Most ventures change the longer you pursue them and the cycling and photography tours are no exception. Some operators prefer to be mysterious and enigmatic. I prefer to be transparent.
I started off building these trips for anyone who wants to visit a location both to ride and to photograph there. Planning a separate trip to satisfy each of those interests separately is prohibitive for most of us from a time and financial practical reality. So I set out to combine the two passions into one experience. Now two years removed from the first trip; I have some important adjustments to make after running trips with guests and talking to dozens more who are curious about joining a trip. On those conversations with interested guests, I know they're really just kicking the tires unless I can satisfy some of the important questions and desires they have raised.
To get right to the point though; these are the specific changes on the Tuscany spring tour, and then I'll detail the broader changes I'm making for all future tours.
We now start in San Quirico. The original tour plan had us starting in Cortona, riding south to Casciano dei Bagni and then north to San Quirico. What's wrong with Cortona and the Chiana Valley? Not a thing. The cycling is beautiful. However; the locations we most want to photograph are concentrated in the Orcia Valley around San Quirico and Pienza. Watch the first video above to get a sense of the photo locations or have a look at the map on the tour details page.
We now have five out of eight nights where we don't move to a new hotel. This is an important change to accommodate guests who either don't ride at all or who want to take a break and skip the ride for the day.
We now end in Cinque Terre and there is no ride this day. In most places where I scout a bike tour there is an iconic photography location like this that doesn't fit nicely into the cycling itinerary. Instead of skipping it, we will make it a rest day stop, or work it into the beginning or end of the trip.
It's also important to note that the dates and price are staying the same. We will drop you off in Pisa to continue your travels or you can elect to stay in Monterosso.
Changes for all future cycling and photography tours
These changes are also reflected in the FAQs.
Self paced rides: Everybody rides at a different pace. We mark the ride route with chalk arrows and guests can download a gps route to help direct their ride. It's not enjoyable trying to do a group ride with cyclists who ride much faster or slower than you do. So just ride at your own pace. There is always a support vehicle and mechanic on the route to help with fixes or pick you up if you want a ride back to the hotel for the day.
Fewer transfer days to a new hotel: Inn to Inn tours are the norm for bike tours that are trying to cover a lot of territory - you ride to a new town and stay in a new hotel every day. In our case we want to do a daily ride, and we also want to really absorb the place we are visiting. If you have researched guided travel you may be familiar with the term hub and spoke tours. When you don't have to pack your gear every morning to transport it to a new hotel; you can have more relaxed evenings, mornings, and more time to explore with your camera when you're off the bike.
An additional benefit is that this makes the trips non-cyclist friendly. If you're traveling with a partner who isn't a cyclist they can stay at the overnight town and relax or explore on their own while you do the bike ride for the day.
Days on the schedule for photography only: I honestly do like to keep the days packed. When we are not on the bikes, I will have photography locations planned. If we are not visiting a photo location, we can review and edit photos together. Plan extra days before or after the paid tour if you want down time in the country and location we are visiting. When we are paying for guides, transportation and services I want to make sure we are filling all of those days with something of value.