirable goal of uniting a sporting event with local culture and traditions, and they succeed splendidly. Participants have included the national women's 'cross champion, seasoned mountain bikers, occasional bikers like ourselves, a 79-year-old man, moms and dads with kids, and even a guy with his little child in a baby seat! After the ride, everyone enjoys a festive lunch, awards ceremony, and raffle. You can enter the morning of the event. Click on the pumpkin logo to see photos of the race.

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In 2009 my husband and I ditched our MTB's and bought cyclocross bikes, which we enjoy riding on wonderful unpaved roads and non-technical trails, including ones normally used by mountain bikers.

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(left and below) a ride in the countryside east of Feltre, at the foot of the Dolomites

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(above, right, and below) an exhilarating ride on the Asiago Plateau, near Marcesina, a popular cross country-ski locale.

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a foot bridge across the Cordevole near Peron, in Belluno province

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