Just the right level of challenge

What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

There were some really exceptional routes via bridges across water, and paths alongside the sea; and some very enjoyable downhill rides after tough climbs in Croatia and Slovenia. A restaurant called Valentino's in Portoguaro who served us, their sole customers, superb food very late on a Monday night, when we feared we'd go to bed hungry because we'd arrived so late!

What did you think of your group leader?

This was a self guided holiday, so the cycle route guides were effectively our leader! These instructions were mostly very good with maybe two or three lapses. Several groups seemed to miss the Grado turn-off because of ambiguous instructions - and oddly this detour alone was not described in full. We got lost leaving Aquileia, heading at right angles to the correct route despite our best efforts! And a couple of times the instructions lapsed into different languages which provided an extra challenge. We felt the quality of the instructions was a little inconsistent, and less detailed as we left Italy There also seemed to be less arrow-stickers posted. The baggage transfer between hotels was seamless, with no problems at all.

Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

A cycle mirror mounted on your left handlebar will help on the very skinny fast Italian roads where one has to cycle right in the gutter, with cars passing very close. I bought one over there but it wasn't as good as my small tilt-able mirror at home. Padded cycle shorts are essential and I was glad I took an extra padded cycle cover too. A simple compass might have helped when we felt we were very offtrack! We managed with the maps provided but they are not that detailed, and often don't reference the same road names as the instructions do, so if you are concerned about your routefinding abilities, it may be worth bringing your own detailed maps, or downloading a GPS app. I was very bitten badly the first few days by mosquitoes, never usually a problem for me. I was using Jungle formula for Northern Europe, strength 3 until I switched to my friend's stronger version with 50% DEET. It didn't seem to be possible to get very strong repellent in Italy, so recommend you take a killer formula with you. Lastly, we didn't do this but it might have been sensible to check out the first few steps of the next day's route and just get oriented re the right direction to set off, before putting the bikes to bed for the night.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

We added two days in Venice at the start of our trip, which I'd recommend.