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Tuscany & Umbria 

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by Allan Nelson & Konrad Orlowski  


  Route planning

  The bikes

  Packing bikes

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  To the Airport

  At Pisa Airport

Allan Konrad and I have known each other for many years through our daughters who are best of friends at school. We have one other thing in common, we both love cycling. Konrad enjoys touring, photography and the like, where I was more into time-trials and no panniers, though the time-trialling has been ‘dormant’ for a few years.
I keep my hand in by riding to work most days, a 32 or 36-mile round trip depending on the route I take, from Ulverston in Cumbria to Grange-Over-Sands.

We both do regular rides in and around the Lake District, and Konrad, who has retired early from teaching, has been known to do the occasional tour of Scotland.


I remember the day well. It was Friday 2nd January 1998, and I'd drawn the short straw for going in to work that first day after the Christmas break. I had just come in from my daily ride to work – soaking wet, cold and totally p*****d off, and the phone rang.

It was Konrad saying that he was having trouble with his computer and could I come round some time and have a look at it.  It turned out it was nothing too drastic, and we got chatting.  I complained about the awful ride in to work, and how I was fed up of being wet. I started to reminisce about the previous year’s family holiday in Italy, when I’d hired a bike for a day and done around 60km to San Marino and back. "I’d love to take my bike over there and tour around" I said. "I can still feel the warmth on my legs". "Do you fancy it?"

I seem to recall Konrad’s first response was to start phoning for air tickets, or it might have been to open a bottle of red wine, to get in the mood. I was a little more cautious. I had to get this one past my wife first! Not that my wife, Anne, is awkward you understand. It was all to do with family circumstances. We had a son, Adam, with severe cerebral palsy, who needed constant care, and it would be a lot of work for her to be looking after him on her own for 2 weeks. Anne agreed, bless her, and the trip was on.


Around 6 weeks before our trip, my son Adam died at the age of 18, which was a terrible shock to us all. I was all for cancelling the trip, but Anne insisted I go, and I thank her deeply for that.