Joining us on a cycling tour in Italy is about much more than just participating in a tour, achieving your personal cycling goals or seeing the country on a bike. Our Italian cycling tours are designed to give all of our guests a balanced experience of riding, food, wine, rest and culture – yes it’s about a cycling challenge, but more than that it is about a cultural immersion and most of all, a wonderful holiday with lasting memories.
Here we share with you what a typical day looks like on tour, but more than that, we share some of our beliefs and philosophies about what an Italian cycling tour means to us. For us, it is much more than a ride. It is the bringing together of our passions and love of Italy’s diverse regions, cultures, geographies, history and cuisine. People often ask us which is our favourite tour and this is always a really difficult question to answer because each region is so different and unique, which is also a big part of what we love. Even the Italians themselves appreciate the wonderful differences of each region of Italy, respecting each other for their specialties and celebrating their uniqueness.
These regional differences are what we believe make Italy the wonderfully diverse country it is and why we specialise in Italian cycling tours only. The riding is always different across tours, mainly because of the terrain we cover, and we offer a non-riding partner program because we believe a big part of an Italian cycling holiday is to be able to share it with people you want to share it with – whether they be riders or non riders.
Another big part of what you experience each day on tour is the sharing of our passion; our own experiences, our relationships with locals who share our values in delivering you a great experience, whether it be our ride guides, accommodation hosts or food and wine partners, and our continued learnings from living in Italy for 6 months each year, with Nancy reconnecting with her roots and both of us truly immersing in life in Italy.
A typical day.
One of our main themes on tour is that our days operate on Italy time, as we fully respect and immerse in the local culture.
Across most of Italy, breakfast is served at 8.00am so we roll with how they roll. Occasionally we will request breakfast at 7.30am, but this is only in particular circumstances. Often when guests first hear that breakfast will be at 8.00, they’ll say, ‘gee what will I do with myself given I’m used to waking up at 5.30am to ride?’ Most often than not, what they find is that having some early morning time to themselves is a good time to rest, do yoga or stretch, go for a short walk, or catch up with family back home. Then by day 3 or 4, they completely relax and often sleep until 7.00 or 7.30am, enjoying the additional rest. Our philosophy is that If you create the space for rest and/or for doing something differently, it’s amazing how quickly your mind and body will adjust.
Over breakfast each day, Damian does a ride briefing and Nancy a non-riding partner briefing, and we generally both present a run-down of what’s on for the day – what activities we have on or don’t have on post ride, where we need to be, by when later in the day, and if it’s a laundry day, where to leave it and by when (we aim to do a kit wash every 2nd day on tour).
We aim to depart for our rides and non-riding activities by 9.00am.
Riding program – a typical day:
We usually aim to be rolling by 9am and ease into the ride until we are warm.
There are regularly 2 groups on the road and the difference between each group stopping for lunch and finishing at the end of the day, is never far or long. Our support van is with us all day.
With each bike tour and region having different terrain, and each day involving a different mix of distance and elevation, we develop programs that see us out on the road for 5-6 hours depending on the day, the group and how long we spend for lunch.
The pre lunch coffee stop is always welcome, but every day is different, and depending on how the group is going and where we are at any given time, will determine if this is possible.
We always have lunch somewhere along the day’s route, however depending on the length and intensity of the ride, will determine where we stop and for how long. Lunch could be anything from a bowl of the local pici pasta with ragu di carne to a panino of mortadella and marinated zucchini. Whatever it is, it always hits the spot.
We aim to place our lunch stop at a location that is not too far away from the conclusion of our ride, however it is always included for a couple of reasons; the first being that the food is just great and different in each town, and we believe there is no better way to heighten the day’s experience than with the addition of amazing flavours or a new taste, to an already great day on the bike. The second reason is that with 8 days of riding, we all need to keep up the intake of quality fuel to ensure that we have enough energy to ride each day. From a timing perspective, this needs to happen during the ride as the osteria’s and alimentari are often closed in small towns by mid afternoon.
At the conclusion of the ride, the bikes are prepped for the next day by our support team and then secured for the night.
