This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 10th, 2009 at 10:25 am and is filed under Cycle touring. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
A couple of weeks back I was in Italy with Ciclismo Classico, a US-based bike holiday company that’s been showing guests the dolce vita since 1988.
I produced the six minute video above as a record of the trip. It’s different to the YouTube version I posted earlier. It’s now stored on Vimeo.com and is in HD format so click to play but come back in a couple of minutes, giving the player time to load the hi-res content.
I hope the film gives a flavour of what it’s like to go on this particular trip – it’s the Bike Across Italy trip, from Fano to Porte Ercole – but also why guided bike tours are worth every penny.
For sure, they’re not cheap. But, choose wisely, and you’ll be immersed in the country you’re cycling through. Expert guides can bring a country alive; with special insights, local knowledge and, perhaps most important of all, personal contacts.
Marcello, one of the two guides on my trip, seemed to know everybody, everywhere. He was a larger than life character, adored in every town we stayed in or cycled through.
I love touring by bike. I’ve done lots of extended, independent trips, through some fascinating countries, and local colour comes with the territory, but if you’ve got just a week or ten days to spare, a guided bike trip can see you embedded into the local scene quickly and easily.
Most of my long-distance tours were undertaken solo. I’m comfortable in my own company and - pre-children - could happily ride for months on my tod. On a guided bike tour you’re thrown together with a bunch of strangers, linked only by your love of cycling.
As those trip guests I interviewed for the video say, this could be a recipe for disaster but the kind of folks attracted to guided bike tours are, almost by definition, a good kind of people. They’re sociable, bright, intelligent, talented and fun to be with. OK, there might be a few cycle-crazed sociopaths out there frequenting bike holidays, but it’s rare.
Those who choose to spend a large chunk of disposable income on an overseas bicycle holiday are highly likely to be people you’d want to spend time with.
On a technical note, the video was produced using a load of different camera clamps and on-bike booms. Most of the bike close-ups are of the bike I was riding so the legs are mostly mine. There’s also a brief ‘panda’ shot.
The HD segments were filmed with a small Aiptek camera; the vertical-distorting wide-angle shots were achieved with an X170 from Drift Innovations. None of the shots were ’set-up’: it would have been cruel to ask folks on holiday to ride back up a hill just so I could get a better fly-past. On the plus side, this meant I had to ride like the clappers to get in front of people in time for the shot so my sprinting skills improved no end.
Here’s not the place to give a town by town, experience by experience, re-telling of the Bike Across Italy trip. Hopefully, a picture tells a thousand words - and there are lots of pretty pictures in the video above. Please watch it, rate it and let me know what you think of it.