mbria, Italy is great for a bike tour.
If you haven't ridden a bike here before, there are a few habits that Italian road users have that probably differ from where you normally ride your bike.
Here are a few key pointers.
1. Cycling in Italy and particularly in Umbria is hugely popular and on the whole, fellow road users are very considerate to cyclists. Guests comment all the time. Of course, it only takes one idiot to spoil your day. Ride within your limits, ride safely and ride your bike with confidence.
2. The Horn - Italians use the car horn liberally. As you cycle along, some drivers may 'honk the horn' as they approach you from behind. It’s just to let you know that they are coming. It is not that you are doing anything wrong. Give them a friendly wave to acknowledge their considerate behaviour.
3. Flashing Headlights - In some countries, flashing car headlights is often used as a courtesy signal. It can mean that the driver flashing you is offering to let you go first. In Italy, the exact opposite is true. Flashing headlights in Italy means, 'I'm coming through/I have right of way/Get out of my way'.
4. Giving Way to the Right - Older car drivers tend to use this rule which is sometimes seen on traffic roundabouts/circles. You'll approach the roundabout/circle and the car already on the roundabout/circle stops to allow you on. He is in the wrong. If you experience this, allow the driver on the roundabout/circle to carry on.
5. Merging - When approaching a T junction where you need to stop and turn left, you may see a central section of the road marked out to your left. The idea is that you can turn left, take up position in the central lane and then wait for a gap in the traffic before merging into the flow. When merging onto a main road - on ramp - the traffic into which you are merging will not give way. You are expected to wait until there is a gap in the traffic.
6. Road Conditions - Umbrian roads have a very hard life: very hot summers (40C) and very cold winters (-15C), heavy rainfall and storms, mountains that move, landslides, subsidence; the quieter minor roads are also the roads that are likely to be lower down the list of priorities when it comes to maintenance. Please be ready for pot holes and uneven surfaces.
7. Weather & the Roads - heavy storms often cause 'storm wash' across the road. Wet leaves, gravel and sand can be found washed across the road, often on or just after corners following a storm.
8. What to Carry with You - While riding a bike, you should carry the following with you at all times: Passport, Insurance documentation, cash for the day, credit/debit cards, change of clothing to anticipate changes in weather.
9. Riding in Hot Weather - whizzing along the Umbrian valleys in hot conditions may not be your norm and therefore, you probably won’t recognise that you are losing fluid (sweating…) far more rapidly than you think. The 'drying effect' of the breeze is surprising. Always ensure that you have water/fluids with you and make sure that you drink regularly.
10. eBike Battery Charging - hospitality in Italy and Umbria in particular, is amazing. Any cafe, bar, or restaurant will happily allow you to re-charge your eBike battery. Make sure that you have an adapter - power points in Italy are few and far between and the shape and size a mystery to most … !!!
Oh, and do avail yourself of the bar/cafe/restaurant services!!
11. The Up's & Down's - the wide, long valleys of Umbria are surrounded by long gentle climbs and descents. The climbs on an eBike are extremely manageable but it is often the descents that the casual cyclist struggles with. Top Tips: a) keep a steady constant speed in the decent. b) When taking a corner in a descent, make sure that you reach the entry of the corner with the speed at which you want to take the corner. Don’t brake heavily in the turn. c) Use both the front and back brake evenly to control your speed. d) Avoid grabbling the brakes sharply. NOTE: 70-80% of your stopping power comes from the front brake.
12. How to Take a Corner - when taking a corner put the outside pedal down. So when you are taking a left hand corner, your right pedal should be at the bottom of its arch. At the same time apply pressure to the pedal. Obviously the opposite is true for right hand corners. Don’t be afraid to press down hard on the pedal, it will help you around the corner.
BONUS TIP 1:
Look where you want to go, i.e. don’t look at the pothole look at the track alongside it!
BONUS TIP 2:
Be friendly! Wave and shout 'Salve' (hello) to fellow bike riders; wave and acknowledge other road users who have made considerate moves; offer a Buongiorno to folks walking along the roadside.