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  1. #1
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Tuscany Tandem Tour Report

    Both Velodiva and I agreed this was our best vacation yet. We had perfect sunny weather for cycling with temperatures in the 70s and light winds. We met interesting people and made new friends and toured one of our favorite countries. This was our fifth trip to Italy and Santana did a wonderful job of creating unique bicycle touring and dining experience that would be difficult to impossible for us to do on our own.

    Since bikeforums only allows 10 pictures per post, at the end of this post there are two links to continue the report. These feature the mainland tour of the Chianti region.

    Cycling Metrics from Garmin:

    7 days: 270 miles: 36,800 feet of climbing: Average climbing; 138 feet per mile.

    Elba loop - 37.5 miles: 7,250 feet of climbing
    Elba to Volterra - 60 miles: 5,400 feet culminating in a 6 mile Category 1 climb to the walled city of Volterra
    Volterra to Sienna - 44 miles: 5,480 feet
    Sienna Loop - 20 miles: 2,654 feet
    Sienna to Castellini-in-Chianti: 40 miles: 6,580 feet
    Castellini-in-Chianti loop: 35 miles: 5,080 feet
    Castellini-in-Chianti to Florence: 31 miles: 4,395 feet

    Photography: 550 digital pictures taken

    Rome:

    We flew into Rome and were greeted by Bill and Jan McCready, owners of Santana, and we were bussed to our hotel in Rome and our bike was put on a truck, which we would receive once we arrived in Elba. We had a pre-tour of Rome, which included the Vatican, the Colliseum, the Catacombs and numerous other sights. Rome provided a great chance to recover from our jet lag and get ready for cycling. The weather in Rome was overcast and humid.

    We had a guided tour of the Vatican but the amount of art and information was formidable.

    Inside the Vatican



    Elba:

    We took 3 large buses loaded with 53 tandem teams and luggage from Rome via a 3 hour bus drive to a coastal port for a one hour ferry ride to Elba. On the bus, Bill McCready, President of Santana, reviewed the Italian traffic laws, meaning of traffic signs and the rules for cyclists. We got to observe cyclists on the road to see how they handled various traffic situations with cars and intersections to confirm Bill's instructions. It is too complicated to discuss, but is different than the US and Bill's advice was essential and very valuable. We thoroughly enjoyed our cycling experience on the Italian roads. The drivers were great and behaved exactly as Bill explained. The roads in Tuscany and Elba were smooth and in excellent condition for cycling.

    Coastline of Elba



    Upon arriving in Elba, we re-boarded our buses and got our first taste of the terrain. We climbed a 7% grade for several miles to the top of a ridge and descended a curvy road descending several hundred feet to our hotel at the coast located in a beautiful cove at secluded Biodola Bay. It was a magnificent setting but there certainly was a buzz among the teams about the terrain.

    View from our hotel room balcony



    One of the pools looking onto the beach.



    We chilled out at the beach and waited for our bikes to arrive. At 4PM, we received our bikes and 53 couples began the assembly. Santana had a mechanic, their European distributor, Wolfgang, and of course, Bill to assist, if necessary, in the assemble of the bikes. I think most everyone was finished by 6 PM.

    Building bikes



    Each day begins with a ride talk where Bill goes over the route and key points of interest. This location was interesting in that it started with a 500 foot climb in 2 miles to get back to the top of the ridge from the hotel. Velodiva and I were sooooo rested with so much adrenaline; we were ready to get on the bike and go and we zoomed up the hill and we began the trip across the island to the coast and the first major climb.

    Ride talk from Pope Bill



    Along the way, we stopped for a picture with some other teams and then continued on. We arrived at a small town right before the climb and stopped for a cappuccino and to refill water bottles.



    We started the climb and the views were breathtaking along the coast. The combination of air temperature, sun, scenery, wind and elevation were exhilarating. We approached the top and stopped for a few pics.

    The climb





    We continued on to the summit where lunch was scheduled. Another bike forum team, Sevenrider and his wife and Velodiva and I were the first to arrive and scoped out the town, shot some pics and hung out together waiting for the rest of the teams.

    View from the top



    Lunch was a 5 course extravaganza and we could not believe the amount of food that just kept coming. It was wonderful, but we still had some cycling and climbing to do.

    Click on these links below for the balance of the report. Please post comments on this page not on the links

    Tuscany Tandem Tour Report - Part 2 of 3

    Tuscany Tandem Tour Report - Part 3 of 3
    Last edited by Hermes; 10-04-07 at 06:04 PM.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

  2. #2
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    I am enjoying your write up and pics. Have to schedule a ride soon if we can.

