It's no coincidence that pizza and bicycle wheels are both round. Rumours infer that a quattro formaggi inspired the first mountain bike expedition into the Italian Alps, or at least fuelled it. And there is no better post-ride treat than a triple headed gelato.
Switzerland and New Zealand are chalk and cheese in many respects. The land-locked home of Swiss timing has no coastline, native bush nor wilderness. They keep sheep as a hobby and the farm animals wear bells.
I had excess baggage on the brain when planning last year's cycle show for Ground Effect in London. Flying through the USA with its more generous piece allowance was the obvious choice.
There is something irresistible about Italy and Italian culture. The language is sexy, the locals gregarious and eating well is a national sport. Neither Nikki nor I had been to the Dolomites, nor knew much about them beyond a few breathtaking pictures of pale spires and sheer faces.
The London Cycle Show had taunted Ground Effect for a few years. Flippant remarks about mountain biking Wales or even making a break for the French Alps added recreational weight to the promotional argument for exhibiting at the show.
Sou-westerly clouds scud across the pre-dawn sky as we park up at the Skippers' turn-off. It's toasty inside the car. Outside, it's shockingly cold. We face a grim weather forecast. An ark might be needed if the gods deliver the promised floods of biblical proportions.
The title to this story isn't a typo (Who is Bronwyn?) or an incomplete sentence (Meet Bronwyn's what?). Bronwyn's is a downhill track at Gap Creek in Brisbane. A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of making her acquaintance.
As reported in the last instalment of our North American odyssey (In Search of Maple Syrup...), raging forest fires had forced the 'not-so-famous five' across the border from Canada to the US.
A Canadian friend once cheerily informed me "if you're being chased by a bear, it's easy to figure out whether it's a brown or a grizzly. Just (quickly) climb a tree. A brown will follow you up the tree while a grizzly will stand at the bottom and push it over, or at least shake it hard enough so you fall out."
Tempted by undercurrents of burgeoning popularity, it was inevitable that sooner or later we'd feel the need to give Ground Effect a nudge in the USA.
Perched on the slopes of the Carrick Range behind Bannockburn in Central Otago is the old gold mining settlement of Carricktown. Its ghosts haunt the remains of their industry from a century ago... old stone huts, water races, abandoned mine shafts, mullick heaps and a labyrinth of tracks. I have a longstanding love affair with this part of the country.
We allow ourselves to be consumed by truly important things at Ground Effect - like the art of pouring the perfect espresso, pursuit of the definitive muffin and scheming the next cycling adventure. Great mountain biking can be found in most corners of this flat earth and New Zealand boasts its fair share of classics. We reasoned "wouldn't it be cool to compress some of our favourite rides into a single mega road trip?".