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Vittoria tubulars: when only the best will do

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Life is too short for bad bikes or cheap wine. That’s our philosophy and we’re sticking to it, because once you’ve had the best, there’s no going back.

All of our bikes are shod with Vittoria tubulars for a reason: we think they rock. And when you’re rolling in a mini peloton with a fleet of Pinarello F8s and a mechanical support car right behind, you need to be rocking.

Most of you will need no introduction to the storied Italian tyre brand. We don’t have the space to get into their palmarès here but trust us, it’s long. Bernard Hinault trusted them. So to did Francesco Moser and Marco Pantani. And when John Degenkolb out-sprinted Zdeněk Štybar and Greg Van Avermaet to win the 2015 edition of Paris Roubaix, he did it on Vittoria rubber.

Long-time fans will tell you that they love the supple feel and incredible grip. The fanatics will even insist that they sound differently at speed (they do). They might not be the hardiest tyre on the market, but they’re not meant to be. They’re meant to be fast. Just like that really expensive road bike of yours.

That performance comes from their high TPI – the threads per inch in the tubular’s cotton casing. The higher the number, the better the tyre deals with rough roads and changeable surfaces because it deforms easier, providing more traction. Your average nylon clincher will have a TPI of anywhere from 60 to 150; the cotton-cased Corsa range comes in at 320. That means that they can use less material to make a stronger tyre, saving weight and promising a smooth ride.

So if you want to carve through bends, fly up mountains and descend with confidence – we know we do – they’re the obvious choice. Upgrading wheels and tyres is the most dramatic performance improvement you can make to a bike. And because those tyres are your only contact point with the road and not something that’s worth being cheap with. So go on: treat yourself. You can thank us later.

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Vittoria made waves earlier this season by releasing Magic Mastik, a glue that promises to revolutionise the way we think about tubs. No more multiple layers, no more waiting for days. Just one application and an overnight cure and they’re ready to race. We think it’s amazing, but if you’re old skool there’s no shame in sticking – pun intended – with the tried and trusted Mastik’One either. Check out the video below to see how easy Magic Mastik is. 

 

The Secret Handshake ride

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It began with 102 kilometres from Cluses to Areches, to shake out the legs. The arduous Col de la Colombière – so often the scene of drama in the Tour de France – was one of just four mountains that combined for 3,236m of climbing, all under a baking sun. And this was supposed to be the easy day. The warm up.

To cool down, there was only one thing for it. Behind the hotel, over a fence and down a small slope, ran a river. Ice cold meltwater, flowing right from on top of the Col. For a bunch of slow-broiled cyclists with salt-caked kit and swollen legs, it couldn’t have been more welcoming had it been gushing straight from heaven. Even the soigneur – guardian of the legs, high priest of recovery – approved. The pros have proper ice baths prepared for them to fight against delayed onset muscle soreness and inflammation, but for a bunch of friends on a stupidly difficult ride across France, a frigid stream was as good as it was going to get.

 

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It bears repeating: this was the easy day. But then, that’s what happens when you let your crazy friends be in charge for a while. Because, ladies and gents, this is Jered Gruber’s idea of fun. This is his Dream Ride across the snow-capped Alps to Nice and the sun-drenched beaches of the Mediterranean Sea. We’re just along for the ride.

Most of you will know Jered, the photographer. What you might not know is that there’s another side to him: Jered, the cartographer. He has an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of Europe’s great roads, and he’s constantly searching for the lesser-known, hidden gems that weave their way through the Alps and the Dolomites.

This six-day Randonnée from the Rhône-Alpes to Nice and the Côte d’Azur is a leg-destroying, spirit-lifting combination of his favourite ascents. The invitation-only ride covers almost 830km and ascends more than 25,000m, climbing some of the sport’s most iconic roads. The Col d’Iseran, Galibier, Izoard, Sampeyre and la Bonnette are just a few of the peaks along the way, but if the opening stages are any indication, we expect the lesser known summits like the Cormet de Roselend to be the real stars.

