View Full Version : Ciclismo Classico experiences?

02-09-2007, 07:39 AM
Hi all,

I'm signed up for a bike trip in Tuscany with Ciclismo Classico in May. I'm wondering whether anyone here has traveled with them? I feel confident that they're a good outfit, but I'm interested in hearing any personal experiences/tips.


02-09-2007, 07:52 AM
wow! that's really cool! you'll have to tell us about it :cool:

02-09-2007, 08:06 AM
Oh, I will Mimi...I am soooo looking forward to it- a week in Florence and a week riding around the countryside of Tuscany. Now I just gotta figure out whether I'm going to ride a hybrid, or one of their custom Bianchi road bike. Of course, that would necessitate me learning how to ride a road bike! They provide decent hybrids, sounds like, so maybe I'll stick with what I know.

My biggest obstacle is that I'm leaving my dog for two weeks. The longest since I've had him (7 years) that I've ever been away from him before is 3 nights. We are a bit overly bonded, so I'm freaking out. I think this bike trip is the only thing that could make me leave him for that long.

02-09-2007, 08:23 AM
what are you going to do with your dog?
(I"m sure you have a plan, right?)
my trips to Italy are also filled with anxiety because i am leaving my cats behind in the house
where we live with my adult son who loves them. (So i understand)

02-09-2007, 08:53 AM
My brother and his wife have done several (3 maybe?) tours with Ciclismo Classico and really enjoyed them. A co-worker also did one and loved it. I don't think my SIL lurks here, so can't give you a firsthand account of touring with CC. Another cyclist on their trip last year wrote a journal on crazyguy at http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/bootofitaly2006 - it wasn't Tuscany but maybe will give you an idea of CC tours.

02-09-2007, 09:01 AM
I second Mimi's request for a report when you get back. They are on my list. I have heard one review from someone I travelled with. While they loved the group....I....uh....errr...didn't like the woman who gave the review. I know, I know, that would be a reason to discount someone's *negative* review, not a positive review.

They are also associated (as in share mailing lists and share clientelle) with a domestic group we travel with (Timberline). So, that gives them another plus in our book.

That said, I'm travelling to Italy with a smaller company in May, Cycle Italia (http://www.cycleitalia.com/). Outside of some contact with the people, their web site and their newsletter, I know nothing about them. But, so far everything has been positive and I'm looking forward to it. We'll be a bit east of you (Umbria and Marche).

As for the pets...yeah, that is the hard part. I got lucky and found a fantastic pet sitter. She is so good with my cranky, one-person cats that when I get back I swear they wish I'd go away for another week. I no longer feel guilty knowing they are in good hands (oh, I hope she never quits the business!)

02-09-2007, 10:35 AM
We went to Tuscany last September with Trek Travel. It was wonderful and easily the trip of a lifetime. Spent most of the time in the countyside, and it was beautiful. You will LOVE it! Don't worry about the pets, they will likely enjoy a little vacation as well.

Here is part of the review my DH did for bikeforums:

We spent the second week in September in Southern Tuscany. We flew in to Florence, Italy for our tour with Trek Travel. Of the 400+ pics we took I selected a few that might be of more interest to bikers and give a general feel of the region. Tuscany is AWESOME, and Trek Travel does a fantastic job, we enjoyed every minute of the tour, and would happily go again.

We rode Trek Madones, although a few in the tour group opted for hybrids. The bikes were in excellent condition and well tuned and ready to roll, they had about 100 stems to accommodate fitting each bike. Rides varied from about 15 miles on the first and last days to a long of about 45 miles. Mileage could vary depending on what the rider wanted to do. Some tours include more mileage, and extra loops were always available. The most I climbed was about 3,200 ft; most days were around 2,000 ft. We would basically ride from resort to resort, although a couple nights we were able to stay in the same place. Hotels and resorts were outstanding. In the morning you would simply leave you stuff out by your door after breakfast, ride your bike to lunch, and when you arrived at the next hotel it was in your new room.

The trip also consisted of various wine tasting, cheese tasting, pizza and pasta making, as well as a couple 4 –course dinners. The Italians know how to eat. Our guides prepared a couple lunch picnics that were outstanding. Trek Travel really takes care of all the details, we were able to relax enjoy the biking and sites, and just have a great time.

