Category Archives: Blog

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

 

Time flies and it flies especially when you are having fun and doing something you love.  It feels like yesterday we were saying that we were about to leave for our classics trip to see some of our friends at Roubaix and Flanders.  Today we are returning to Europe for our Summer schedule having completed five trips in six weeks in Belgium and Italy.

 

It is difficult to pick out one moment that stands out the most but its hard not to get excited about riding the last 100Km of Paris-Roubaix the day before the race with Roger Hammond and then getting the door to the Roubaix showers unlocked just for us.  Although Thor did not win Roubaix (this year) we still enjoyed chasing the race and thanks to our soigneur Bart were even able to sneak into the caravan.  That’s right, we got the van inside the carevan and our guests got to experience something that few people ever do.  The race from inside the race.   Jered Gruber who was shooting and leading rides for us puts it best in the recent Peloton Magazine article One Year Ago where along with our soigneur Bart and five guests we followed the race and even got in the caravan with the red van.

 

Following Belgium we were in Chianti doing what we have become known best for.  I’m happy to say that despite hundreds of miles ridden everybody gained weight.  Mission accomplished.  Both Ted King and Roger Hammond made appearances as did Giovanni Lombardi the legendary leadout man for Mario Cipolini.  It was great to spend time with these guys and share with them also what we love about the area.

 

The riding has gotten better and better and we enjoyed rides as long as 5 hours and as short as my favorite coffee shop ride from Lecchi to Castelnuovo Beradenga (2 hours).  All of our guests got to experience this amazing area and we like to think that we just made 25 new friends over the past few weeks.

 

Press
We’ve been fortunate to have some amazing press over the past few weeks. Our Portugal trip this September was named by Men’s Journal as one of the must do adventures of the year. You can see it here. In addition to Jered Grubers piece on Roubaix we were also featured in what I like to call Heidi Swift’s ode to our soigneur Raul as part of her Peloton Magazine* article on preparing for the Tour and we are greatful to slowtwitch for featuring us recently.

Mythic Soigneur

We talk about Raul often, our mythic soigneur but don’t take our word for it.  Read about him here as seen in Peloton Magazine.

 

Excerpt from Peloton Magazine article issue 13 by Heidi Swift

 

…I went to a town called Lecchi to meet a man named Joao Correia, I was there to write a story about his company, inGamba Tours.  Basically they package magic and wonder and long descents and massages and philosopher-shoemakers and pretty Pinarello bikes and foodgasms and great wine into one week-long trip.  By the end of the seventh day you’re so happy you can’t recognize your own heart anymore.  By the end of the seventh day you’re so tired that you want to weep and crumple and fall into someone’s arms.  So you do.  Those arms belong to Raul.

 

Raul

You come to inGamba knowing you will get massages from a professional soigneur.  It’s part of the package.  You think of this as a set of hands and a moment of relaxation.  You imagine yourself closing you’re eyes after a hard ride-a bit of kneading and pressure sorts you out.

 

Instead, you get Raul, Raul the leg whisperer.  Raul the clown.  Raul the mime.  Raul the comedian.  Raul the great.  Raul forever.
You fall in love with him.  You can’t help it.  Neither could I.  And he lover you, too.  Because that is why he breathes.  To take care of people.  To take care of you.  To take care of me.  The word soigneur means “one who takes care of others.”  This is not just about massage.  Everyone who meets Raul will learn that.  Everyone who meets Raul will learn something they did not know about how to love each other as human beings.  His is a selfless, devoted, invested kind of care.
Raul takes care of my legs every day that I am in Tuscany.  On some days he also rides with me, observing the way I climb or shift gears.  When we climb with fast groups, he puts a hand on my lower back and takes the edge off of my threshold effort.  He always ask for permission first.  When I run out of water, he hands me a fresh bidon from his cage.  When the fireworks go off in the front of the group, he sometimes gets caught up in the fray.  Then he sits up, supermans on his saddle and drifts back to me.  Laughing.

 

Later when he works my claves, he props my leg up on the table and leans his head against my knee-eyes close-and disappears into his work.  There is a conversation shared between fingers and muscles as he kneads his way into the very details of my pedaling, the shadowy forms of my doubts and insecurities, the secret hopes guarded in my heart.  By the time he’s done, he knows more about me than I intended.

