Riding every kilometre (REK) of a Grand Tour is a bucket list achievement for anyone brave enough to attempt it

Jack Butler

Chris Monette

Feb / 15 / 2024

It is hard to comprehend what an amazing thing we are able to be a part of. While many of our riders are keen to take on the Giro d'Italia and “Ride Every Kilometre” many also decide to choose our “Experience” tours and ride fewer kilometres with extra spare time to watch the pro cyclists do their thing! However, embarking on another day of the Giro d’Italia, the early morning start is a reminder of the unique challenge we've taken on – riding the same stage as the professional cyclists on the exact same day, just ahead of them.

Our days start early to give us the best headstart possible against the professional riders who seem to effortlessly eat up the kilometres behind us. On this kind of trip you really can begin to have an appreciation for the power and speed of a professional cyclist compared to even strong amateurs, a stage that takes them 4 hours could take us up to 8! You may think, how is it possible that amateurs are even able to take on a challenge like this? The secret, as with the pros, is a good team around you. Having a support vehicle there for you every step of the way means that everything is easy. Need more food, water, clothes, or have a mechanical issue? No problem. Of course, also the pre preparation makes a big difference also, as we send out training recommendations before the tour and the ‘REK’ training guide.

The ultimate challenge of the Giro d'Italia REK is riding all 21 stages; not many guests take on this challenge. However, riding for just one week, for example, Week 1, which starts in Torino and includes 11 days touring stages 1 to 9, or Week 2 - covering Pompeii, the Adriatic Coast, & Livigno over 8 days and riding stages 10 to 15, is also quite challenging, believe me.

As we settle into the days a rhythm begins to appear. An early start and an amazing breakfast to start fueling for the day ahead. As we roll out, often the mornings are cool and everyone is layered up to begin with. As the ride continues into the afternoon and we cover more and more kilometres the support team are checking the progress of the Giro d'Italia Pro riders behind us. Everyone is now enjoying riding in the Italian sun in our own mini peloton.

At this point we are normally the only cyclists or vehicles on the roads as the route is closed by police on every junction. The Italian “Carabinieri” wear their iconic dress uniform and boots and wave only us through the closed roads, being an official tour operator gives us these rare privileges. At this point the crowds are usually already gathering by the roads in the towns and villages. It’s common that as we round the corner into a small town that the crowd erupts into cheers as they are expecting the professional racers to be arriving! We quite happily receive the applause despite the crowds usually quickly realising that we are perhaps not the iconic cycling stars they thought.

It’s quite uncommon that the pro riders catch up to our group, but it can happen. Especially on the stages with huge total metres climbed. When we see the lead of the race it’s time to move over and watch the experts fly past us. Just like that they shoot past and we are allowed to continue on the same route as them and with the same mission.

As we reach the end of the day and ride everyone feels a great sense of achievement and a great sense of hunger! Being in Italy is of course amazing for the iconic roads and the natural beauty, but fantastic Italian food is really the cherry on top of it all. After a transfer in the support vehicle to the next hotel everyone comes together for a group dinner and can review the day. A lot of laughs and good times are to be had here, as this is when the group can really come together and bond over the common goal we all have on these epic tours.