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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Got $5,000 to spare? Then go to Italy!

Today, I read with great interest -- and great envy-- the St. Louis Post-Dispatch story by Scott Anderson about his recent Backwoods trip to the Tuscany region of Italy.

"Riding a bike offers a unique up-front and personal perspective on whatever strange land you might be visiting. On our ride, the best part was stopping and talking to the folks along the way," Scott wrote.

That also sums up the reason why I do so many weeklong tours, although not nearly as luxurious as the Backwoods trips..

Scott wrote in detail about his travels, and he had this to say about the hills of the region:
To an active bicyclist, 45 miles a day doesn't sound like a lot. And, to be sure, Backroads and other touring companies offer trips in Italy that feature more mileage and more elevation each day.

But you must consider the hills when planning a trip for Tuscany, because these are hills in the big sense of the word. In some cases, they stretch for several miles, with an angle of incline approaching 8 percent, with five or six "switchbacks" to help in the ascent. (For comparison, the Tour De France features hills in the 10 percent to 12 percent range of incline).
He took several wonderful photos, so I encourage you to go take a look.

I was ready to go right now -- until I saw the price tag. The ride itself cost nearly $4,000 per person. Air fare from St. Louis to Rome was $900 per person. The train trip from Rome to Florence was $100 per person.

I have no doubt the price is worth it. Tracy, a friend of mine from the Belleville Area Bicycling and Eating Society, loves traveling with Backwoods, and she takes trips (mostly domestic) with Backwoods each year. Maybe someday I'll save enough pennies to make that trip.

In the meantime, I will have to settle with more economical trips. In June, I plan to do either the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure, the Katy Trail Ride or the Grand Illinois Trail and Parks ride. In late September-early October, I hope to be able to do Cycle North Carolina, and I hope I still have a few bucks available for BubbaFest in early November.

I foresee one of those weeks falling by the wayside, but I want to hit the road this year. I better start getting in shape now!

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