We meet Marco Saligari, an expert guide of ComoLagoBike, a former professional cyclist of Italian cycling.
This season is over, it was the season of the relaunch, the restart. Tourists are back to ride on the roads of Lake Como, what do you think?
It is important for tourism on Lake Como, for tourism in general and for people in general. We know how difficult the isolation was during the Covid period. The return to normality, to sociality, to relationships not at a distance but direct is fundamental for man, for life.
During your cycling career and for the work of TV commentator you have traveled the world, what do you think of the territory of Lake Como to ride?
Its winning weapon is suggestiveness. A unique and inimitable place, and then enjoys the fact of this atmosphere that binds the territory to a dream, many foreigners see the lake as a unique experience to live at least once in their lives. I’m saying it because the tourists told that to me, and therefore enjoys this timeless suggestion. He had it, he has it, and he always will.
It’s been a few months since you started collaborating with ComoLagoBike. What impression did you get? What do you think of this organization that works for years on Lake Como?
The thing that has impressed me the most, or better amazed the most, is the quality of the customers, because sometimes this kind of activity can inevitably welcome every type of person but thanks to the experience, ComoLagoBike’s customers have always been polite, pleasant and with the desire to have fun. I’d say this is the right road.
ComoLagoBike has always believed in its experienced local guides and former professional riders specialized in accompanying tourists eager to discover the streets of Lake Como by bike. What value do you give to this thing? In your opinion it is useful for a tourist who wants to ride in our territory to be accompanied by an expert guide?
This is the added value that not everyone can have, for logistics, for relationships, for capacity. This in my opinion is crucial, because I know as a customer to ride with a person who maybe has made the Giro d’Italia, the tour de France, won professional races… it doesn’t certifies the fact of having a good guide with you but the fact that it comes from that world, with that experience, allows you to make the ride exciting for the customer, and talking about the past never hurts. Of one thing I am certain is that riding with a former professional guide gives a sense of professionalism, reliability and tranquility, because who come from that world is usually able to transfer the tranquility when you are in the street to see a view rather than stand in single file, because security at that time is very important. It’s this, the understanding that you have a person with you that whatever can happen is there, and he’s not the first person to panic, to have problems or to create ones. The tourist who arrives on Lake Como is often not prepared for the conformation of the roads and territory, you go from almost pedestrian roads to challenging climbs as can be the Ghisallo, sometimes winding downhill, to the shore of the lake where you sit and take a nice selfie and you take a few minutes to enjoy the scenery. You have to be able to combine all this. It is obvious that on this the former cyclist has no added value because it’s the person who makes the difference, but the former cyclist has the advantage on everything else, cycling speaking, often along the paths while cycling on the ramps of the climb of Ghisallo, of the Muro di Sormano, on the Colma di Sormano. I talked about my anecdotes, my Ghisallo, my Wall of Sormano, my Colma as a pro rider, and that is unique, a guide who has never been a rider maybe knows the climb better, but he can not tell, can not give the real suggestion proved by the former professional racer.
As you know, ComoLagobike can offer its customers any type of bicycle, from road bikes to mtb, or e-bikes. What do you think about the advent of GRAVEL bikes, since you are also back from a great experience with your son in America where you used exclusively GRAVEL bikes?
The GRAVEL bike has been around for years, many people only discover it now, now it is experiencing the best moment. I believe that the GRAVEL in our area is not perfectly comfortable because other bikes are more functional, which is different in other areas of Italy. That said, it is a bicycle that gives a lot and works for that reason, the sense of travel, in fact BACKPACKING is almost always made with bicycles GRAVEL, because it was born with that purpose, with that end. Successful but in our area are fine the other types of bicycles you have listed.
Americans have exported to Italy, Europe and the world the MTB, do you think that the GRAVEL bike can have the same success?
Yes, also the GRAVEL will get the same success, I can guarantee that it breaks through, it is clear that in certain territories is more comfortable, because if we talk about dirt roads the gravel makes the most, more than mtb and of course more than racing bike, it is very comfortable, it is not aggressive even in its geometries, its position and driving. As the racing bike is more race than the mtb, the gravel is the right balance for certain roads.
How much can the GRAVEL bike adapt to our territory, our roads?
You can use it as you can use a road bike a mtb or an e-bike. Some bikes may be more suitable than others depending on the area: in our territory the Gravel is not necessary because it is a type of bicycle that lends itself perfectly even in its geometries for dirt roads, which we do not abound, if we talk about off-road then here we fit much more and is much more comfortable mtb just for geographical compliance.
So which bike would you recommend to the tourist who arrives on the Como Lake and wants to make some nice rides?
I believe that to enjoy the lake and the surrounding areas the best choice is the e-bike city, because if we consider customers used to cycling the best choice is the road bike, for all others maybe less practical I would recommend an assisted bike not exasperated, a city bike, a front, a bike certainly not exasperated is the best thing.
What more can a GRAVEL bike offer than a road bike or MTB?
The GRAVEL bike is not so much the bicycle itself that is particularly performing on uneven terrain and dirt, but because it is basically more comfortable, less extreme than the racing bicycle, starting from the wheels that are not as narrow as those of racing bikes and not even as wide as those of mtb, are very comfortable and safe, the geometry of the frame totally different from the racing bike and much less the mtb. But the fundamental thing about GRAVEL bikes is that you are not on the road and therefore you have no outside interference from the traffic light point of view, stop, round, so it immediately triggers in the head of those who are using the GRAVEL feeling of FREEDOM, I found out myself, it’s incredible, but it’s true. You are immediately catapulted into another dimension with the GRAVEL, which is not the case with the racing bike and only partly with the mtb, but here you have the advantage that many routes are not as hard as with the mtb, it is fascinating.
Now it’s time to recharge your batteries, we expect another wonderful season. What do you feel to say to the tourists who will come to ride on Lake Como?
Come in great numbers because Como Lake never disappoint!!