From the Road: Bicycling Umbria
I just returned to Colorado from Italy, where I participated on the September 16-27 Cycling Umbria: A Pasta Addicts Delight bicycle tour. While I cycle a lot at home and knew that I could handle the terrain, I admit to being a little apprehensive. After all, this was my first time traveling to Italy and I do not speak the language. What I found was a place beyond anything I could have imagined. Wonderful, friendly people willing to help me as I stumbled through my phrase book, incredible food and wine with a freshness that felt like the chef had spent hours at the market that morning selecting the day’s ingredients, and absolutely incredible cycling!
Our route for this tour followed quiet (generally traffic-free) country roads through the Umbrian countryside, home of St. Francis and famous for its hilltop villages and crisp white wines. As the route climbed and descended each day, we were treated to views of the patchwork of vineyards and farmlands that make up the landscape. The cycling was what you would expect on a 401-level tour with hearty climbs and fun, fast descents. Daily mileage averaged 30 miles or so per day, with only one long day of 51 miles.
In talking with customers, one of the big attractions they found with this tour was the picturesque hilltop villages where we stayed most nights. And yes, medieval hilltop villages are on the tops of hills, so most days end with a short but invigorating climb. Remember, this also means that most days begin with an exhilarating descent out of town.
Dinners on this tour consisted of regional specialties typically featuring a variety of pasta dishes, complemented by a meat dish consisting of lamb, beef, goose, and even wild boar on one occasion! We were also treated to delicious pecorino cheese, truffles that the region is famous for, and of course plenty of succulent wine and olives. No one walked away from the table hungry or unsatisfied.
In preparing for this trip, plan plenty of riding before you get to Italy. Everyone on our trip was fit, and all thought the riding was tough but very worthwhile. Less experienced cyclists will enjoy this trip, but should prepare to spend some time shuttling in the van. Most of the folks on our tour found the weather in mid-September to be perfect. It hinted of rain a number of times, but we only got wet twice – not bad for a 12-day tour. It was never hot or humid, and the nights were perfect for walking around town. If our June or August tours better fit your schedule, prepare for warmer weather with fewer chances of rain. If you would like more information on this tour, follow the link below for tour details and an itinerary: