One of the most frequent questions we are asked from prospective guests is ‘how do I best train for the Tuscany cycling tour‘?
Firstly, you need to know that Tuscany is hilly. They say that in Tuscany for every 30km you ride, you will climb 400m….which makes for a very rewarding day on the bike and in our view, some of the best riding in Italy. That said, on our Tour of Tuscany, we don’t tackle any major mountains or overly long climbs. In regards to gradients, a normal climb in Tuscany may be between 3.5 to 5k long, and with an average gradient of 5.9% and as with most climbs, there is a “pinch” thrown in somewhere which could be from 10-16%, but only lasts one corner or 50m or so.
So, preparation is key and if you have prepared well and done the km’s, you’ll enjoy every minute of the week’s riding. Here we share the training approaches of 5 of our guests, outlining the key challenge they faced pre tour, and how they trained and prepared mentally for our recent Tuscany cycling tours.
Challenge: Peter was not a cyclist, had never ridden a road bike before or ridden in a group.
Approach: Peter was open to asking for advice on how best to prepare and was diligent in completing the suggested program we provided to him, which was about riding back to back days, with similar elevation to the tour, and including rest days.
Result: He rode the Tour of Tuscany extremely well, riding every km and taking on every climb with the group. Within a few weeks of returning home, Peter bought a new road bike, upgraded to clip in pedals and had booked into our Tour of Piemonte & the Fausto Coppi Gran Fondo, with its 22km climb of Colle Fauniera, for the following year….and he rode strongly for those 8 days too.
Challenge: Jen was worried she might not keep up with the group on tour, given the hills, and was worried about the size of the hills and length of the Tuscany climbs..
Approach: Jen did the training pre tour, but it was a couple of days into the tour when she realised that following the stats and data can sometimes be a greater hindrance than assistance. Afterall, if the computer says that it’s 16% and you’re doing 8k/ph, does it hurt any more or less because you know what the percentage is?
Result: Jen’s testimonial articulates it better than we can.
I’m a keen, social cyclist and prior to the trip, I had all the normal worries of not being able to keep up, or manage the kilometres each day and…..get up those Tuscan hills! But with Damians’s training program and encouragement, I turned up with my much better cycling husband Bob, nervous but ready to give it a go! What can I say, yes it was sometimes challenging but with a 32 compact on my bike I found my pace, even learning to love those 15% pinches because the coffee, or the beer and the view at the top was always worth it. Once I stopped looking at the gradient, I was totally fine, I felt a sense of achievement every day and got stronger as the week went on. If this is you, don’t think, just do, because you can! Jen
3. Clare and Jim
Challenge: Clare and Jim are committed cyclists, however training in a cold Melbourne winter in preparation for a September tour, is tough for anyone.
Approach: While still riding on the road on the weekends with a later start time, Clare and Jim added a couple of early morning, weekday indoor sessions that were targeted to climbing.
Result: Both were pleasantly surprised with how strongly they rode, smoothly rolling over every hill that was encountered. They also went on to join us for our Piemonte Cycling Tour the following year and took every hill and mountain climb in their stride.
Challenge: Martin is a around 180cm tall and weighs around 83-84kg, and doesn’t do a lot of climbing, given he lives in a very flat part of Queensland, with no hills to train on.
Approach: Aside from being a strong and determined cyclist, Martin took the approach of using what he had – the wind. Where he lives is often quite windy, so he took to riding in the windy conditions, in the big ring.
Result: Martin enjoyed a sensational week of riding on our September tour in Tuscany. He was always at the front on all of the hills, and on the occasions where there was a steeper way to the top, he took that option also.
Challenge: Patrick had only stared riding 10 months earlier to join a mate on a 50th birthday celebration on our tour in Tuscany. He had also never ridden multiple days, back to back.
Approach: Patrick did some pre tour training and climbing with a mate, however the main difference with Patrick was his mental strength to finish.
Result: Patrick rode really well and while there were some aches and a few painful spots, he rode every climb and finished every day’s riding. His mental strength was an inspiration for the group.
In summary, the 8 consecutive days of riding on our Tour of Tuscany is achievable and incredibly rewarding if you have prepared well, both physically and mentally. The week is designed to have guests ride into form, so whatever challenge you may face in the lead-up, with the right mindset and training, you’ll always walk away very satisfied with what you have experienced and achieved, relative to your level. Afterall, this is an Italian cycling holiday to be enjoyed and we’re here to help you prepare.
If you’re keen for the ride of a lifetime and a food, wine and cultural experience to match, join us on our Tuscany tour in July/August 2020.