 

He pats my shoulders after he finishes, pausing sometimes to sit on the couch and chatter at me in his broken Italian, which is the language where we meet.  Somewhere at the intersection of my 70% comprehension and his 30% speaking proficiency, he tells me things about my riding and my legs and how I’m going to be fine when I get to the Tour.  He knows it.  He taps a closed fist against his chest emphatically, closing his eyes and shaking his head side to side in a way that actually means yes.  Yes, Heidi, yes.
I’m almost certain that Raul thinks I’m batshit crazy, but as our time together winds down I can see that he loves the Crazy in me.  And isn’t crazy love, the only kind of love worth loving?  In some sense, if I can pull this off, it will be because of that man and the way that he took care of me for four short week sin May.

Joao Correia tells TourChats about L’Eroica

Joao Correia answers a question from D’Andrea, a member of our live show audience. Watch the full interview at TourChats.com

And We’re Off To a New Season

best

2012 was an amazing journey for us. Although the foundation of our company started with one ride in Chianti during the autumn of my 2010 season [read more about it here], inGamba has really become the work of a few people whose shared passion for riding a bicycle, eating great food and drinking fantastic wine have one thing in common. Sharing it with amazing people. I think Peloton Magazine summarized it best by saying:

“The concept of InGamba is simple: combine the best riding with the best of everything else. What life would we live if we could live perfectly every day? Eat and drink as if this is your last day, ride as if you won’t ride again, open your eyes and see the world, feel with every part of your heart. InGamba is not just about cycling, it’s about accessing a passion that most people might never get to engage. With InGamba, everything is personal. Everything is special. Everything rises above. These tours are created from intimate knowledge of places and decades-old friendships” ~ Heidi Swift – Peloton Magazine

If we do one thing well it’s creating experiences that you will never forget. Whether it’s spending a few days with a pro whom you may have read about, introducing you to the man known as the philosopher shoemaker or the woman who single handedly revolutionized what Chianti wine is today. With us you will see life through the lens of what relationships and passion do for people.

We run trips in Chianti in the Spring, Summer and Fall (8 total) and this year will again do our award winning Portugal Trip in September.
Each one of our trips is unique and is built around our passions for Chianti and sharing experiences that you can only have in this magical region. It’s a combination of the great roads, people and food & wine that you will only find there. In the middle there will be surprises that one of my partners summarized best “being open to what the road has to offer”. We never know what those are but some of our best memories come from those surprises this year.

What is similar with each trip is the level of service and attention to details. We limit our trips to 8-12 people. Our partnerships are built on relationships we have had for years.

We ride Pinarello bikes because those are the bikes we love and our relationship with the Pinarello family has allowed us unique access to a fleet of their top line Dogma model.

When you arrive you will be greeted by a kit from Giordana. We like their clothing. In fact we like them period. We think you will as well. You will meet the mythic soigneur Raul, who will not only fix your body after each day but he’ll touch your soul as well. And of course there is always Luis our mechanic to make sure your Pinarello is not only clean but is also running perfectly each day.

These are some of the things I enjoyed most about being on a pro team. Great bikes, amazing kit and a soigneur and mechanic to make sure the body and machine are running smoothly. I brought those to inGamba because I thought you should have them as well.

We hope you have the opportunity to travel with us this year and we have the opportunity to meet you, below please find our calendar for the season.

destinations

Join The Cause – Make A Difference

power

With 3 weeks to go until our first Chianti trip of the season we are super excited to get the show on the road. Over the past few weeks we have been busy getting our equipment in from our partners and assembling a program that will continue to delight our guests. When it comes to partners we are as lucky as it gets. We have the partners we wanted.

Out of all our partnerships this year the one I am most excited about is with World Bicycle Relief. They are our non-profit partner. The partner that helps us truly make a difference in the world. Through a program called One Guest : One Bike inGamba will donate $134 per guest allowing WBR to buy one bicycle for their Africa program.

A bicycle to us and many cyclists is a recreational tool. To many more people around the world, a bicycle is an inexpensive sustainable form of mobility, when mobility can mean the difference between seeing a doctor, getting to school, or making a living – or not.

World Bicycle Relief addresses the lack of affordable, reliable transportation in rural Africa by designing, sourcing and manufacturing high-quality bicycles to withstand African terrain and load requirements while meeting the needs of students, healthcare workers, farmers and entrepreneurs. They strengthen local economies and promote long-term sustainability by locally assembling bicycles, training mechanics and improving the spare parts supply chain. We share common values and envision a world where distance is no longer a barrier to education, healthcare and economic opportunity.

