With melting snow signaling the rapidly approaching spring season, we made tracks for California to rack up some base miles with the team from inGamba.
Andiamo - Italian verb \än-dē-ä-m ō\:
let’s go, a declaration of intent to move
It’s debatable whether riding season ever really ends, but for us, a season typically starts with a journey. We follow our hearts to warmer climes, compelled to act by a desire to find lost form and motivated by the knowledge that friends and rivals are doing the same. Tarmac, sunshine, and camaraderie are on the agenda, but at their core, these voyages are about getting a fresh start and setting the tone for the season ahead.
The excitement builds as you pull on your bibs. The work will come soon enough, but right now it’s the anticipation that’s sharply in focus. There’s a moment of pause as you buckle your shoes, but the hesitation melts away with the first step out the door. It’s time to go.
It begins with a quick warm up spin to the coffee shop. The aroma of freshly ground beans hits you as you walk in the door, promising a strong espresso and the requisite fuel for giddy pre-ride banter. Capillaries dilate with the rush of caffeine. The gruppetto is ready to roll.
It takes a moment for your eyes to adjust as you step through the door and into the sunlight. You throw your leg over your bike, greeted by a familiar snap as your cleats find your pedals. The gruppetto rolls out, slowly at first. Pace yourself. There will be plenty of time to go hard.
Full-Gas - Adjective \fol·gas\:
exerting maximum effort; as fast as possible
As far as winter riding destinations are concerned, California is one of our hands-down favorites. That’s especially true of Paso Robles. Stage 5 of the Tour of California has finished there twice to date, but the real draws are the idyllic wine country, windswept coastline, and unforgiving mountain passes that punctuate the northernmost boundary of So Cal. With the roads providing endless opportunities to drop the hammer, and the vineyards and restaurants offering up sensational post-ride fare, Paso Robles makes a fitting base camp for getting in some early-season miles.
The tarmac winds upwards, the pitch gentle but unrelenting. By now the blood is flowing, and your breathing complements your cadence. Conversations drift in and out as riders rotate through the gruppetto. As the road climbs, the pitch steepens, and the conversations halt, replaced with labored breaths and razor-sharp focus.
In the rare moments that the climb relents, your eyes can’t help but be drawn to the surroundings. California is ever-changing, a fact that’s inescapable on a ride. Fog gives way to rain, and then the sun peeks through the clouds. The passing landscape is awe-inspiring, no matter the weather.
When the conversations resume, the language barrier isn’t much of a barrier at all. Hand signals and foreign vocabulary bridge the gap, while warm smiles and friendly smack talk makes fast friends of new acquaintances. We push onward together, and it’s clear that this gruppetto is learning to work as a team.
Gruppetto - Noun \grü'pet(,)ō\:
a little group; a group of racers working
together to beat a cut-off time
Our crew was comprised of Competitive Cyclist Gearheads and our friends at inGamba tours, who generously offered to show us around. We all race, so naturally we were eager to jump in with a crew that includes veteran domestiques and legitimate superstars. Each of them is gracious, confident, and poised. They’re also fast. So fast. The very definition of pro.
These Gearheads are racers, so their vying for position is to be expected. It takes time to learn one’s place in the pack. The competitive nature enhances the feeling of camaraderie. Each countered attack reveals newfound respect for their colleagues. These bonds, forged on the road, will be with us long after the ride is over.
The Rouleur. Gearhead extraordinaire, unshakeable no matter the circumstances. You’d never guess based off her riding that she’s the greenest racer of the bunch.
The Instigator. Sales Manager, time trialist, and tattoo enthusiast. His salty language befits his straight-shooter personality, and it comes in handy when it’s time to rally the troops.
The Powerhouse. Former Customer Account Manager turned Assistant Clothing Buyer. She’s quick to crack a smile, plus she’s got serious pull and quick reflexes honed over years of crit racing.
Gearheads like Sarah, Todd, and Reiley are the experts at the core of Competitive Cyclist’s sales and customer service.
Call a Gearhead at 1-888-276-7130, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are untold decades of experience between the entire inGamba crew. It’s clear in their carefully considered kits, their incredible steadiness, their reflexive handling skills. Despite their obvious pro-ness, they’re quick to share a tip or a word of encouragement. There’s much to be learned from riding in their company.
The Superstar. Mont Ventoux stage winner, veteran Pinarello brand ambassador, and unlikely climber. His giant stature suits his personality—incomparable panache with classic Italian showmanship.
The Comedian. Seasoned pro, exceptional soigneur, and favorite son of Portugal. He sounds like Don Corleone and his comedic timing is perfect, but there’s hard-won wisdom under his playful demeanor.
The Perfectionist. Two-time Portugese champion, WorldTour race winner, and quietly calculating. He’s recently retired from the Pro life, and his handling skills are proof that he has most definitely still got it.
The Aficionado. inGamba sales specialist, Bike Haus fixture, and Eros’s designated taste tester. He’s keenly observant, always welcoming, and possesses a wealth of knowledge about all things inGamba.
The Workhorse. Retired racer and Pro Tour mechanic. After sustaining a career-ending knee injury, he’s following in his father’s footsteps by supporting some of cycling’s biggest stars.
The Transporter. Team driver, soigneur, and rally enthusiast. Beneath his tough exterior, he’s gracious, friendly, and incredibly nerdy about bikes. He also has a knack for finding tractors in times of great need.
inGamba’s mission is to give customers the best of the pro experience through premium bicycle tours in the world’s most beautiful riding destinations.
Learn more at inGamba.pro.
Bananas - Adjective \be'nanes\:
unbelievable or wild; exceeding one’s expectations
A new season often means new gear, so we took this trip as an opportunity to test some of the year’s finest new products. We selected key pieces from a few of our favorite brands, then we put them to the test in the full range of California’s spring conditions. Saying we were impressed would be a massive understatement.
Pinarello Dogma F10
SRAM Red ETap / Zipp 404 NSW Complete Road Bike
We thought we’d experienced perfection courtesy of the world beating Dogma F8, but its successor proved us woefully incorrect. The new Dogma F10 is every bit the superbike that its grand tour-dominating predecessor is, made even more stable, comfortable, and refined.
Our crew was enamored of the range of apparel supplied by Giordana. From the low-key style of the Sosta line, to the hard-nosed FormaRed line, every single piece delivered on its promise of excellence, and a few of them have earned permanent spots in our crew members’ wardrobes.
Kask Protone / Giro Synthe
When it comes to head protection, there’s no shortage of opinions, but the helmets supplied by Kask and Giro quickly became favorites. The sleek Synthe and sculpted Protone both offer fantastic ventilation and aerodynamic efficiency with modern good looks to match.
Fi'zi:k R1B UOMO
When you’re putting in the miles, no piece of equipment is more important than your footwear. Period. Which is why we were so happy to receive Fi’zi:k’s top tier R1B Uomo shoe for our trip. They’re forget-you’re-wearing-them comfortable, and very classy to boot.