Joao is a friend and former teammate of mine on Bissell, then two years later alongside me at the Cervelo Test Team. I’ve been practicing my trans-Atlantic jet setting, so in the midst of changing apartments in Italy this past week I had the chance to make my way down to Siena and partake in a few days of the eponymous Fat Man Tours.
As a very good friend of Joao’s, I actually knew very little of what exactly lay in store for my time with FMT, but I knew vehemently that whatever adventures I would stumble upon would inevitably tip the enjoyment scale towards the positive. So with only the mildest bit of apprehension I gassed up the jet and headed to Siena!
Allow the title to marinate for a minute, Fat Man Tours. And certainly be sure to marinate it in plenty of freshly pressed olive oil, some crushed vine ripened local tomatoes, rich and fragrant rosemary, and a healthy pinch of salt. And maybe a side of lardo. (In no particular order, a smattering of comestibles and experiences over the past few days for you to absorb while you marinate that title a bit longer…)
Like I said, I know Joao well. I know his naturally smooth gait on a bicycle is only paralleled by his naturally magnetic pull towards rich, delicious Italian food. And wine. Don’t kid yourself, this isn’t a bike tour throughout Italy. Rather it leans much more closely to a food and wine tour with a dash of cycling tossed across the Tuscan countryside. The true mystique of Joao, however, is that he doesn’t introduce you to tasty local dinner at a corner restaurant – rather he first introduces you to la Nona, the grandmother, who warmly welcomes you to her multigenerational osteria, before ducking behind the kitchen doors to prepare the simple yet exquisite masterpiece that just took your breath away. This is certainly not your cookie cutter bike tour; this is as authentic as it gets.
And you’re not just riding with a bunch of Joeys and Freds. Allow myself to brag… about myself. In addition to food worthy of a king, pun intended, the FMT also allows you the privilege to ride with such exemplary professionals as myself and my friend and the cycling Jesus lookalike, Laurens Ten Dam of Rabobank.
Although in truth, some of us are still chasing the healthy greens of a salad bowl rather than the luscious aforementioned lardo. Note the San Pellegrino water in the background. Wine was abundant at lunch, although I abstemiously declined (to save room for dinner).
No matter who is pushing the pace, myself, Laurens, Joao, Colin, Grahamo, Bruce, or others, cafe stops are necessary which fulfilled the need for healthy banter and playful razzing – in case anyone gets lost on the trip. A rarity, but always a possibility.
Yes, we do go for bike rides now and again, and it’s actually no wonder people get lost since all signs, beautiful as they are in Chianti, point to the right.
Additionally we ripped some stradi bianchi, white roads of l’Eroica fame, complete with postcard worthy view and a flat tire. Narrow clinchers aren’t exactly in their native habitat in this stuff, but the corresponding scenery and general experience of the adventure more than made up for it.
I’m particularly fond of this photo below since it shows my handsome and awesome Cannondale SuperSix EVO decked out in American regalia hugged by an envious Italian groupset, left and an overpriced Italian frame, right.
I did find time to buy my brother a birthday present… umm, I suppose this blog post might damper the surprise depending on when Robbie reads this. Although his birthday was in March and since we haven’t gone out to the previously planned birthday dinner these past six months, I think these authentic and extraordinary tastes from Chianti may suffice.
Meanwhile, others boarded the Chinese made, vastly underpowered, yet astutely titled HOVER craft and went shopping at Gucci. I was entertained and educated by the this shopping expedition, but was truthfully a bit upset that I couldn’t find a Gucci bag shiny nor sequined enough for my liking.
So now not quite a half dozen days later, I’ve escaped the Fat Man Tours mysteriously more svelte than I arrived. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire escape from reality, the riding, the dining, the remarkable company, and the entire experience. Thanks FMT, that was a blast.