After months of excitement leading up to our Achieve InGamba trip to Tuscany, I found myself in the back of an E-class winding its way through a labyrinth of narrow streets in Florence. It was around midnight local time. Antonio was an excellent driver. He greeted me at the airport with a warmth that I would soon find commonplace with the people I was about to meet. We were en route to Borgolecchi in Chianti, a region where from my perspective, having never been overseas, would be so magical that it looked unreal – even with my tired eyes in the middle of the night.
The next morning was the start of an experience so rich, polished, and meticulously thought out that it’s worth saying I couldn’t possibly paint the complete picture of how incredible the trip was. This professionalism was combined with such an inclusive ease and accommodation for each of our specific needs, whether dietary or supportive of our non-riding guests, the support from the staff was exceptional.
A typical day started with me crawling my way one door down to the kitchen at Borgolecchi Inn. There was hot coffee, espresso served on request (both quite good) and a spread of the biggest variety of freshly made breakfast foods you can imagine. Inga, the innkeeper, would be there to show me my options and say nice things to me. It seemed like she was always in the kitchen laughing and cooking up magic.
After lots of coffee and some food, we’d kit up and regroup at the servizio corsa at the end of our block. Pinarello F10’s equipped with Sram e-Tap would be waiting outside; immaculate, in perfect working order, with each riders’ bike fit metrics set up properly, rides programmed into the Garmins, and a route card on every bike.
Inside were our lockers: helmets, glasses, shoes on shelves and hooks under a nice label with each rider’s name. Across the room on the workbench, was ride food, sunscreen and other essentials.
We would then depart on a fully supported ride with two follow cars and several of the InGamba guides. All of whose WorldTour racing palomares was only outmatched by their kindness.
Our rides were 40-60 kilometers on the easy days and 100+km on our bigger days. The roads were endless undulations of small rollers, hills and up to 10km-long climbs through the tree covered countryside. Coming up for a view occasionally at castle- or village-topped hills where we’d try to guess which way we came from before dropping down well-paved, banked descents. The disorienting and constant twists and turns made the hills of Chianti seem even more special and lost in time.
Upon our returns to Lecci, Paulo; former pro-turned-cafe-and-general-store-owner, would offer up a delicious, ice cold, very sweet and slightly salty lemon drink for recovery. Then, after showers and fresh clothes, we’d either return to Paulo’s cafe or Borgolecchi for delightful three-course lunches with our choice of wine as we recalled the days’ triumphs and suffering.
In the hours between lunch and dinner, we’d chill, catch up, and nap while waiting for our daily massages.
Then; Aperitivo!!! Where platters of bruschetta made with the best tomatoes I’ve tasted materialized at will, and endless glasses of Prosecco flowed over jokes, laughter and conversations between the group and our guides, all of us becoming fast friends.
After this, we’d head to exquisite three-course dinners either at the Inn or at a locally renowned restaurant, or a winery with contemporary art installments. Again, more wine, great food, sparkling water and good company all in equal amounts.
It was truly an unforgettable trip of a lifetime that we hope to make an annual AchievePTC tradition for years to come. Thank you InGamba. See you in Italy!
Ciao, Coach Ryan
Photo credit: Jim Sullivan and Michelle Miller, some from James Thorpe, some from myself