Not everybody will have an opportunity this year to travel with inGamba but you can still join us in spirit and join our commitment to make the world a better place through the power of a bicycle. Donating a bicycle is more than a gift; it is a long-term investment in sustainable practices and economic opportunity in rural Africa.

And since you are joining us in spirit we think you should get one of our Giordana t-shirts (We told you we had the best partners). During the month of March donate $134 through inGamba and we will send you a limited edition inGamba t-shirt.

Simply click here and make a difference.

Thank you for your support and have a great ride this weekend.

João M. Correia

inGamba Owner and Founder

The Fool

articles
You had to be there. We were frolicking up yet one more long, gentle grade under a soft sun, the six or seven of us. We were laughing now and then, or sometimes talking for a few earnest minutes about our families or some memory sparked by the landscape, or going on in a companionable silence punctuated with smiles and shakes of our heads and even sighs at our great good luck of being cyclists. We were sweating a sheen onto our arms and legs without dampening our jerseys or socks. In a few miles, we would be at the top of one more small mountain in a day full of them, and we would stop at a café or a bar or a market and sit and sip at Cokes in tiny bottles, or ristrettos in tinier cups, or a different vintage of the local Chianti wine than we’d sampled last time. Then we would do it all again, just like we’d done it all before.

What more could a cyclist ask for than a day like that? I suppose there is always more that could be requested or desired, no matter what. But right then, on that hill under that sun, none of us even cared to ask, let alone try to give an answer. Until Raul started hitching his tow-rope to us.

Our inGamba tour group’s Portugese soigneur would pedal stealthily up to someone’s rear wheel, slip a string around the horn of the unwitting rider’s rear brake, then ease backward until the line was taut and he was getting a free ride. It was a ludicrous and brilliant enhancement of the old trick of surreptiously grabbing someone’s saddle rail. When the rider felt the increased effort and glanced backward, there was nobody right there to betray the ruse—Raul was four or five feet away, and the string was hard to see.

A few of us had happened to be at the back of the group when Raul started playing around. We worked hard to keep our expressions neutral as we watched his victims one by one check to see if their tires were leaking air, shift gears for relief, examine the road in puzzlement over how the slope had steepened without changing appearance, and, astonished at their sudden collapse, gape at the rest of us spinning easily along. Meanwhile, Raul would be surfing the road from side to side like a waterskier, whipping the string like a wagon boss hectoring his horses, holding the line in his teeth and snapping his head like a hooked fish. Then, with impeccable comic timing he’d accelerate while winding in his string, unloop it from the brake and, tapping his index finger to his lips to indicate secrecy, reveal the trick to the tricked then move on to snare another rider.

He was a clown loose in a church, a harebrained guru with a silly and senseless sense of play set on reminding us that a stupid guffaw can be sharper than euphoria, and no less valuable even when the joke is cheap.

Eventually, Raul got what he deserved. While retrieving the string after a particularly long and hilarious snaring, he got it tangled in his cassette. His rear wheel locked up.  The whole ride stopped. The sting was wound and bound and meshed and snarled and twisted a hundred ways through teeth and cogs and chain and pulleys. We were going to be here a long time. And we were all smiling like fools.

You had to be there. You ought to be there. Get there if you can.

As Printed by Bicycling.com in Bill Strickland’s The Selection

Missing Home

articles
I often miss Chianti when I am home. And often miss home when I am away. I think that comes from being born Portuguese. A melancholy and yearning for things that we can’t have.

What does this have to do with a bicycle tour? Nothing. But recently I was thinking about Chianti and reminiscing with the writer Heidi Swift about Castelo di Ama and it’s owner Lorenza Sebasti. A woman who helped revolutionize what Chianti wine is. A woman who has so much passion for her work that you can’t help but be inspired and want to be better at your own work.

Thinking of her and her husband Marco, their wonderful three children. All the people whom we’ve met at Ama like Donatella, Sigrid, Paola and the amazing food that Giovanni has prepared for us over the years. The food that serves as the opening act for the wines we drink in that wonderful place.

Just thinking about it gets my taste buds going, and when that happens I cook. I cook a lot. I invite friends over to our house and well it gets a little out of hand with course after course and bottle after bottle. So one morning I phoned my friend Eric Genau at City Wine Merchants and asked him how many bottles of Castello di Ama he had? Apparently there’s quite a few.

