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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    Oakland, CA
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    276

    Ciclismo Classico experiences?

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    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.

    Cheers,
    Amy

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    8,548
    wow! that's really cool! you'll have to tell us about it
    Mimi Team TE BIANCHISTA
    for six tanks of gas you could have bought a bike.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Oakland, CA
    Posts
    276
    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.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    8,548
    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)
    Mimi Team TE BIANCHISTA
    for six tanks of gas you could have bought a bike.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Concord, CA USA
    Posts
    1,299
    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.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    1,057
    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. 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!)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    112
    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...



    Countryside...
















  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    8,548
    thanks for the great photos and travelogue!
    Mimi Team TE BIANCHISTA
    for six tanks of gas you could have bought a bike.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    112
    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...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Oakland, CA
    Posts
    276
    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.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Folsom CA
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    5,667
    wow, that all looks wonderful. Ace, you're gonna have a blast.

    2009 Lynskey R230 Houseblend - Brooks Team Pro
    2007 Rivendell Bleriot - Rivet Pearl

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Oakland, CA
    Posts
    276
    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.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    California
    Posts
    777
    Ace,

    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!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Oakland, CA
    Posts
    276
    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).

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    California
    Posts
    777
    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!

 

 

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