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.
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.