Below is an excerpt of a piece that Heidi Swift wrote for Peloton Magazine that talks about Lorenza as well as a few of her photos from that day.

If that inspires you and you want to have some Ama the next time you cook or have friends over click on the links at the end of this newsletter and use the code INGAMBA20 at checkout for a 20% discount from us to you, your family and friends.

Click here to read about a recent Castello di Ama L’Apparita Retrospective 1985-2009 by renowned wine writer Antonio Galloni.

Lorenza By Hedi Swift

heidi.082618

“…Last week when my hosts from InGamba Tours took their group to visit Castello di Ama, a local winery, I tagged along. I was tired from training and wineries traditionally aren’t really my thing, but I rallied and went anyway. I’ll spare you the exhaustive description of the organic symmetry of the vineyards or the way the sun backlit the group as we walked east across the grounds. It’s a magical place, but what part of Tuscany isn’t?

More striking than the sprawling estate, ancient buildings or intimate collaborations with specific artists, was the woman at the head of it all: Lorenza Sebasti. Refined, articulate, gracious, elegant, warm and passionate, she seemed to embody everything I’ve begun to fall in love with in this part of Italy. I sat at her right hand throughout dinner and watched her command the table full of men with a presence that was soft and firm at the same time. When Lorenza speaks, you get quiet. You listen.

She spoke of history and innovation and soil and inspiration – and of her instant love affair with the land when she first visited at the age of 15. She discussed the grapes and processes with the knowledge of a scientist, the fervor of an artist and the affection of a lover. She has changed fundamental things about the production of Chianti. She’s challenged convention while respecting tradition. Together with her husband, the winemaker Marco Pallanti, they have constantly elevated, innovated and evolved every aspect of their work and life. She never said it directly, but the point was taken: never settle.

We were talking about wine, but we were also talking about life and love and family and inspiration and an existence so permeated with meaning that most of us can only begin to understand it. It’s about ambition, but not as we understand that word in the United States: it is about ambition balanced with real, honest respect for passion. It’s about making your life the way you want it to be while honoring a calling that exceeds your own existence. Have a purpose outside yourself. For godsake, do what you are meant to be doing. And do it well.

At the end of the meal, someone revealed that I was riding all of the stages of the Tour de France. I’ll be honest, in the presence of such a woman and such a life, the Tour seemed inconsequential and a little trite. To my surprise, she expressed not only respect but also jealousy: explaining that this “focus on sport” is something that she would like to have more of in her life. I joked that I was quite taken with her work as well and perhaps we could trade for a bit, to which she replied, “I think this would make my husband very happy,” and winked…”

We Go Big On Style

articles

We may be a small bike touring company, but when it comes to style, we go big.

When inGamba guests began telling us that people were asking where to buy our kit we were a bit perplexed. We were honored that people wanted it, but the kits were something we’d designed for ourselves and our guests. These kits are part of the welcome package our guests receive upon arrival for a trip.

The idea for the kit came to me when I saw how little attention most cyclists paid to what they’re wearing and how often things were really, really wrong. Besides simple fashion blunders, there also seemed to be a general lack of knowledge about how performance clothing is suppose to look and feel.

OUR FRIENDS AT GIORDANA
Italian style and quality

photo2.111143

To help us create a superior kit, we turned to our friends at Giordana. (They’re Italian and understand these things.) Our relationship with this clothing manufacturer goes back to when I worked in publishing, and continued when I made my return to the professional peloton with the Cervélo Test Team.

I’ve loved Giordana clothing for many years—and even helped develop some of it. We realized that another way to make our inGamba trips special was to provide every guest with the perfect kit: jersey, shorts, socks, gloves and the mandatory cap for the coffee shop stop.

CLASSIC INGAMBA
Modern design and technology

photo3.111612

The design is classic inGamba, blending an inspiration born of old team kits with a touch of modern design and product technology. We’re so confident in the quality that we’re certain this will quickly become one of your all-time favorite kits.

We all have a cherished T-shirt that we refuse to give up. We wear it over and over again until it contours perfectly to our body. Then after hundreds of washes, we’re finally forced by a significant other to let go. We kept this in mind when we developed our inGamba T-shirt, and went through dozens of samples to find the optimum blend of softness and style. If this doesn’t become your favorite tee, send it back and we’ll refund your money.

