21 Apr Coming To Italy – The Interview
This week, we have compiled the responses to some important bike-related questions to discover the motivation behind La Corsa from our founder Andy, chief bike guide Chris and social media manager Jason. Discover what made us want to ride in Italy originally, where we like to cycle in Tuscany and the individual reasons that inspired us to move here…
What is your first bike-related memory?
Andy: First bike related memory would be buying my first Raleigh Banana road bike when I was 12. I will never forget the smell of the fresh rubber in the shop and my new bike being brought up the stairs with all the celophane still on it. Unfortunately the shop is now gone as it turns out the owner was more fond of the spirits bottle than the water bottle! (Side note watch Danny Macaskill’s first video. He jumps from the roof of this shop to another)
Chris: handlebars on my bmx coming off on a downhill causing a collision with a parked car.
Jason: My dad pushing me on a BMX and when he finally let go, I careered down the hill and straight into a barbed wire fence!
When did you first ride in Italy?
Andy: My first ride was In May 2005 in Italy. I rode up to Fiesole which featured in the World Championships in 2013. I lived at the bottom of the hill and later it became an ideal ride if I was time tight but wanted a good work out. I think Chris will have difficulty getting that KOM on strava:)
Chris: 2007 2 days after arriving.
Jason: My first ride was in Emilia-Romagna in 2005 which was a blessing (the area is famously pancake-flat). When I first experience a Tuscan hill in 2009 it was a shock! Cyclists in London talk about the “hill” in Richmond Park or Box Hill in Surrey but they are blips on a map compared to what we have in Chianti.
What attracted you to the region of Tuscany originally?
Andy: I think what attracted me to Tuscany was everything. The weather, food, culture, riding, language, gelato, literally all of it. There are so many amazing roads and places to ride. The other plus is there is a culture of riding. People understand the sport and leave you room when they pass. Before the sport grew as much as it did in Britain people would laugh at you in lycra. It was refreshing to come to Tuscany where they understood the sport and respected you.
Chris: Weather, girls and food.
Jason: When I was working in London, developing websites but dreaming of a life in Italy, I went to pitch for a job that I knew would lock me in for years. Feeling quite uncertain, I walked into the room and along one of the walls was an enormous picture of a Tuscan scene. Six months later I was living in Florence and when I met Andy, he convinced me that a mountain biker like me should try out the Tuscan hills on a road bike. For anyone spending time here, it feels a bit like a trip to the past: the pace of life is slower and the focus on good food, good wine and great company is the perfect accompaniment to a day’s cycling.
What is your favourite ride in Tuscany?
Andy: I think one of my favourite rides is actually on the tour. Starting from our Villa we head over to near Gaiole In Chianti and take the road heading for Siena. Before we then turn and head to Castelnuovo Beradenga. The ride has a bit of everything including Strade Bianche (white roads) rolling hills, beautiful views and a good coffee stop.
Chris: Pinione then San Baronto from every direction
Jason: There are so many! The network of minor roads between all the Chianti towns: Castellina, Greve, Gaiole, Radda etc are excellent but you need to be sure that you won’t tackle an 18% gradient just to find the road turns to a farm track and a dead end. Once you know where to go or if you rode with a local, there are spectacular rides with very few cars and views for miles, sorry kilometres.
In your opinion, what is the best thing about riding a bike in Italy?
Andy: Best thing about riding in Italy is the fact that it is recognised as a very major sport so therefore there is a good understanding and appreciation. Every day Gazzetta Dello Sport usually has an article on cycling. This was actually a motivator in helping me learn Italian!
Chris: The hills. The vast amounts of rides on option around almost any given area. 7 weekly rides are possible not using any of the same roads. Oh, and the hills!
Jason: Seeing all the locals out, especially at weekends. There are so many cyclists on the road. Sometimes on a tour, I get asked if there is an event running there are so many! If you stop, even to take a picture, one the the passing cyclists will ask “tutto bene?” (everything ok?). It is inclusive and you will see riders of all ages, from young kids right up to adults in their 70s and beyond, often riding the same Colnago or Bianchi they bought new decades ago. They also have a great love of the aesthetics of cycling.
Do you break any of “The Rules”? If so, what are they?
Andy: I think the only rule I break is rule #14 // shorts should be black. Nope. They should be dark blue and polka dot like LaCorsa.
Chris: There’s a rulebook?
Jason: When I don’t have a support van following me around, I have been known to carry the “posterior european man satchel” so #29 and therefore also #31.
And finally: mid-ride coffee choice?
Andy: Too many to choose. Usually they are my favourite when I have scaled whatever climb I have to get over. If I am with Italians though I love to order a cappuccino, because if Italians had a rule book for coffee etiquette this would be a big no no! They are so serious about not having milk in a coffee after 12 noon it makes we want to do it regardless. Ooh the rebel I am!
Chris: Cappuccino in the winter and espresso in the summer.
Jason: I’m with Andy on the cappuccino thing; if I want one, I’m having one! Though during a ride, a macchiato in a piazza somewhere or with a nice view is my choice.