Italy is awesome. We arrived in Florence and it’s a busy city, with scooters, bikes, mini-cars, and people everywhere. There are many beautiful sites to see, we spent most of our time (before and after the tour) just walking around. I did find one nice bike shop that specializes in offering tours themselves. The shop had lots of Bianchis and plenty of Campagnolo stuff and well as Italian clothing. We also took the train to Pisa, a very nice city and of course saw the leaning tower.

What I liked the best were the people, very weathered and friendly, most everyone returned a greeting when spoken to. One pic is my wife passing a local rider. They use bikes everywhere – it’s the culture. Didn’t really see any fat Italians, people enjoy wine and food, but also work very hard. The one pic shows a Lamborghini tractor. The grape harvest was just beginning while we were there.

The landscape is spectacular, it had been very dry (should be a good year for wine). Shades of brown, tan, were awesome. Speaking of wine, they take it very serious. I’m not much of a wine drinker, but appreciate the passion for it. The small villages on the hills were wonderful. The one thing you realize is everything is so old. The land has been used for centuries and all the nutrients drawn out, they use what they can and make to with what they have. It was amazing how many linens, etc… were made in Italy, no large mass market importer selling cheap stuff. Italians produce all sorts of goods, most seem to be of high quality. Hard to really describe being there; it’s beautiful and inviting, everything you think it would be.

Biking along the quiet county roads was a real pleasure, drivers seemed to look for bikes, and I felt safer on the roads (no shoulders) in Italy then back home. Not once did I get yelled out or have a near death experience. Often passing a local on bike, or another tourist, it’s a wonderful place to bike.

I would love to go again, we enjoyed the tour and group much more then we thought we would have. Also taking care of many of the day decisions made it that much easier to take in the people and landscape. We were there 10 days, biked 6, and spent about 3 traveling, a long time to be away from our young children, but it was a wonder place to spend our 10th anniversary.


The Arno River in Florence...


Leaning Tower...


Bikes everywhere in Florence...











02-09-2007, 10:52 AM
thanks for the great photos and travelogue!

02-09-2007, 12:10 PM
Thank you. Just looking at the pics again makes me really want to go back. With the single digit temps and snow right now, mid-80's in Italy would be perfect...

02-09-2007, 10:39 PM
Thanks, guys! Beautiful photos! Yeah, I think it will be a great trip, and right at my level. It's 5 days of cycling, a total of about 250 miles, sort of 30-50 miles a day of riding. I'm going with my oldest friend, we've known each other since we were 2 (we're now 45), and we live on opposite coasts and rarely get to spend time together, so it should be quite an experience.

Yep, Mimi- I have a plan for my dog. His walker (who walks him every day, and knows him very well, and has housesat for me in the past) will stay here with him. But last time I was gone on a biz trip for three nights, he apparently spent most of his time lying by the front door waiting for me to come home. I really hope he doesn't do that for 14 days....I'm afraid he'll lose his little mind.

02-10-2007, 09:13 AM
wow, that all looks wonderful. Ace, you're gonna have a blast. :cool:

02-10-2007, 02:18 PM
Hey Thorn,

Definitely report on your experience with Cycle Italia- it looks like a cool outfit. We will be there around the same time- I'll be in Tuscany from 5/23-6/4!

There are so many good companies running those tours, it's hard to choose. I think I chose CC mostly because they seem to strike a good balance between being serious about cycling (they have daily clinics and coaching during the trip, and encourage you not to use the SAG, although you can if you want), while still having some easier tours (like the one we're doing). My travelling companion, while in very good physical shape, is not a cyclist, and though she swears she's going to get in some serious bike time before the trip, time will tell. I keep telling her her butt is going to hurt so much if she doesn't get used to the saddle beforehand. Plus she wants to use a road bike (CC has hybrids, too), and she hasn't ridden one since we were about 18. Anyway, she's an experiential learner, I guess.

04-14-2007, 04:48 PM

It sounds like you are doing Assaggio Tuscana, yes? DH and I are going late June - early July. I can't wait. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let us know how it goes! I'll probably have a million and one questions for you when you get back! :)

04-17-2007, 05:05 PM
That is funny, michelem! Yes, I'm doing the Assaggio Toscana trip starting 5/27!!

Are you going to spend time in Florence before/after your trip? We're doing 4 days there before the bike trip, then 4 days after.

