Bellissime Vacanze: Cycling In Italy
I’ve long been a fan of the cycling vacation. There are more options than ever to see your favorite race, ride amazing roads, just you and your bike. By letting a tour company take care of the details, all you do is ride, eat, drink, ride some more. Nonstop Ciclismo specializes in cycling vacations – Italian style…
California-based Nonstop Ciclismo runs small, supported cycling tours around Italy, with an emphasis on great riding, great food, and local cuisine and hospitality.
Not all the roads are this rustic, but you do get off the beaten path…
The Benefits of Being Small
Nonstop tours are intentionally limited in size. “We like to be small and flexible,” says Keith Neu, founder and director of Nonstop Ciclismo. “We’ve found that some of the most memorable events are the unexpected invitations that pop up along the way. Our small group size allows us to stay in agriturismi where you’ll feel more like family than a guest, and we can easily accept an invitation to join a local cycling club for some unplanned event. For those who don’t want to ride on any given day we can also provide them with the attention they need to plan alternative activities.”
Handpicked Routes – Challenging Terrain
Nonstop tour planner and director Keith Neu has lived, worked, raced and cycled in Italy for over 10 years. An engineer, architect and an accomplished cyclist Keith is still passionately attached to the bike, racing road and cyclocross, and personally accompanies every tour.
“I try to pick the most interesting routes for the avid cyclist – roads that get your blood flowing – a combination of minimal traffic, scenic vistas, cultural and historical interests, switchbacks, roads or climbs used by local pros or regional races, and anything else that makes your adrenaline flow when you look at it!” A lot to pack into a ride – well yes, but the rides are relaxed and fun, and you’ll never be left thinking of something to say at the dinner table!
Experience the Giro d’Italia and a Grand Fondo
Every year Nonstop plans a trip centered on the final week and a half of the Giro d’Italia, undoubtedly one of the best times to be a cyclist in Italy. For 2004 the Nonstop crew will be there riding the climbs of the final week… Mendola, Gavia, Mortirolo and Vivione Passes to name a few, and viewing the event live from the roadside. This year’s Giro tour participants will have the bonus option to participate in Italy’s largest Grand Fondo, the Nove Colli in Cesenatico. This is an incredible one-day ride that covers over 200 km and 9 hills with some 9000 other cyclists!
Friendly Hosts and Home Cooking
Wherever possible Nonstop lodges at agriturismi – Bed and Breakfasts that offer lodging, food and hospitality while promoting and supporting local Italian culture and sustainable agriculture. Agriturismi often produce their own olive oils, wines, honey, vegetables, and meats on the premises. Nonstop has nurtured relationships with agriturismi owners who feel like friends and family. Guests are welcomed like family. The dining is always fantastic on tables overflowing with food prepared with “amore” and handpicked ingredients. The accommodations are invariably warm and comfortable and uniquely reflective of the region. When not staying at an agriturismo, Nonstop stays in select 3 or 4 star hotels.
One of Nonstop’s favorite places in Toscana is an agriturismo located along a gravel road used in the film The English Patient. Surrounded by rolling hills and olive groves it feels more like a luxury villa than a hotel. Returning to this extraordinary place along a cypress lined road to lounge by the pool and indulge in an authentic Tuscan meal after a day of riding breathtaking terrain really is something out of the movies.
Former Category 1 Rider and Olympic trialist Christopher Abbott had this to say about his recent Nonstop trip:
“… The first day set the tone for the rest of the trip: unpacking at a beautiful agriturismo, short ride to catch the end of a Giro stage, dinner with Fassa Bortolo and Lampre. The next day was equally amazing: a six hour ride (the most beautiful of my life!) with lush climbs and playful roads, another beautiful agriturismo nestled in the mountains above Mugello, and an incredibly friendly cycling host that made the most amazing focaccia bread. The third day… This tour put a new meaning to the words “nonstop” and truly reflects the passion for cycling and culture by the ride organizer, Keith Neu. For the cycling fanatic, I could not recommend a better cycling and cultural experience.”
Guests staying at Ca Nova enjoy homemade pizza and foccaccia baked in their wood-burning brick oven.
Ride and See the Real Italy
Nonstops’ passion for cycling is at the heart of all of their trips. Their tours are planned for the experienced cyclist who loves the sport and the myriad pleasures it brings, from fun, fitness and comradery to the ability to enjoy culture, nature and history from the unique perspective of a bicycle.
Guests enjoy the flexibility to join cyclists they’ve met on the road for a few extra kilometers in the saddle, or a plate of pasta at an off-the-beaten-path trattoria. On one Giro Tour, Nonstop riders enjoyed a restorative soup prepared from the back of a van by a pair of cycling fans at the top of the Mortirolo!
Weekends at Nonstop Italia often means meeting up with a local club to join their ride or partake in a media fondo. These fun, well-organized ride events are unforgettable with their spirited participants and incredibly well stocked rest stops. In one such event the nonstop group was presented with a Ceramic by the organizers as a special prize for “the only American finishers!”
If you want to really want to experience Italy from the inside, you gotta give the crew at Nonstop a call.
Nonstop Ciclismo is offering Spring 2004 tours to see the Giro d’Italia, Emilia Romagna and Tuscany. Trips include breakfasts and dinners, accommodations, supported rides from 2 to 6 hours (30 – 90 miles), van transfers, and airport pick-up and dropoffs.
For detailed information and availability contact: