When you are travelling to Italy for a cycling holiday with us, we believe there are a few things to prepare and do before you depart, and also a few things to consider adopting when you arrive in bella Italia and join us on tour.
1. Arrive at least 3-4 days before the tour.
Acclimatising to being in Italy is an important part of the pre-tour preparation for all of our guests and so giving yourself ample time before the start of a tour is recommended. Whether it’s adjusting to time differences, climate differences and/or just being in a foreign country, we believe arriving at least 3-4 days prior to the tour is important so that you can adjust to your new time zone and restore after your long journey.
If your journey is particularly long or the time difference between your home and Rome quite disparate, ie; you’re coming from Australia or New Zealand, or the west coast of the USA, there are a few apps and free calculators that you can use to help you ‘beat’ jet lag by getting you on to your new time zone as soon as possible, and for suggesting times when you should have exposure to light and dark.
The other benefit of having a few days buffer before the tour starts is that you have an allowance of time to accommodate for the possibility of missing luggage or even worse, a bike that needs repair due to a broken rear derailleur……it happens more than you think.
2. Make the tour the first part of your trip.
Making your Italian cycling tour the first part of your trip, ensures that you won’t lose any of the form and fitness you have gained from the months of training leading up to your trip. We have had guests join us on tour after 3 or 4 weeks of travel and with not a bike in sight, and it’s often frustrating for them as they have lost fitness, making all the lead up training a lot less impactful.
Leaving most of your travel until after the tour also makes these weeks feel like a real reward for all the effort you’ve put into your preparation and also the challenge you’ve overcome with your multiple days of riding on tour.
3. Do the training.
Doing the training may seem obvious, however there are times when we see guests arrive on tour who haven’t done as much training and preparation as they would have liked due to a heavy work schedule or poor weather prior to departure, and they suffer as a result – or at least, don’t enjoy the riding experience as much as they would have liked to.
Whichever way you look at it, there is a point at which a rider will need to put in the k’s and the hard work, and be fatigued. This can either be at home in a gradual lead up training program before the tour, or it can be on tour. We have seen guests do both and while those in the latter group enjoy the tour, they are more fatigued after each ride and certainly not as sprightly for the post ride activities – and in some cases, they need to have a rest day if they have pushed really hard the day before. Now this is all OK because everyone has different circumstances and different goals, and so taking a rest day or two, may not dampen the experience – mainly because the upside of taking a rest day on our Italian bike tours is that you have the option to join the non-riding partner program hosted by founder, Nancy De Losa. This program includes daily activities which immerse non riders in the culture, history and nature of the region we are in, and is an active program involving hikes and walks, as well as city tours and food experiences. Most riders who take a day off the bike love the non-riding partner experience.
However, if your goal is to enjoy all of the daily rides on tour without too much pain and fatigue, and just enjoy the cultural immersion post ride, then pre-tour training is definitely worth investing in.
4. Be open and immerse
When you leave home to travel overseas, it’s best to leave with an attitude of openness and acceptance that where you are going is different from home – and that’s a wonderful thing. Actually, isn’t that the whole point anyway?
What we mean is that by embracing the differences of where you are and being curious of the culture you’re surrounded by, will only deepen your experience. We believe that comparing or trying to find similarities between where you are and where you come from or have been before, stops you from appreciating the full beauty, social fabric and cultural diversity of wherever you find yourself. At the end of the day, it’s not better or worse, it’s just different.
Be open to the differences on your Italian cycling tour with us and the unique and blissful experiences that come from being fully immersed, will follow.
5. Less is Actually More
For us, travel is about doing less, so we can take the time to feel more connected to where we are and appreciate the simple things that bring us joy.
For many of us, our normal day to day lives are busy and action packed, and filled with the need to be continually productive and to complete our never ending ‘to do’ lists.
Travel, on the other hand, is a time to pause. A time to do the opposite to how your usual week unfolds and feels. It’s not about trying to fit every ‘must do and see’ into your day, but rather a time to do less. If you’re staying in a place, really live and breathe that place. Don’t be tempted by too many day trips away from where you are staying. Stay local and feel like a local.
Many of our guests ask us for pre and post tour travel recommendations and our mantra is always ‘less is more’. Visit fewer places, take the time to linger and wander in the places where you are. While there is always a list of ‘the best things to see’, including enjoying a gallery or a particularly stunning church (yes, there are a few in Italy), be sure to break this up with doing the things that the locals do; enjoy a stand up coffee and cornetto at the local bar as you absorb the morning conversation and culture of Italy, take time out to just sit in the piazza to ponder its history and beauty and take in daily life, walk a little further to find bars and osteria’s for aperitivo and dinner where you’ll be surrounded more by locals than tourists. As much as possible, take the time to venture slowly so that you really connect with where you are.
Ultimately, we believe that it’s always better to see one place well, rather than scratch the surface of three or four places.
If you’re considering joining us on a cycling tour in Italy and would like our tips on pre and post tour travel, please contact us anytime.