Bike Gay Tuscany
By Mike Boisvert.
Time Off Work: Eight days
When To Go: September
Starting in Florence you will ride the Tuscan hills from Radda to Siena. Along the way, you'll see peaceful forests, vibrant vineyards, and classic architectural sites. Your efforst are rewarded by enjoying world class wine and exquisite Italian cuisine. Your cycling tirp begins in Tuscany, in the fabled Renaissance city of Florence, and home of Michelangelo's "David." The next morning, you'll bike into the heart of Chianti Classico, a region famous for both beautiful landscapes and superior wines. Refresh yourself in the charming hilltop towns of Impruneta, Greve in Chianti, and Panzano.
From Radda you will follow a winding, panoramic route through the charming walled village of Castellina, with a stop to visit ancient Etruscan tombs, on our way to San Gimignano. You'll spot the fairy-tale skyline of this remarkably intact medieval town, sculpted with 12th-century towers, from miles away.
The road from San Gimignano to Siena passes through multi-leveled Colle Val d'Elsa and the ancient walled city of Monteriggioni. The trip ends with two nights and a sightseeing day in Siena, considered (with Florence) to be one of the two jewels of Tuscany.
Alyson Adventures is the only gay adventure travel company that offers a gay bike tour in Tuscany. Alyson Adventures Tuscany bike tour is a 6-day tour where you will average 25-40 miles each day.
Stationary biking is a big help, especially for your legs and cardiovascular system. Since you're pedaling continually on such a bike, an hour in the gym can provide the workout of several hours of normal biking, in which you're often coasting. A spinning class can keep the hour interesting. Yet there are some things a stationary bike just doesn't train you for:
- Getting used to being seated on a bike for several hours at a time. The bikes provided have upright handlebars, so you're in a fairly comfortable position. After several hours, however, your neck (which is bent back a bit more than usual) and butt may get uncomfortable, if the position is completely new for you.
- Other general bike skills -- steering, braking, avoiding potholes, remembering to put your foot down when you stop -- don't get any practice. Granted, these aren't neurosurgery, but it's helpful to have some practice.
Guys living in metro areas, more than anyone, seem to have trouble finding the time, the bike, and the uncrowded roads to get out for a few training rides. Many guys have done this trip with nothing but stationary biking experience, and had a great time. But it is highly encouraged that you get get in at least a couple afternoons of actual biking, before the trip. If the last bike you were on had coaster brakes and you haven't biked for years, then it's essential to get some on-the-road experience.
DON'T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT:
GREAT CYCLING SHORTS. The padding will make your ride more comfortable. Two pairs are plenty; you can rinse them out and in most cases, they synthetic fabrics will dry overnight. Likewise, cycling jerseys are designed to improve your biking experience, and they'll do so. Most of them are also made from quick-drying synthetics, so one or two will get you through the week. To reduce your luggage, shirts that are 50/50 cotton/polyester, while not trendy, will dry faster if you're sweaty, and if you rinse them out overnight. You can buy special cycling shoes with a stiffer sole, which are slightly more energy-efficient than walking shoes. Finally, a helmet is required; sunglasses are highly recommended as protection against both sun and insects (preferably wrap-around style); and padded cycling gloves will make your days more comfortable.
The Alyson Adventures trip costs $2,795 [ http://www.alysonadventures.com/bike/gay/italy.htm ], but you'll fly to Florence and leave from Siena, on your own dime. Florence has an international airport with flights to London, Paris, and Frankfurt. If you can get a good fare to one of these cities, then connect to Florence, that may be your cheapest and most convenient choice. From Siena, where you end, you can make train connections to your final destination. Or you can take a bus back to Florence.
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