    Next big ride for us is October 14th: Wine and Cheese Century in Riverbank, just north of Modesto. Wanna join us? Redrider and Cgallagh may join us too...

    http://www.stancobike.org/cheese_wine07.html

    Glad your trip was a great success. Look forward to a full debriefing in the near future
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  3. #3
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    A great tandem toot!
    Great ride report!
    We've visited Italia but never cycled there. Scenery/food/people are great. As great as the Vatican's art treasures are, we considered the display to be ostentatious.
    However we don't need to go as far as Tuscany to get in good/hard climbing.
    Twenty some years ago we did the Answer to the Arizona Challenge, a 3-day 325 mile event with 22,000 feet of climbing. Stoker Kay did not volunteer to do that tandem ride again as it was only 103 degrees at the finish line (it snowed on the ride the next year).
    Looks like you youngsters were in great shape and prepared for the ride!
    Did Bill and Jan ride the whole thing too?
    Again, thanks for the report and photos!
    Ciao!

  4. #4
    Bike & SCUBA Sevenrider's Avatar
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    Hermes did a great job of capturing the essense of this trip. There was so much going on that we had little time to savor it all at the time. His report helps to bring back some of the wonderful memories for me. It was fun to ride with 54 tandems and we met some new friends that I look forward to riding with in the future.

    After several days we settled into a routine: ride and climb some hills for about an hour, stop for a cappuccino, climb some more hills, have a great lunch at a restaurant with a wonderful view, ride some more hills, stop for another cappuccino, finish riding hills for the day and finish with a gelato. My Garmin said we were burning 4 - 6000 calories a day.

    The new Seven was more than capable for the hills. Our low gear is a 44 x 25 which forced us to climb faster than most of the other tandems that used granny gears.

    It was great fun!

  5. #5
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
    A great tandem toot!
    Great ride report!
    We've visited Italia but never cycled there. Scenery/food/people are great. As great as the Vatican's art treasures are, we considered the display to be ostentatious.
    However we don't need to go as far as Tuscany to get in good/hard climbing.
    Twenty some years ago we did the Answer to the Arizona Challenge, a 3-day 325 mile event with 22,000 feet of climbing. Stoker Kay did not volunteer to do that tandem ride again as it was only 103 degrees at the finish line (it snowed on the ride the next year).
    Looks like you youngsters were in great shape and prepared for the ride!
    Did Bill and Jan ride the whole thing too?
    Again, thanks for the report and photos!
    Ciao!
    Yes and they were extremely gracious hosts.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

  6. #6
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Sounds like a great tour; Bill & Jan always do a first class job.

    If you don't mind me asking, what did the price per person / per day work out to?

  7. #7
    DoubleTrouble cgallagh's Avatar
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    What a great adventure. Fantastic pics. We are happy to hear you enjoyed the trip and are looking forward to a ride together soon. I found a website that details many different rides around here, Napa, and Sonoma. We should get a tandem peleton going.
    Two blondes walked into a building-You think one of them would have seen it.
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  8. #8
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek View Post
    Sounds like a great tour; Bill & Jan always do a first class job.

    If you don't mind me asking, what did the price per person / per day work out to?
    The Santana website provides pricing for their tours.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

  9. #9
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cgallagh View Post
    What a great adventure. Fantastic pics. We are happy to hear you enjoyed the trip and are looking forward to a ride together soon. I found a website that details many different rides around here, Napa, and Sonoma. We should get a tandem peleton going.
    Absolutely. A very cool ride is to ride between Napa and Sonoma over the ridge via 128. This is essentially the route that the Amgen's Tour of California took this year. We did it as part of the Santana tour of the wine country tour last year.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

  10. #10
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    The Santana website provides pricing for their tours.
    Yes, they do... for future tours. Not the ones that have already been completed which is why I asked.

    So, can I asume that it was about the same as next year's tour of Spain: $355 per person, per day excluding air fare?

  11. #11
    Senior Member 72andsunny's Avatar
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    Tuscany ride report: (I could have guessed this without going to Italy) Hermes and Velodiva are much, much faster than me and the Mrs; Sevenrider(s) is (are) much faster than me and the Mrs.

    Here's the best picture I took in Italy (with my tiny Sony camera).

  12. #12
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Thanks for reading and your responses.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

  13. #13
    Senior Member
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    44X25? low gear? OUCH! Riding an 8% grade with that gear on
    a single would be tough,..but on a tandem? But yep,..if you really
    could push that gear,...you'd definately be goin' pretty fast.