I will definitely report back, and if I don't, feel free to pm me to ask any questions.

You must like the heat to go in late June. It's probably be really hot when my trip is too- they're having an insanely hot spring (10 degrees above average).

04-17-2007, 10:45 PM
DH was born and raised in Phoenix, AZ and we lived in the Phoenix area for quite a few years before moving to N. Cal. about a year-and-a-half ago. So, we're used to heat. I'd rather be hot than cold, that's for sure! Also, it's the only time that works for us to go. DH works for the school district and doesn't get out 'til mid-June and goes back mid-August. The trip just happens to fall during the week of my b-day as well! :)

I can only take one week off work (luckily, I get to sneak in the 4th of July holiday and get an extra day that way). We'll fly out of SFO on Friday morning and arrive in Florence on Saturday afternoon. We're just going to straight to the first hotel so we'll be there for the start of the trip. I'm sure we'll be tired from the travel and we don't want to have to worry about getting there on time the next day. We'll fly out right after the tour ends the following Friday and arrive back home the same day (weird how that works with the time difference). That will give me Saturday and Sunday to get ready to go back to work.

That sounds wonderful that you get to be there longer! I am so excited, I can hardly contain myself! I am driving DH crazy with all the plans. He's only gotten himself on the bike twice so far this year. I am worried that he won't be conditioned when tour time comes, but he says it won't be a problem. We'll see! I've definitely caught the cycling bug!

I really look forward to hearing all the details when you get back. Hope you're having as much fun planning as I am! :)

04-18-2007, 01:22 PM
Just found this thread. I'm going on my 6th CC trip in May. I am loyal to them for several reasons. Their focus on balancing cultural experiences and cycling is unwavering. The level of service from initial phone call to last drop-off has been consistently high level. The guides do a wonderful job of reminding people they are on vacation...relax, enjoy the experience, take in the ambience. The company has built strong local relationships (from the hotels chosen to the restaurants)...I don't like to feel like a tourist or that I am being treated like one, either. I think it's important to note, too, that as a single woman traveler, I wanted to find a company that I felt comfortable traveling solo with while avoiding the "singles" group dynamic.

I have been on 2 Tuscany trips, one Piedmonte, one in Puglia, and am going on the 2nd of 2 Bike Across Italy trips (the first was in the north, this one is in the south). I hope your experiences are as positive as mine have been, and enjoy!

04-18-2007, 01:39 PM
Yay! Great to get that feedback from you, abc. I'm so glad I picked CC...I just had a good feeling about them.

Any advice of stuff to bring, how to prepare, etc.? The trip I'm going on is pretty short, 5 days of cycling, "advanced beginner," I'm having trouble figuring out what to bring, because I'm spending a week in Florence, too, so I have to bring all the bike stuff, then all my clothes for the rest of the trip. I hate bringing too much stuff/huge luggage, but I almost feel like I have to.

04-18-2007, 02:46 PM
Hi ace.
I did Giro de Toscana early May last year, it's a little cooler in the mornings than you'd think, so you might want to consider arm warmers/tights, or a long sleeve cycling jacket/fleece depending on your tolerance level. I target 1pair of shorts and shirt for every 2 days of cycling, and also a rain jacket, bike shoes, and helmet. Evenings are really casual, and that time of year possibly chilly, and bring comfy walking shoes (for those hill towns and uneven stones in the piazza!).

Not knowing how experienced a cyclist you are, I can share that I am not very, and since spring comes late where I am I target being able to do 40mi every day or so on a stationary bike (it's better than nothing!) for several weeks before the trip, and try to get on the road for as much as possible to re-learn how to shift and cycle in the real world. That area is rolling hills, so once you get the hang of them it's really quite fun!

04-18-2007, 03:59 PM
Thanks so much. I love rollers, so I hope there are lots of them. Not so fond of hills, though. Which has been your favorite trip so far and why?

Our trip doesn't start until 5/27, so I think it'll be pretty warm by then (not too warm I hope!). I am still recuperating from a knee injury, so I'm trying to ride as much as I can w/o reinjuring myself, and hopefully I'll be able to ride the whole trip.

Did you really mean you rode 40 miles a day on a stationary bike for several weeks?? I would never have the discipline to do that! You're made of sterner stuff than I am!

