On October 1st, I join the team at Ciclismo Classico, a leader in adventure travel.
I’m as excited as I could be about this opportunity. It will allow me to combine two of my great passions – cycling and travel – into my career, and who could ask for more than that? And on top of that, I’ll be working with two of my oldest friends (Lauren and Mauro), who I’ve known for almost 20 years.
I met them way back in 1988 when I was looking for a place to live. When I spotted a flyer with drawings of bikes and Italian scenes about a room for rent in a Somerville house, I knew it was for me. That’s how I ended as house-mates with Lauren and Mauro, but my fascination with cycling and Italy really came to be a couple years before that.
I was not very organized at all when I was in college. So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise when Thanksgiving arrived during my junior year and I still hadn’t applied for a program abroad for the spring semester. I was studying German, and I really wanted to go to Germany or Austria – but I missed the deadlines for every one of the programs. Fortunately, though, my college ran a program in Rome, and I made it in with days to spare. Of course, I didn’t know anything about Italy and spoke no Italian, but I wasn’t deterred – it was bound to be an improvement over Hartford!
Despite my lack of knowledge going in, I had a perfectly wonderful time in Rome. Sure, I enjoyed my classes and my buddies and I had a nice time drinking wine in the Forum. But the best times were on my bike. While most of my classmates spent their time surrounded by other Americans and speaking English, a couple of us had brought our bikes along and ventured further afield. We headed out of town most weekends and had all manner of adventures. We eventually met someone who invited us to join his racing team, and we had lots of fun riding with him (though we never actually managed to compete in a race, somehow). The really wonderful thing was that it forced us to start speaking Italian and become comfortable in a foreign culture – something many of our classmates never managed to do.
That was really the start of it all for me. And that’s why I begged Lauren to let me work with her and Mauro leading tours for Ciclismo Classico during the first year of the company. That summer was another great adventure. I drove the big red Fiat van (I did get to ride my bike a bit, though). Lauren, Mauro and I spent days before each tour planning and marking routes, then I would shuttle clients’ luggage from one destination to the next. Even from behind the wheel of the furgone rosso, I could recognize the power of the experience Ciclismo was providing, and I was sure that the company would ultimately succeed.
A few years later, I was able to experience Ciclismo Classico from another vantage point: as a client. I was living in London, and a week on a bike in Italy was a perfect getaway for me (and an easy one, with flights many Italian destinations lasting only a couple hours!). By 1994, the company had been transformed: everything was much smoother and more professional than I’d remembered, and the trips I did (Elba and Sardegna) were completely blissful. I met delightful, interesting people that I’m still in touch with almost 15 years later, and my memories of those trips are still as clear as the waters surrounding L’Isola d’Elba.
When the draw of family led us back to the US in 2006, Lauren was the first person I called for advice on where to live. We dropped in for a visit, and Lauren felt compelled to make her case for us moving to Arlington by putting me on a bike and riding a ways up the Minuteman Bikeway with me. That’s a trait that she and I most definitely have in common: when we’re passionate about something, we can’t keep it to ourselves – we have to share it. That’s part of what’s made Ciclismo Classico the success that it is, and that’s also why I’m so excited about this role: I can’t wait to share my passions with others and enable them to experience the personal transformation that cycle touring can create.