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Tandem Cycling A bicycle built for two. Want to find out more about this wonderful world of tandems? Check out this forum to talk with other tandem enthusiasts. Captains and stokers welcome!

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Old 02-11-07, 12:54 PM   #1
Thigh Master
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Italian roads busy?

I want to take our tandem to Italy. Non-riders who have been are adamant with me that most roads are too crowded to be any fun, let alone safe. Who among you has toured there and what's your opinion?
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Old 02-11-07, 03:46 PM   #2
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We cycled in Tuscany end of May last year for a full week. Not by tandem, but on hybrids. To answer your question, it depends on where you are planning to ride. The countryside where we were was quiet and scenic, but very hilly. It was not uncommon to hit 18-20%. Some climbs at 9-10% went on for 8-9 kilometers. On "strada bianchi" or white roads (gravel) some downhills were so steep and twisty, members of our group walked down. It was very tough cycling. BUT, in the country, the roads were quiet and the scenery was awesome! I would NOT ride a bike, tandem or otherwise, in Florence, Siena or Rome. Just too crazy with traffic and pedestrians everywhere and a lot of cobblestone. I know of people who have tandemed in Tuscany, had a good time, etc. but I don't know if they'd do it again. Good luck with your planning.
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Old 02-11-07, 07:53 PM   #3
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We are going to tour Tuscany this year for 10 days on the tandem, the cycling will be in the countryside and we anticipate hilly terrain. We have been to Italy several times (not cycling) and Rome, Venice, Florence, the Southern Coast and etc are not good for cycling too congested and too much traffic. One has to get out of the cities.
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Old 02-11-07, 09:49 PM   #4
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We took tandem tour of Tuscany 2 years ago. We were on our tandem and 3 of our friends rode single bikes. We had three other frineds in our group who took hikes and sites while we rode. We found the roads to be very pleasant to ride. Local drivers were nice and courteous. It was one of the best tours we have ever done. Almost all the riding was through small towns. The tour was planned by Nichols Expeditions ( Utah ). They supplied a guide who ferried luggage between hotels and took the non-riders in our group to various sites. He was very knowledgable and helpful.
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Old 02-12-07, 05:48 AM   #5
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The last time I raced in Italy was up in the Dolomites. There were a lot of nice quiet roads to ride... but the odd sharp turn followed by a poor shoulder. Always some danger in riding an unfamiliar road. The closer you get to civilization, the worse the traffic, just like here. The drivers may be a bit more accepting of cyclists than the average American.
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Old 02-12-07, 10:17 AM   #6
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There is some truth in this as Italian road engineers seem to like complicated multi-lane no-priorities junctions, closed-circle one-way systems, roadworks and potholes, disused tram lines, pipework and grates facing your direction of travel. Your common sense though should tell you this is tosh and that since Italy is one of the homes of cycling, so there must be roads that are nice for cycling.

My experience of 3 bike tours and numerous holiday trips to Italy is that there are great, beautiful roads to be found once you get out of the town centres. I even found Rome to be quite civilised in places. Yes there are crazy main roads, but the smaller suburbs and routes to the antiquities are quiet and very bikeable. I would have killed for a bike as I ended up with blisters from walking everywhere.

Just the same as anywhere else, try to find roads that join nowhere to nowhere and you will be fine. The challenge in my view is then avoiding too many big hills. Get some local advice, though be warned that Italians see some things differently: When I went to Riccione I asked about the area to the North, but was advised that it is flat and boring so I shouldn't go there. Instead I was told to ride from the seaside to the top of San Marino 749m to see the view, and pretty good it was too.
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Old 03-24-07, 09:05 AM   #7
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When I lived in Italy I did my first tandem touring/camping with my wife, we went from the Roma's Airport (Fiumicino) to Napoli, on the coast, continued south to Sorrento, took the ferry to Capri and rode the train back to Roma, great trip. If you want more details PM me.
I also biked with the tandem around Brescia, my home town, it's between Milano and Venezia.
On the north end of the Lake of Como too.
You should also post in the Europe section of the forums, more Italians there.....
Ciao
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Old 03-24-07, 11:04 AM   #8
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A couple of years ago, I spent a week cycling with a group in the area north of Venice around Bassano del Grappa, and had no problems at all with automobiles. It seems that Italian drivers in general respect cyclists (some of their national heroes are cyclists), and they are very used to seeing them on the roads and dealing carefully with them. It was delightful to say the least.

Actually, there is a problem that I've experienced every time I've cycled in Europe, not during the trip, but after returning: European motorists are so courteous to cyclists (relative to American motorists) that you begin to lose your focus on watching the traffic carefully. Not so bad when you're there, but a problem when you come back.

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Old 03-24-07, 11:52 AM   #9
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Dabbo,

I have business in Brescia and just left that area two days ago as well as Bergamo. I saw a lot of cyclist in Bergamo, in the city. I will be coming back here a few more times for business and I wondered what is the possibility of renting a bike while there. I plan on taking my wife on one of my business trips and would love to ride in the area. Do you have any suggestions concerning bike rental and ride information?
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Old 03-25-07, 03:25 AM   #10
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I just put a post in the "Help touring Italy" thread, but I agree with most of what has been written here, in this thread. As I said in the other thread, big cities aren't for tandems, but unlike the other folks, you don't seem to have Rome, Naples and Milan in mind so you will be fine.
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Old 03-27-07, 08:47 PM   #11
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All I can tell you is that Tuscany is road bike heaven. Mostly quiet roads and very hilly. We went with a group from Co-Motion cycles, http://www.co-motion.com/ who built our tandem, and rode with Andy Hampsten and his company Cinghiale Cycle Tours. Check out his site at http://www.cinghiale.com/ We did out and back rides from 2 central locations in Castagneto Carducci, near Pisa, and A small agrotourismo near Trequanda. Then two big transfer days. Rides to Pienza, Montepulciano, etc, Beautiful and mostly very light traffic. Give either of them a call or visit and they will gladly help you out. It's really great to bring your own bike as well, as trying to find a tandem that fits would be impossible there. Good Luck!!
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Old 03-29-07, 05:01 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thigh Master
I want to take our tandem to Italy. Non-riders who have been are adamant with me that most roads are too crowded to be any fun, let alone safe. Who among you has toured there and what's your opinion?
Two years ago we did a one week tour in Tuscany and Umbria with Rotalis (www.rotalis.de) using their rather heavy bikes, but it was exceptional in terms of organization, routes, scenery and accommodation. We did not encounter much traffic except in the towns, but that was probably due to the careful choice of routes. Rotalis seem to be rather less expensive than US tour companies, too!
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