If you’re heading off on your first Italian cycling tour, we’ve compiled our top 6 things for you to consider to ensure your tour is the trip of a lifetime.
1. Learn To Love The Hills
For the most part, Italy is a hilly country and in the north, it’s a mountainous country.
We believe that the hills and the mountains are where the fun and challenge lie. It’s also where the adventure comes into riding; with the many twists and turns, stretches of climbing that test the legs and mind, and then the thrilling descents. The reward is in the challenge, wherever that may be for you, so make sure you choose a tour destination that fits with the level of ride difficulty you’re prepared to take on.
Preparation is the key. Before you depart, you need to have put in the extra k’s so that the hills are your friends. Also, if it helps with your mental preparation, always remember that at the end of every hill is an amazing descent…..unless of course you’re staying at the top of the hill, where then it’s a great start to tomorrow’s ride.
2. Take Out Your Insurance When You Book
As soon as you book your Italian cycling holiday, we recommend you take out your travel insurance.
It is no more expensive to take it out early and if you select the right policy, it will cover your flight and tour cancellation costs, should you not be able go on tour for some reason. For this type of cover, there is only a short window after booking in to your tour in which you can take out the policy so, act fast.
Even if you’re careful, accidents can happen. We had one guest nearly not make it on tour this year after clipping a wheel, crashing and cracking his pelvis. He didn’t have insurance so decided to come along anyway and thankfully, he recovered enough to enjoy the riding and the tour, however it could have turned out differently.
3. Decide Whether You’ll Hire a Bike or Take Your Own
When it comes to hiring a bike vs taking your own, we find there is usually a 50/50 split with our guests, with the deciding factor being how much travelling they’ll be doing pre and post tour.
If you are planning to hire a bike, our recommendation is to have a professional bike fit/assessment of your position on the bike. This results in you accurately knowing your own set up and having a pdf master instruction for the bike hire company to follow in correctly setting up your bike for you. This is a small cost which ensures that when you arrive, you are ready to roll without the need for continual adjustments.
If you decide to take your own bike on your tour, depending on the type of bike bag or case you take, we would recommend that you:
– Remove your rear derailleur
– If you have disc brakes, remove the discs off both wheels, but also know how to put them back on
– Still on disc brakes, know how to put the wheels back on and how to adjust the pad pressure/position
The last thing you would want for 8 days of riding in the hills or mountains of Italy, is to have a slightly bent disc that squeaks every rotation.
4. Arrive With Enough Time To Spare
Our recommendation to guests is to arrive into Italy at least 3 days before your tour starts. The reason for this is twofold:
1. If you are bringing your own bike with you and it goes missing, and then you are on tour the next day, there is a chance that you will miss the first few days of riding, or at the very least have the added stress and cost of hiring a bike on short notice.
2. The second reason is jet lag. Most people say they don’t suffer jet lag as much when traveling to Europe vs travelling home, however a couple of good nights’ sleep to get your body used to the new time zone before the tour and riding starts, is advisable. This means you’ll enjoy the riding so much more and also the food and wine experience, as you won’t get to 8pm and prefer to curl up under the table, but rather enjoy your amazing Italian pasta.
5. Be Open And Ready To Immerse
It is surprising how much your openness and willingness to ‘go with the flow’ positively impacts your experience on tour.
Quite simply, things aren’t as they are at home as we’re in a different country. So it’s important to leave our expectations at home as after all, that’s why we’re travelling; to experience new and different.
Our philosophy is to allow some ‘uncertainty’ in the tour and to allow things to flow a little, as that is where the magic is….the adventure.
If you turn up with ‘blinkers’ and expectations of how things ‘should’ be, you’ll miss out on so many experiences along the way. Instead, be open and ready to immerse, as you’ll surely be amazed by what you experience.
6. Learn The Lingo
When in Italy, knowing a little bit of the language, does goes a long way. The locals embrace it when you at least try to say hello and order in Italian.
We personally love these little interactions with the locals, as it also adds more depth and another dimension to your trip.
Here are a few of our favourite phrases that can be popped into different situations.
Ciao – hello and goodbye to someone you know, such as our villa hosts
Salve – hello and goodbye to someone you don’t know, such as a shop assistant
Buon giorno – hello, good day, a greeting on seeing someone (usually in the morning or day)
Arrivederci – goodbye to someone you don’t know, it’s the more formal ‘goodbye’
Buona sera – good afternoon, can be said anytime after 2 or 3pm
Buona notte – goodnight
Tutto Bene – all good
Posse avere – May I have
Per favore – please
Grazie – Thank you
Prego – You’re welcome
When you’re laying by the pool post ride and you want to say ‘I’m very happy’, just say – Sono molto contento!
….and our all time favourite on tour….
Perche no? – Why not?
Damian to Riccardo: Would you like another beer?
Riccardo to Damian – Perche no?
If you’re interested in finding out more about how to make the most of and prepare well for our Italian Cycling Tours, contact us anytime.