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Sanny, Dave and Matt tackle the Veneto Trail to see if it is possible to have an overseas adventure without sending the credit card into meltdown.

I don’t know about you but every time I read a piece about some adventure of a lifetime in some far-off land penned by a sponsored rider or paid for by a tourist board, I can’t help but wonder exactly how much it cost. It’s easy to have a brilliant time riding your bike and waxing lyrical about the amazing food, fine wine and five-star accommodation when it’s on someone else’s dime. But for most of us, it’s about as far removed from reality as me going on a date with Julia Roberts. (Although if you happen to be reading this Julia, my favourite food is pizza…) Of course, you could always go for the Yorkshire-esque approach of bivvying every night, eating food out of a tin can and treating personal hygiene as an unnecessary complication. However, nothing says misery to me more than being covered in dirt and sweat, then crawling into a sopping wet sleeping bag before enduring a seemingly endless night of half sleep and midge bites. Even in retrospect from the comfort of your favourite chair and smoking jacket beside a roaring fire with a cup of cocoa in your hand, it’s never going to be an enjoyable experience.

Beware printed menus with photos.

No, the real art of travel comes from putting together an overseas adventure that doesn’t cost a fortune nor is an exercise in the art of suffering. With this in mind, so it was that ‘Dave the Bastard’, Matt from DeAnima Cicli and I decided that with a few days to spare, we would have a bash at a self-guided foreign trip that would have only two rules:

No 1 – It had to be fun. This was meant to be a holiday with riding at the heart of it. If we weren’t enjoying ourselves, it would be pointless.

No 2 – The cost should be no more than an equivalent trip in the UK.

Being half Italian and a fluent speaker of the lingo, Matt’s suggestion of Italy was a logical one. But where to go? After an extensive, some might say exhaustive, two and a bit minutes of internet research, I had found a short video for the Veneto Trail, a 550km, 10,000+ metre bikepacking adventure in the heart of the Dolomites. A quick email to the accommodating organiser of the annual ride yielded a GPX route. A plan was coming together that Hannibal Smith would positively love!

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Editorial: Greasing Out Chipps ponders the strange language of mountain biking. Is understanding the code the difference between being a mountain biker and just riding bikes? UK Adventure: Glasgow’s Campsie Fells Sanny seeks out some overlooked trails within a stone’s throw of Glasgow. Why does he love them so much? Column: Jason Miles Turns out that, if you ride bikes, your neighbours think you know everything about all bikes. International Adventure: Bohemian Rhapsody Tom Hutton heads to the very-accessible Czech Republic to check out the trails and trees on a three-centre bike safari. International Adventure: Kyrgyzstan Rickie Cotter warms up for the Silk Road Mountain Race with a solo trip around this remote expanse of wild unknown. Beyond The Review: In The Bag Tom Hill writes about the aged Timbuk2 messenger bag that isn’t his, it’s Jenn’s. He’s just using it for her. Classic Ride: Grate Expectations In a cheese pun-filled ride around the West Country, James Vincent takes us on a tour of the trails around Cheddar. International Adventure: You Can’t Script Adventure James McKnight and Victor Lucas get in over their heads in the Pyrenees. Turns out this bikepacking lark is more complicated than they thought. Bike Test: So Long, Huckers Our big friendly giant, Barney, gets friendly with the three longest full suspension bikes in the world. Three monsters tested, from Cotic, Geometron and Pole. 25 Years of Chipps Chipps reflects on 25 years as a bike journalist. Does he know what he’s doing yet? International Adventure: Budget Bolognese Sanny heads to Italy to experience a comfortable adventure without a painful credit card bill. Pete’s Pros: Ruaridh Cunningham Pete Scullion chases downhill legend turned neo-enduro pro Ruaridh Cunningham around the trails of Innerleithen. Last Word Adam Batty discovers that finding riding buddies can be tricky, especially when they’re not being entirely honest.