The day before we left for Italy, I had a minor freak-out. Between being sick and trying to get ready for the trip, I had only ridden my bike once or twice in the 2 weeks before the trip. What if I couldn’t keep up with everyone? Or worse, what if I couldn’t complete all the rides?
Dan tried to reassure me that I could trust my training. I had trained hard all summer, working my way up to cycling 100+ miles a week. It wasn’t until we got started, though, that I really knew I could do the tour.
On the first day, we were fitted to our rental bikes and did an “easy” 12 mile loop. I felt fine during the first half, but struggled towards the end as we climbed up a huge hill back to our hotel. I told myself that the first ride back is always difficult, and that tomorrow would be easier.
And it was. The second day, my legs felt strong as we biked through the rain, though I still struggled on hills. On day three, I was passing people on the uphills. Though I was starting to get sick on the fourth day (and got stung by a bee), I felt great throughout the morning. On one of the last days, several people remarked on my progress throughout the course of the week, noting my increased strength.
I wasn’t the only one who got a cold from riding in the chilly rain on the second day. By day 5, several people were tired or starting to get sick. Since it was storming again, most of us chose to take the day off from cycling.
Regardless, over the course of 6 days, we biked just over 200 miles. Some days, we biked a loop that started and ended at the same hotel. On every other day, we biked from our current hotel to a new one, with the sag van delivering our bags to our room just before we arrived.
Each morning, we were presented with maps and written directions for the day’s ride. We were free to bike at our own pace, though a large group of us often chose to ride together. Periodically, the entire group would meet up with our sag van for water, snacks and a stretch.
Usually, we stopped in little hillside towns for our breaks and lunches.
When we weren’t riding with the group, Dan and I always stayed together. We’d chat during the flats and downhills while enjoying the scenery. And whenever I was struggling on a climb, he’d encourage me and distract me with jokes and songs.
By the last day, I was having so much fun that part of me wanted to keep riding around Italy. The other part of me knew I needed a break because my legs were getting so tight. This was probably exacerbated by the fact that after our ride, we would usually spend 2 or 3 hours walking around whatever city we were staying in… 😉
Dan and I after our last climb of the trip.
So, would I do another bike tour, despite the challenges? Most definitely. The exhilaration of riding in a new place, combined with great food and great company, makes for a fantastic vacation!
My and Dan’s bike. Please note the fact that my bike (the black one) was different from all the others because I am so short… 😉
Miss the other Italy recaps so far?