Watch this space for more, and be sure to keep an eye on our Instagram for some incredible photos from Jered.

 

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Le Panzanelle: a tuscan treat

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Stuffed tomatoes or seasoned pork to start? Or how about a fresh goats cheese salad or some bruschette? Life is full of difficult choices. By the time you reach the pasta course it’s a real dilemma. The rabbit and vegetable sauce seems an obvious choice, but the wild boar doesn’t look bad either. There’s also that seafood lasagna that isn’t on the menu to consider.

If you’ve ridden all day and can manage a second course, the Fiorentina steak is a perennial favourite. But depending on the time of year there will be lamb chops, stuffed veal, wild boar stew or the ever-enticing peposo – a Tuscan speciality of beef slow-cooked with tomatoes, some wine and a lot of pepper – to bring out your appetite’s capriciousness.

 

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At least choosing dessert is easy, because everyone knows that the panna cotta here is one of the best you’ll find in Italy. Wait, you didn’t know that they baked the cantucci themselves?

This being Chianti, there’s obviously a heady array of wine in the cantina. We haven’t quite tried all of the 300 labels on offer – we’re trying our best, honestly – but whether you’re after a simple house wine, a local star, a hidden gem or a renowned vintage, there’s something on the card to suit.

The only thing that’s easy to agree upon is that Osteria Le Panzanelle is an unmissable treat when you’re in Chianti. Hidden away on an unassuming country road in Lucarelli, not far from Radda in Chianti, this little restaurant is a treasure, loved by locals and tourists alike. The atmosphere is relaxed and convivial, the staff are always smiling and the décor is as clean and unfussy as the menu, which changes according to the season.

In spring, we’re there to catch up with our friends in the pro peloton after the Strade Bianche. In summer, we share long evenings full of clinking glasses warm conversation with our guests, and in autumn, when our time in Tuscany comes to a end with L’Eroica, you’ll find us unwinding in the courtyard or by the large open windows inside, watching the world go by with a glass of well-earned Chianti Classico, reflecting on another year in the saddle.

Like a favourite road or a classic climb, it’s one of those special places of which we never tire. It’s familiar and yet it changes every time. And we love it for that.

inGamba in numbers: A marathon stretch in northern italy

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The summer is officially in full swing at inGamba. We’ve been enjoying the incredible weather at our new permanent base in the Dolomites at Corvara’s Hotel La Perla, and we’ve been very busy racing and having fun at two of our favourite events: the Maratona dles Dolomites and the Pinarello Granfondo.

 

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Getting from Italy’s high mountains to our home in Tuscany and then to Treviso to hang out with our friends at Pinarello requires some planning and a lot of hard work, but we think it’s worth it. Guests get to experience some of Italy’s most iconic climbs before discovering something totally different in Chianti and in Veneto. It’s hard to explain to people just how much we manage to fit into a trip like this, but here are some of the stand out numbers to give you an idea.

1 – Michelin star meal at Hotel La Perla’s La Stüa de Michil restaurant.

2 – Granfondos in a week.

3 – Destinations. Alta Badia, Tuscany and Treviso.

7 – Mountain passes climbed during the Maratona dles Dolomites.

19 – Percent. The maximum gradient on the Maratona’s final – and infamous – climb, the Mür dl Giat.

100 – Days. Reportedly the time it took Austrian soldiers to build the iconic switchbacks of the Passo San Boldo after their defeat at Caporetto during World War One. It is 7km long with an average gradient of 10% and 18 hairpin bends, and it’s one of the most popular climbs around Treviso. It made its debut this year on the Pinarello Granfondo route.

 

The Passo San Boldo. Image: Wikipedia

 

284 – Minutes. The time it took for 2015 champion Luigi Salimbeni to finish the Maratona.

851 – Kilometres ridden by guests on our Maratona/La Pina double header trip.

21,100 – Total metres climbed by each rider in 11 days.

Cheers!

 

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