Hey everyone, another adventure is about to begin... this time a family bike tour to Italy! We'll send updates to our favorite website mudandcowbells.com and maybe it will inspire some fresh adventures for you readers!
The packing is almost complete and we're headed to the airport in a few hours. We'll fly Denver-Frankfurt-Florence and then comes the fun part: ride town-to-town for 8-days thru the bicycling nirvana of central Tuscany!!
Our plan is to make a loop south of Florence. We don't have a specific route or towns picked out, but we have a good list of recommendations and plenty of guidebook info. Tuscany is a huge tourist destination, and perhaps the most touted bike touring place in the world, so there is plenty of info available.
We are going super-light, with a credit card and one change of clothes. After a bunch of tours over the past 15 years, we've got a system pretty dialed. Travelling light allows us to ride normal bikes, cover some miles, and not suffer too much with extra-heavy loads. If you choose the right gear, you really don't need much. Our packing list is pretty short: one set of riding kit, one set of casual clothes, and various nic-nacs, toiletries, maps, and of course a bottle opener. All our stuff, for 3 people, will fit in just one set of panniers and one rear trunk. I think it is like 15 or 20 pounds total.
Our last big tour was 2008, two years ago, in the Netherlands. We did 12 days, hitting some cool places and enjoying the fantastic bike trail systems. In that tour, I rode my cross bike with Ella on the tag-a-long behind me, and Sally on her road bike. Ella was only 6, so being on mostly flat bike paths away from busy roads was perfect. We saw the height of spring flowers, the North Sea, plenty of canals, and even took in the Amstel Gold classic and sportive ride.
Ella is now 8 years old, and she'll be riding on the back of our tandem road bike with me up front. She's too short to reach the cranks, so I installed a "kid back" or "kiddie cranks". This is an additional set of cranks mounted on the stoker seat tube, above the normal cranks, with a chain linking them together. I also installed a kid's saddle and handlebars, so it is pretty comfortable and easy to ride. Using a tandem is much more stable and easier than a tag-a-long. It is lighter, faster, and we can actually work as a team. The downside is that it is kinda tricky to set up, and travelling with a tandem is difficult.
That's all I've got time for now, gotta catch a plane!
Pete, Sally & Ella