[Publisher’s note: This article is by first-time BikePortland contributor Lucy Burningham, a local freelance writer and familiar face at bike events. Burningham writes here about the new book release of her fellow Lonely Planet travel guide author Ellee Thalheimer — who you may recognize from her past contributions to BikePortland.]
her travel guide to cycling in Italy
When Lonely Planet’s new Cycling in Italy guidebook comes out this month, Portland author Ellee Thalheimer will join the growing ranks of local writers publishing cycling titles (think Joe “Metal Cowboy” Kurmaskie, Jeff Mapes, or Shawn Granton).
Thalheimer, a freelance writer, yoga instructor, and bike touring guide, spent three months last summer pedaling her way across Italy, churning out centuries and perfecting the art of moving her fully loaded bicycle on and off trains by herself.
Riding almost every one of the 38 rides detailed in the book made for a grueling schedule, Thalheimer said, but her days were punctuated by breathtaking landscapes, fresh truffle stands, delicious pastas, and an idyllic education in Italian wines.
“On a bike, you can access far-flung areas like Friuli-Vanezia Giulia, where you soar through sun-soaked vineyards,” she wrote in the book’s intro. “All day you smell the freshly tilled earth, feel the wind cooling the sweat off your face and are lulled by the quiet rustling of the land…Later, someone might ask, ‘Do you know Friuli wines?’ And you smile, as when you remember an old lover, and you say, ‘Yes, I know them.'”
Some of her most memorable moments included ending a nighttime ride through Rome at a deserted Trevi Fountain, meeting a sexy bike activist and cave dweller in Matera, seeing flames lick her rental car’s wheel wells, and dining with posh locals in a Milan restaurant while wearing stinky bike clothes.
over mountain passes like this one.
As a Spanish speaker who has traveled extensively in Central and South America (she also contributed to the most recent edition of Lonely Planet’s Mexico book), Thalheimer picked up her Italian language skills on the road. But even without fluent Italian, she and her bicycle, Sojo, connected with locals.
“I fall in love with people wherever I go,” she said. “When you have no community but yourself and your bike, each interaction is meaningful.”
On Saturday, July 25, Pastaworks on Mississippi (4212 N. Mississippi) will host a book release party for the new Cycling in Italy from 1 – 3 p.m. Thalheimer will be on hand to talk about the book and sign autographs (books will be for sale), and Pastaworks will offer samples of selected wines and cheeses from some of the regions featured in the book.
What: Cycling in Italy Book Release Party
When: Saturday, July 25, 1-3pm
Where: Pastawarks on Mississippi (4212 N. Mississippi)