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How to survive cycling in Tuscany

ITALY | Monday, 12 August 2013 | Views [321]

Tuscany certainly meets all the requirements for a cycling holiday - for the semi-professional or the super-fit. So when my cyclist fiance suggested a very easy cycle for 12 days I wasn't easily convinced. He started planning and with a few flat cycling excursions where I managed the 30-40km which we planned to do per day in relative comfort I agreed that perhaps I would enjoy this adventure. Hmm...it turned out to be both better and worse than I thought so I thought I should write out some tips for the uninitiated.

Do

1. Book your accomodation in advance where possible. Although we always found accomodation in the end and the locals were always very accomodating, on the nights where we hadn't booked ahead we really didn't feel like approaching various hotels and B&Bs in our sweaty gear and asking if they would store our bikes. We booked a lot of accomodation 2-3 nights ahead online, but the wifi was not always reliable.

2. Consider agriturismo accomodation, although many of them were priced a little higher than hotels in towns, they are more likely to be able to store your bikes and are out in the lovely countryside.

3. Stop for picnic lunches, we loved the countryside most of all so we often stopped in a town to buy cheese and bread and wine and then cycled a little out of town to eat, buon appetito! Our dinners were mostly in restaurants and wow - pizza in Tuscany is amazing and the pasta is even better!

4. Carry plenty of water and spare tubes, we had four proper flat tyres and one that just seemed to leak enough that it needed to be pumped up each morning on our trip - our hire company supplied safety vests, helmets, tyre tubes and pumps as part of the package but they didn't supply a spare chain. Of course one of the chains broke on the first day - very unusual to happen I'm sure but it was an adventure trying to get hold of a chain in a tiny tuscan village - as you can see in the picture we got there in the end!

Don't

1. Forget to check your route carefully with regard to hills and likely cycle times. We took a wrong turn off our otherwised carefully planned route on the second day and we ended up riding up a mountain in the rain. Luckily the lovely staff at the B&B that we ended up at warmed us up by their fire and gave us whisky!

2. Forget to pack raingear. As a follow on from the previous tip, although we only had two significant rain events during our 12 days, you can get very cold very quickly and its just no fun to be wet.

3. Try to cycle all the way if you get exhausted, we had one planned train shortcut on our trip, but I also cheated and took the train from Sienna to Florence to give myself a little more down time. Having the bike along for the ride was not that much hassle and then you can enjoy cycling around the next town at your leisure - this is supposed to be fun! Tip - the carriage which carries the bikes is usually at the front or back of the train and usually has a symbol of a bike to tell you which it is - just give yourself plenty of time to figure out which platform your supposed to be on!

Tags: agriturismo, cycling, wine

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