In the process of booking in to our tours, we are asked many questions by guests wanting to understand the ins and outs of what they will experience on tour…and rightly so. Each time we are asked a question about price and what’s included, it challenges us to think about what we are delivering, and just how good the offering is. It also pushes us to reflect on why a guided tour vs doing it yourself, and what we can continuously improve on our tours to ensure our commitment to making our Italian guided cycling tours the best experience they can possibly be, is always lived.
We also often reflect often on the fact that the first time we went to Italy and Damian wanted to climb Stelvio as part of the Giro d’Italia, we joined a guided tour. Even though we are the type of people who are very capable of ‘doing it ourselves’ (clearly!), there is something about experiencing a place on a bike with people who know it, and also beyond the bike, who help you to immerse into a place that provides a richer experience than what you would ever discover on your own.
From our own experience of going on tour and also now hosting our own cycling tours, we’ve come up with our top 5 reasons on why we think a guided cycling tour of Italy is a fantastic way to travel.
1. The best ride routes
Riding well selected routes is the make and break of a cycling holiday. This is even more important in places like Tuscany, Puglia and Piemonte where there are a lot of roads, and not just the single climbs or loops of the Alps and Dolomites. It’s also not just about knowing the roads, but about knowing where the challenging pinches, the beautiful descents and iconic vistas are, and understanding what riders are looking for; ie. how much or how little elevation, how their legs are feeling on any particular day and what level of support may be required, and where the perfect stops are…because mingling with locals and enjoying local traditions mid ride, is all part of the experience.
2. Safety on the roads
Riding is definitely safer in numbers. Even in a country like Italy where cyclists are well respected and the levels of aggression we see in Australia between cyclists and drivers is just not part of everyday life, riding can still be dangerous. You need to know the roads, know when you can ride abreast and when you need to ride in single file, and also be prepared for some fairly average tarmac in some areas.
3. All done for you
Many of our guests tell us that being able to get away and hardly have to think about anything for 9 days except riding, eating and drinking, is what it really means to experience a cycling holiday. Whether travelling alone, with a friend or a partner, there’s always so much that goes into organising a holiday, but to then have to organise and think about all that goes with riding each day also, while making sure you’re making the most of every day, can be a lot of work.
4. An immersion
For us, immersion is about allowing yourself to truly ‘be’ in a place. We find that to do this, you need to be relaxed and trusting of the experiences, people and places you encounter. This is often difficult if you don’t understand the language, are not sure if you can trust that a restaurant tip is a ‘true tip of the best place to go’ or ‘somebody’s mate’s restaurant’ or if you just ‘floating above’ a place rather than really getting underneath its skin and experiencing the local people and culture. After all, this is really why we travel – to truly experience different places, people and cultures.
5. A quality experience
Last, but not least, the reason we will always advocate for guided cycling tours is the quality of the experience. On a guided tour, we are able to tap into the knowledge, relationships and insights of the many people we bring together to make our tours happen. These relationships are deep and trusting and offer us and our guests a quality experience. We find that when we bring together our knowhow of designing and running tours with the relationships that we have developed over time in the key regions of Italy in which we focus, the quality of the experience is greater than the sum of any of its parts. It’s a magical mix that we love sharing with our guests on every tour.