Perfection and preferred is the idea behind all of our T-shirts, hoodie and hats. These off-the-bike items will be the staple and number one go-to in your wardrobe. When you simply need an extra layer before dashing out to the store, you’ll reach for the super-soft hoodie. And the trucker hat can hide any hair mess you throw at it.

We hope you relish this first-rate cycling and casual clothing as much as we enjoyed making it for you. Introducing the inGamba Gear Store.

The InGamba Kit

articles

Christmas is approaching rather rapidly, so why not get those presents organised in good time? We have some great ideas for you…

Giordana’s Scatto bib shorts are made with a combination of textured, anti-abrasion Zaffiro™ fabric and a smooth, lightweight shield Endurance™ fabric for the perfect balance of durability, comfort and compression.

We’ve selected Giordana’s Vero jersey which is cut slimmer in the chest and sleeves; this more aggressive cut is worn by the majority of professional riders.

Buy Now!

grey-tee-shirt_large.171908

João tested 37 T-shirts in three months before settling on this one. We think it’s a little obsessive, but coming from a guy who used to work at Esquire magazine, it’s not surprising. This super-soft shirt has a brushed feel and vintage coziness that will quickly make it your favorite. Buy Now!

saddle_bagL2_large.101331

The SciCon saddlebag used by inGamba staff and guests. The tool-free attachment is fast and simple, and allows you to remove the bag so you can wash your bike after every ride. The bag comes with two tire levers integrated into the attachment; one on the inside of the bag, and one on the outside. Leave your old tire levers at home. Buy Now!

L’Eroica

articles

by Colin O’Brien

Glue. Gravel. 22mm hand-sewn tyres. Downtube shifters. Squealing brakes,

That perfectly pitch-black nothingness that you only find right before dawn, still draped over the Italian countryside, is being pulled back slowly by the coming day. An old, thick chain elicits a rich, rhythmic rattle from the yellowed steel of a Regina. A lot’s changed since it was new. You can almost count the teeth while it spins. You’re over-geared, and perhaps a little over-excited. Don’t worry. There’s only 200km to go.

That opening stretch comes and goes in a fog of anticipation and trepidation. With sparse light and sparser company, friends call to one another out in the empty, inky darkness and except for scattered replies and whirling freewheels, the roads are silent. It’s all a blur, like the tarmac racing past under wheel.

On any other day the weathered and crumbling stonework and the grand old gates of the Castello di Brolio would be a welcome site. It’s a fine property that makes finer wine and past the walls and the woods that surround it, the vineyard gives way to the Tuscan countryside in all it’s glory – rolling swathes of ochre and olive and green as far as the eye can see. On any other day, you might stop for a picture.

Not now. Tiny flames flicker and light the route through the still-black Brolio, up the cypress-lined ascent away from the familiar comfort of tarmac and up towards the dusty, uneven, ragged hell of the gravel. The Strade Bianche. What you came for. What you thought you were ready for.

Loose dirt and the scars cut deep through the grit by heavy rains mean that the strade are never easy. Even when they’re flat, they’re testing, coaxing you to go faster than you should. Inviting a puncture. Begging you to put a wheel wrong. And when they go up? Chianti’s hills are far from the malicious extremes of the north, but farther still from benign. Climb up a 15% stretch of uneven gravel on an antique with no compact and you’ll know all about it.

It ain’t all bad though. The highs are sweeter than the lows are sour and just when you’re almost broken, the road relents. A stretch of tarmac, perhaps, or a rest stop. Wine. Cakes. Coffee. Ribollita. There’s some grappa under the counter if you’ve really had a hard time.

Those moments spent on the grass, or stretched out on a low stone wall beneath the gentle warmth of October’s afternoon sun, will last a lifetime. The rose tint of hindsight will take care of the rest. After the finish line, the struggle will seem heroic. After a day or two, it will even seem … fun. This sport’s hilarious like that, in a peculiar, twisted way. Not everyone’s idea of amusement, perhaps, but if you’re into it there’s nothing better. Samuel Beckett called it dianoetic. It was the laugh of laughs to him, saluting what he thought was the highest joke: Suffering. He’d have made a good cyclist.

 

Colin O’Brien is a freelance cycling journalist based in Rome, Italy. He was invited to come on an inGamba trip once, and never left. He can be found staring at blank pages in Borgolecchi.