  14. #14
    Don't mince words Red Rider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smooooth View Post
    I am enjoying your write up and pics. Have to schedule a ride soon if we can.

    Next big ride for us is October 14th: Wine and Cheese Century in Riverbank, just north of Modesto. Wanna join us? Redrider and Cgallagh may join us too...

    http://www.stancobike.org/cheese_wine07.html

    Glad your trip was a great success. Look forward to a full debriefing in the near future
    We just might see you there. Chris is tweaking his schedule.

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  15. #15
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    Wow! I had no idea!. Not a lot of miles but a lot of climbing! Great photos & tales.

    Santana's website lists prices for future tours. They look to run about $800/day. Since the dollar has been falling, I wonder if the prices will go even higher?

  16. #16
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldacura View Post
    Wow! I had no idea!. Not a lot of miles but a lot of climbing! Great photos & tales.

    Santana's website lists prices for future tours. They look to run about $800/day. Since the dollar has been falling, I wonder if the prices will go even higher?
    There were times that we thought we wanted more miles but in retrospect it was perfect. It gave us time for photography, hanging out, practicing dolce far niente - art of doing nothing, shopping and experiencing the area. For example, one of the many cool things Santana did was park a van at an interesting town en route. One could shop and put purchases in the van and continue on. You pick up your purchases at the hotel.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

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    Great trip report and photos!

    44X25 was that a typo?

    Did most tandems have a disc brake?
    Did most tandems have couplers?

    We have been on 2 Santana rally's in Colorado and California and they were both excellent.

    Rob

  18. #18
    Bike & SCUBA Sevenrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robmitchell View Post
    44X25 was that a typo?
    I'll jump in on this because it is my bike that has a 44 x 25 as the lowest gear. It works great for where I live. If I had to do a lot of climbing, with steep grades I would change it. We do fast, day trips and don't plan to do any self-supported touring. The Santana tour was great for us because they take care of moving clothes and luggage from site to site. You do pay for that privilege.

    Quote Originally Posted by robmitchell View Post
    Did most tandems have a disc brake?
    Most of the tandems had at least a rear disc. I have both front and rear Avid BB7 discs

    Quote Originally Posted by robmitchell View Post
    Did most tandems have couplers?
    About a third to a half of the tandems had couplers. I have couplers on my Seven

  19. #19
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Jeff and Shari (Seven Rider) recount their Tuscany tour for the local paper: http://www.plamerican.com/node/3623

  20. #20
    Bike & SCUBA Sevenrider's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting the link to the article. The story came about when our local newspaper, that is always looking for local interest stories, did an article on our bike club. During the interviews they asked if any of us were training for something special and we mentioned our upcoming trip to Tuscany. They called us when we returned and did a nice job of covering the trip.

  21. #21
    EATS
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    tuscany trip with Santana

    We were on the same trip with Hermes and had an outstanding time. I've attached a trip review. Enjoy
    Attached Files Attached Files

  22. #22
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    Great reports on what is now our dream vacation. We've done 4 Santana rallys and are looking forward to a tour with them. I would like to ask how you packed for this trip. Specificly, how much cycling and non-cycling clothing did you bring? Did you end up using a laundry service?

    Thanks
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  23. #23
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnlyons53 View Post
    We were on the same trip with Hermes and had an outstanding time. I've attached a trip review. Enjoy
    That report is very well written with so much great detail. It was like reliving it again. It was our best vacation. We are signed up for Mallorca next year.

  24. #24
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TeamTi700 View Post
    Great reports on what is now our dream vacation. We've done 4 Santana rallys and are looking forward to a tour with them. I would like to ask how you packed for this trip. Specificly, how much cycling and non-cycling clothing did you bring? Did you end up using a laundry service?

    Thanks
    We are heavy packers. We packed 5 days worth of cycling and many days of other clothes. We hand washed a couple of things.

  25. #25
    EATS
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    Packing for a tour

    We tried to pack light and had enough clothes for 5 days. We went to a laundromat about half way through the trip and that worked out really well. Our bike stuff is wool (shorts, jerseys, socks) and it just doesn't need daily washing. We did eventually hand wash some stuff in the hotel and it was dry the next day. We each also packed some civilian clothes (pants, shorts, sandals, a few tops and one dressier outfit each for dinners). We fit everything for 10 days in one largish suitcase and one carryon with room enough for bottles of wine, oil, and presents on the way home.

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