04-18-2007, 09:21 PM

I spoke with a couple who have been on several CC trips and they said to do carryon only if possible. They said that is the biggest thing they've learned to do differently. Not sure what airlines you are flying, but we are using Lufthansa for the international part of our flight and their carry-on limit is one at 17.5 pounds per person, with dimensions of 22x21x6 inches, plus one small handbag/purse. I purchased an MEI Voyageur for each of us and it comes to 22x14x9 inches, which is the US limit for a carryon, so I hope they are acceptable by Lufthansa! I'm mainly worried about the weight limit though, especially with having to pack the helmet, bike shoes, and clipless pedals. The other thing that concerns me is the liquid/gel limits. However, I was reminded that we are not going to a third-world country and we can purchase sunscreen, etc. when we get there.

Clothing-wise, I plan to bring 1 SPF 50 jersey and 2 (one black and one white) lightweight long-sleeve SPF 50 undergarment shirt (REI MTS long-sleeve) to wear underneath the short-sleeve jersey they provide us with on arrival and to wear in the evenings (alternate them). Two pair bike shorts and two pair SPF 50 tights (if I can ever find some). Two pair cycling socks. One pair cycling gloves. Two sports bras. Two pair underwear. One lightweight, waterproof cycling jacket w/zip-off sleeves. One pair walking shoes (dansko professional clogs - very comfy!). For evenings - One pair black pants (something wrinkle-free - haven't found something suitable yet). One lightweight sweater/wrap. Contact lenses and solution. Prescription glasses. Prescription sunglasses. Non-prescription sunglasses. Camera. Baking soda for brushing teeth and washing hair. Small amount of leave-in conditioner. Toothbrush. Floss. Maybe a very small amount of makeup, like a colored spf lip balm and some cake eyeliner and mascara. Disposable facial scrub pads. Woolite & small clothesline. Money pouch. Electrical converter. Deodorant. As much sunscreen as I can fit in the leftover room for liquids/gels.

I've probably forgotten something! As I'm always freezing on airplanes anyway, I'll probably be wearing one pair of cycling tights, pants, socks, underwear, sports bra, long-sleeve undergarment top, sweater/wrap and/or cycling jacket, and clogs. I'm debating wearing my helmet on the plane so I don't have to pack it -- ha ha -- just kidding! :p

I've really been obsessing over all of this. This is our first spendy vacation we've ever done and the first time we've ever been out of the country. We're used to going camping for our vacations!

ABC, how much leisure time is built in to the tour? DH is really concerned about that. I am more the type that likes to go-go-go and he is the type that likes to stop and smell the roses. If he wants to take a day off cycling and just hang out, is that acceptable?

Did you use the hybrid or the road bike? DH has signed up for the hybrid with flat pedals, and I've signed up for the road bike with clipless. I've heard the Bianchi road bikes are very nice. How much do they do for you with fitting before you get out and ride?

Thanks for all the great info! This is getting more and more exciting! :D

04-19-2007, 06:26 AM
Yes, I initially thought I'd try to just do carry-on. Then I talked to my dad, who travels back and forth to Europe several times a year for biking, hiking and skiing trips. He definitely doesn't care what he wears, and is one of those "bring two pairs of underwear and wash one every night" kind of guys. He said no way could I do carry-on for a bike trip, plus a week in Florence (where we're going out for a few expensive dinners, so I want to look presentable). So I've given up that idea! I am bringing a couple pairs pants, a couple pairs shorts, 4 or 5 t shirts, long sleeve shirt, sweater, jacket, 3 biking jerseys, 3 biking shorts, sneakers, sandals, bike shoes, clipless pedals, helmet, camelbak, cycling windbreaker and rain jacket...plus some. I'm just hoping I can fit it all into one size up from a carry-on! My dad and his globe-hopping gf both said to get a wheeled duffel for a trip like this. Anyway, it's not like we'll be carrying the luggage onto and off trains all the time. Getting it from the van to the room shouldn't be too big a deal. But believe me, I am obsessing about it, too.

04-19-2007, 06:53 AM
I don't think I could do a biking (or hiking) trip with carryon only. I've done it for a week-long business trip but that was long before they started cracking down on security. My duffle at the time was about the size you mention and I got some...uh...err..questioning looks then. I bet now it would get pulled. You might be able to do it, particularly if you innocent.