Non riding partner program – a typical day:
Often we’ll drive a short distance to our activity for the day, whether it be to a cooking class, a truffle hunting experience, a cheese making session or to enjoy a guided walking tour of a nearby town. By 10am, we’ll be well entrenched into our activity and enjoying the educational experience or the cultural immersion that each day brings. We always share lunch together as a small group, wherever we are, and if we’re out hiking in the mountains or enjoying a cross country walk through the Tuscan hills, often we’ll pack a picnic lunch to ensure we enjoy lunch with a view. We find that a diverse mix of experiences over the course of 8 days delivers a well rounded appreciation of the region we are in, and often stretches people’s minds or bodies. After all, we can’t just let the riding group do all the hard work, so stretching ourselves on some days is always part of the program. We’ve been known to run the daily stats of km’s walked or floors climbed on our iPhone health app, enjoying the banter over aperitivo as we compare with our ride group’s stats. It’s always good fun and each day is totally different.
3.00pm arrive back.
We aim to arrive back to our villa / accommodation most days by 3.00pm. This allows us all some downtime or time to participate in a post ride activity.
Downtime usually means 3 or so hours to lay by the pool and rest with a book, share some banter by the pool post ride with a few tour buddies and a beer or two, or have a sleep and time out in your room as part of your recovery for the next day’s ride. We also find that if we are based in towns such as in San Gimignano in Tuscany or Lecce in Puglia, downtime means there can be some very good shopping done, or taking in of the local delicacies in the piazza.
Post ride activities can include such experiences as an educationally-based wine tasting where you learn all the ins and outs of Chianti and Super Tuscans on our Tuscany Tour or Barolo, Nebbiolo and Arneis on our Tour of Piemonte, as examples. Alternatively, we could be arranging a visit to ancient roman baths for an afternoon of body soaking in thermal pools and/or massages to relieve your tired muscles. All of these activities, of which there are usually 2-3 per tour, are designed to provide you with a travel experience and immersion into the history, culture and beauty of the places we stay.
We believe that practising the ‘pause’ between day and night, known as Aperitivo in Italy, is an integral part of immersing in the Italian culture and having the opportunity as a group to reflect and recount stories from the day’s ride and activities, or discuss learnings that come up (or world issues that arise!), over an Aperol Spritz or Menabrae, our favourite Italian beer. It is one of our favourite parts of the day in Italy and a ‘pause’ we share every day on all of our Italian Cycling Tours.
Some days on some tours, this hour can also be enjoyed as a stroll around the town where we will be enjoying dinner, or an opportunity to engage yourselves with locals, whether that be in a bar or a shop, or on a park bench in the piazza.
7.30pm Dinner; the food and wine immersion
Our tours’ food and wine experience is a huge part of what we believe provides you with the cultural appreciation and diverse learning of a region’s cuisine and culture, creating an even deeper travel experience. After all, yes pizza and pasta are Italian, but these two food offerings only make up 10% of the Italian cuisine, and within the ‘national food group’ called pasta, every region has its own shapes, sauces, styles and preferences, which are always linked to their land, history and culture, and which always have a story. Learning about the different pasta’s alone on tour is a wonderful experience for many of our guests, and it’s why we always try to include a cooking class as part of our non-riding partner program also.
So, the other 90% of the food and wine experience on tour is about introducing you to a wide variety of the region’s dishes, and also creating opportunities for you to experience food tastes and wines that you may not choose to try if you were travelling on your own. We place huge emphasis on the diversity of the experience and making sure that every night feels like a new adventure. The Italian cuisine, or should we say 20 regional cuisines, together with the Italian attitude and culture of sharing quality food, is a big part of what we love and want to share with all of our guests on tour.
10.00pm Buona notte (goodnight)
Somewhere around 10-10.30pm, our night draws to a close. We believe sleep is a really important part of enjoying the tour and sustaining yourself through 9 days of back to back riding, activity and immersion, so it’s about this time we call it a night.
If you’d like to join us in Italy to experience this typical day on tour, we only have 8 spots left available across our 2020 Italian Cycling Tours and our 2021 Tour Calendar is now available; also stay tuned for the release of our 2 new tours in the coming months.