How to Prepare for One of Our Cycling Tours: Part 1

People cycling through tuscany on holidays

Distance & Elevation – breaking down the numbers

One of the things we often hear from people wanting to do an Italian Cycling Tour is “the distances sound do-able but the climbing worries me.”

It’s true that riding in Italy is challenging. However, as we say to guests who ask, don’t worry about the numbers. The average and total k’s and elevation just need to be put into context.

So here we’ve provided you with a breakdown of what the numbers really mean behind a couple of our Italian cycling tours, namely Tuscany and Piemonte, to help you put the numbers in context and most importantly, to realise that, while the climbing is challenging, it’s very do-able and totally enjoyable.

Cyclist at the side of the road

Tour of Tuscany

The below table is the ride distance and elevation for our Tour of Tuscany.

a graph illustrating elevation and distance
They say that in Tuscany for every 30km you ride, you will climb 400m.  That said, on our Tour of Tuscany, we don’t tackle any major mountains or overly long climbs.Yes Tuscany is hilly. However to put all this into context, think about the distance and elevation of your weekday and weekend rides. How do they compare?  Often we find that when people do this comparison, they realise it is not a whole lot different to what they are used to riding.

Two people riding up a hill in Tuscany

A normal climb in Tuscany may be between 3.5 to 5km long, and with an average gradient of 5.9%.

Of course there are little pinches along the way that will flick into double digits but these are quite short and you go at your own pace.  With no pressure, you’ll find you roll over them.

Both Days 4 & 6 in the above table are a little longer and have more elevation because they are all day rides and on both days we have created the ride routes to pass through some of the most mazing landscape in Tuscany, through the Val d’Orcia and we traverse between our villa and two very beautiful hilltop towns that you just must ride through, being Montalcino and Montepulciano.

It’s challenging and rewarding, but doesn’t break you and in our view, this type of riding is not only interesting but makes for a very rewarding day on the bike. Tuscany has without a doubt some of the best riding in Italy.

Piemonte & the Fausto Coppi Gran Fondo

The below table is the ride distance and elevation for our La Fausto Coppi Gran Fondo & Piemonte Tour.

A graph illustrating distance and elevation

The Le Langhe wine region in Piemonte is also pretty lumpy, however it’s more continual rolling hills that weave their way all over the region. A typical climb here is between 4 – 6km, but with only a 3.2% average gradient.  There are also some longer winding ascents that may go as long as 15km but these also only have an average gradient of 3.2%. It’s the ups and downs and the twists and turns that make for a very satisfying and interesting ride in Le Langhe; waiting to see just what is unveiled around the next corner.

Three cyclists looking at the vineyards in Piedmont

What skews the numbers on this tour and seriously ups the average is the penultimate ride of the tour, La Fausto Coppi Gran Fondo. Take the Medio Fondo for example at 111km and 2410m, this really just represents a double dose of Day 5.  However this shouldn’t be seen as daunting as over 1500m of the 2400m of climbing is done when you ascend Colle Fauniera. Fauniera has an average gradient of 7.6% over its 22km’s, and is a great challenge and really manageable. You just need to find your own rhythm, at your own pace and spin your way to the top…..and you have the added advantage of the absolutley amazing scenery as a distraction.

Colle Fauniera in Autumn

This is a region that we can’t say enough good things about, it is truly a cyclist’s playground.

We look forward to seeing you on board one of our Italian Cycling Tours soon and if you have any questions, reach out to us anytime via livechat.

We’re here to make your Italian cycling holiday an experience of a lifetime.

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