My husband and I along with our teenagers, Josh 16 and Zoë 14 had last
cycled in the October 2011 and keep reasonably active during the winter with
outdoor and or racket sports and gym. So not by any means cycling fit or
real cyclists however, were up for an active vacation. We have mountain
bikes at home so on Day 1 were given the 101 on the fabulous Italian road
bikes' mechanics, namely how the gears work, etc. and then did a warm-up
cycle where we needed to target an average speed of 25km per hour. This is
quite doable for a novice on a great Italian road bike. Day one was a great
intro and got us set-up for the next 5 thrilling days. We had a cooking
class in the afternoon of the 1st day and that worked great as we made a
calamari starter and a risotto in addition to Kathy's tiramisu that my
teenagers rated the best of trip after trying a few different types at other
The second day, a Sunday was cycling to Soave followed by exploring Verona.
Our cycling guide, Vernon, established after day one that we were good for
around 40 km on the 2nd day and for more experienced / fitter cyclists they
would have been good to cycle all the way to Verona, however, they wanted us
to have the energy to enjoy the city. That is what made it so great, we
cycled 30 to 50 km per day which allowed us to stop for a macchiato
mid-morning, enjoy the exploring a town at lunch and end our day around 3 pm
to allow us to relax before going out in the evenings for some sight-seeing,
proseccos/cocktails & dinner. The 9.30 am get together each morning made for
a good rest and enough time to enjoy a hearty Italian breakfast. The pace
allowed our teenagers to look forward to each morning's excursion and they
were always excited to get on the bikes for the day!
On day 3 we cooked in the morning and cycled hills in the afternoon. We made
a meat ragout and risotto balls with roasted asparagus, with Kathy always
sourcing the freshest ingredients and salads in the region. The cooking
classes were fabulous and upon returning when Zoe had her 1st day off school
on Monday April 23, she made the meat ragout for our evening meal and
another meal for the Tuesday night. She called me at work to ask me what red
wine she could use...I said you could leave it out if she wanted, however,
she was very comfortable cooking with red wine after our lesson with Kathy.
The difference this trip has made is that Zoe is now a much more
enthusiastic cook that she was before. Our 8 pots that were previously
filled with flowers in the summer now all have herbs instead for use in our
salads and dishes. She now does the meal planning! So great! Her last
lasagne was made with sausage meat...I have always used ground beef!
The other cycle days covered great terrain and great places to explore and
we tried gelato in all the different places and found that our 1st cone of
mandarin gelato in Bassano Del Grappo was not matched in Castlefranco, etc.
We tried new flavours / dishes wherever we went and loved the freshness of
the food. In Bassano Del Grappo, Zoe found the perfect Grade 9 grad dress
and the perfect shoes to match in the next street. Our final perfect day was
spent walking around Venice for the day...we could feel the accumulation of
the 6 days of cycling, so visited from 9 to 3 which worked great.
Key is that a cooking & cycling trip can work for a family with teenagers
where everyone has a base level of fitness and is keen to try new things.
Also Kathy and Vernon could accommodate someone who may not wish to cycle
one day or someone who wants to chill and not cook, (like Mike). For
families who like being active, trying new foods and wines, you can't go
wrong. The Italians are used to looking out for cyclists all the time and so
with the narrow roads you are regarded as simply another "vehicle" on the
road and I had one scary moment when we got separated in the roundabout with
4 entries/exits of 2 lanes of traffic each, however, it was only me who was
nervous...the cars are looking out for you!
We had a fun dinner on the final evening where we enjoyed great food and
wine, received our 1st ever "cycling shirts" and have been recommending this
trip to our friends. We would love to do a different region in Italy
sometime in the next few years. My kids love that they cycled "Giro
d'Veneto" the same year that Ryder Hesjedal won the Giro d'Italia. Go