We recently travelled in the US and they were taking the gel/liquid thing seriously. Quite a few people were indignant when their stuff was getting confiscated.

Now, I probably take a compromise. I still pack relatively light in a wheeled duffle (3 changes of clothes, not 2 and I have a pair of "dress" Tevas that double as kicking around and look OK with a skirt). Then I carry on a day pack/fanny pack with books, camera and a change of clothes. I tend to fly out a day early and take the attitude that, if need be, my luggage will catch up, or I have a credit card (as michelem said--I'm not travelling to the 3rd world).

That said, finding clothes wouldn't be my major concern, it would be things like sunscreen and toiletries. I have enough allergies that I have to be picky about what I buy. While I always make a point of going to the grocery store while in a foreign country to see the different types of foods (really, ace, you gotta try it if it isn't on your list!) and while I have visited the pharmacy in both England and Spain, when you don't speak the language, finding a non-allergenic sunscreen can be problematic. I can't carry enough on with today's rules, so I have no choice but to check my baggage.

Good luck, michelem. I stand in awe. But, one thing I learned while travelling to Mallorca--don't try to put the helmet inside your bag. The helment gets hung on the outside, thus not taking either weight or dimensions for your carry on limit.

04-19-2007, 07:02 AM
I have to say I have never had an issue with luggage with CC. The guides are great about schlepping it for you, so I try to pack light anyway. I usually have 2 bags, a checked and carry-on, and that's worked well for me, especially if you put all the bike gear in the the checked.

Re: how much leisure time is built in to the tour? There might be a cultural stop or two on a day, and then when riding there's usually a few re-groups and a lunch stop. Other than that it's your own pace, you don't need to stay huddled as a pack, and you can stop and photograph/shop, etc. as you wish. As a courtesy let the guides know your intentions so they don't worry about you, or so they can worry about you. Taking the day off, or part of a day, is truly cool if that's what you chose.

Re: Did you use the hybrid or the road bike? I've done both. Started with the hybrid when I wasn't comfy on the new fangled road bikes, then switched once I got my own Bianchi. Love the Bianchis they provide. Day 1 is all about getting you fit to your bike and they're great about helping you adjust things through the course of the trip.


04-19-2007, 11:00 AM
Oh, don't worry Thorn, I will be shopping in grocery stores. Food is one of my main hobbies :rolleyes:

What did you mean about putting your helmet on the outside of your bag? I was planning on putting mine in my checked luggage.

I always take the approach that if I don't bring the clothing item with me, I will not have it. I'm a size 2x/18, and I can't imagine the clothes shopping options will be great for me in Italy. Also, that means my clothes are bigger, so I get to take bigger luggage (that's one of my favorite rationalizations).

I will try to really limit what I bring, but I plan on tipping the guides well for lugging it around for me.

04-19-2007, 11:19 AM
I'm not worried about the CC guides mishandling my luggage - I'm concerned about the airlines. I learned my lesson years ago when my checked baggage was lost for over a week. This was for a U.S. flight (going away for college). I ended up having to wear the same outfit for the whole week - embarassing! I've not checked a bag since. We are changing planes twice, so that just ups the chance of having the bags not arrive when and where we arrive. Also, I keep hearing how the lost and mishandled (broken, stolen items, etc.) baggage rate keeps going up and up . . . I guess I'm just not that trustful.

04-19-2007, 11:28 AM
I've met people who've travelled to other countries and always ate out, never stopping inside the grocery store. Such a shame. To me, its just great fun. Seeing familiar things with different names; seeing things you've never heard of; what is considered typical; trying to order from the deli with sign language, etc. etc.

When we travelled the last leg of the trip to Mallorca, the plane was filled almost completely with cyclists (Mallorca in March is a cyclist heaven). More than 1/2 of the passengers carried on their helmet. They'd carry on a backback and on the back of the backpack they strapped their helmet. Several of the backpacks went oversized, but the airline didn't seem to count it.

We thought it was a neat way to carry the helmet--that way it didn't take up luggage space. I don't know if I'll use it, but it is an option. Our current plan is to use a larger day pack on the plane than normal. Then, after we get our bikes set up, freeing up suitcase space, we'll take our return trip clothes, put them in the larger day pack, and leave that day pack behind at the base hotel (we start and finish at the same place). That way, we will have a little bit more room yet have smaller suitcases for the trip.