Riviera Bike – a review…

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  • Riviera Bike – a review…
  • wrecker
    Member

    Now, it has to be said that Jo, Ady’s other half was ill and back in the UK,

    This was the problem. I cannot speak highly enough of Jo. Not only a great organiser, but a truly lovely woman who tries her level best to ensure that everyone enjoys their trip. We did wonder what it would have been like without Jo. Looks like you found out…..
    Rich and Cri are brilliant.
    “want some grappa, cri?”
    “NO!”
    “why not? you don’t like grappa?”
    “yes. I like. This is problem!”

    Premier Icon Leku
    Subscriber

    Good write up. I went a year ago and would agree – great riding but ‘herded by cats’ at times…

    Premier Icon scotroutes
    Subscriber

    If Elaine didn’t get the holiday she paid for she should ask for a refund.

    Premier Icon unklehomered
    Subscriber

    Yeah matches our findings a little bit, but I would, and indeed desperately want, to go back. For the riding. Found the guiding a little annoying, seemed like they were on a ride and you had been allowed to tag along, as opposed to paying quite a lot for the service…

    Premier Icon Nobeerinthefridge
    Subscriber

    We’re off there in July, riding sounds awesome, as does the food, so that’s 90% of the holiday, I can handle a bit of disorganisation, it is Italy after all!. Shame your better half want catered for, that’s a bit rough. There are 5 of us going, and were all of a similar level, so hopefully shouldn’t be much of an issue.

    plumber
    Member

    The only bike holiday I dream of doing again

    JonEdwards
    Member

    Aye, Rich and Cri were good value.

    Here’s a (one of many) “group bum the mechanic” moment. From top to bottom Cri, Rich, Rhys, Jaap, Harry…

    Heh heh they still get muddled over garage keys. Naturally they don’t like entrusting keys to guests, but neither are they always at your beck and call. I didn’t notice the side-door until mid-week lol!

    Sounds like they were short-handed compared to my experience last Autumn. Jo is Ady’s secret weapon. Hope she’s OK.

    You’re spot-on about the trails: they don’t suit timid riders. You’re best practising riding UK DH trails on a trail bike to get used to the steepness you encounter all the time there. And I think we mainly stuck to the easier trails!

    JonEdwards
    Member

    I know some of you were interested in a review of Riviera Bike, so having just got back from a week there, here goes….

    The short version – amazing singletrack descents for the hardcore rider, amazing pizza & pasta, Italianate organisation.

    The long version:-

    Riding.
    We were booked on the “All Mountain” package, as opposed to the “Shuttle & Descend” week. As such we expected to do a fair amount of pedalling, and had set our bikes up accordingly. Practically however, it was all uplifted – the longest climb we did was maybe 30 minutes of easy fire road, and there was maybe a 2 or 3 minute easy spin to the top of some trails. From my point of view, this was great, and bar needing to swap my LUST rear tyre for a dual ply, my Rocket was faultless. Elaine’s Hemlock, 4” travel, single ply 2.1 tyres, 180/160 brakes was very much undergunned.

    The trails themselves were amazing – the easiest descent we did reminded me of a sandier version of the 423 or Black run at Aston Hill (but many times longer), and there were an awful lot of never-ending runs down steep, twisty, naturally bermed gullys. Some bonkers rock gardens, plenty of natural steps and drops (nothing bigger than a couple of feet) a few built features, all there to keep you on your toes. The terrain is VERY steep, so loads of hairpins, and near-constant exposure (the trails were often not “dangerous” per se, but the consequences of leaving the trail would be very severe…. I absolutely loved it – Agrifolio, Bellender, Borello(sp?), all simply brilliant top to bottom, and having mixed in with a great group of riders (cheers, Harry, Rhys, Jaap, Herbie, plus guide Rich) we ended up having a really great time. For Elaine though, a lot of it was not her cup of tea – more on this later.

    Uplifts were efficient and well organised. Driver Cri, being a local was great at smoothing the way, and for an Italian, a remarkably confidence inspiring driver. Top geezer, and always happy to go the extra step – got the makings of a top notch guide too!

    Hotel & Food.
    Accommodation at Santo Spirito was fine – the rooms were a bit poky, if I’m picking holes, but perfectly adequate. Breakfast was OK – slightly prefab, compared to the other food, although the coffee was obviously up to scratch. Evening meals though, oh my god – bloody marvellous – 5 courses each and every night. The pasta, pizza and gnocchi were just unbelievably good. Add in large lunches (pizzerias, and a couple of stunning restaurants), plus very little climbing, and for the first time ever I was getting truly sick of having yet MORE food put in front of me! But it was all so good, you just carried on troughing…

    Mariachiara who fronts Santo Spirito was incredible in the face of loudly drunken Englishmen (and Dutchmen!) on holiday. Constantly on the go, great sense of humour and the patience of a saint. It helped that one of our group was half Italian, but even so – an absolute star.

    Organisation.
    This is where it starts to get a bit ropey. Communication between Riviera and its guests was pretty poor, and the guests from the other 2 groups who crossed over with us had the same opinion. Here’s a couple of examples:-

    The day off, it took us the best part of an hour to get into the bike store, because the 4×4 was parked across the doorway (an understandable security precaution). Ady’s phone was off (battery had gone flat, good planning, eh?), and when I eventually found him, he didn’t have a key, but he sent me round to Rich’s house to get him out of bed and get the key off him. No interest in actually sorting the problem himself.

    Later that day, we wanted to get back into the hotel. Door was locked, so we have to change our plans. Later I see Ady. “oh, don’t you know about the side door?”. No, because nobody has told us.

    On the Friday night, by 18.30 we still don’t know when our transfer is the next day. Rich doesn’t know, so I go hunting Ady again. “Oh we’re only doing 1 transfer tomorrow, leaving at 07.30”. Our flight, which we’d told him about at time of booking wasn’t until 21.45 and we’d hoped to get some riding in beforehand. “I can drop you off at San Remo train station in the afternoon” (train to Nice, bus to Nice airport). I go back and talk to E, and we decide to take the AM transfer rather than have to fight with the luggage on public transport. So we pile into bike packing. An hour later, when we’re late for dinner and still in stinking bike kit, he walks into the bike store and announces that he’ll do an evening transfer as well… Great, but why not just say that in the first place? That’s another chunk of riding time wasted building the bikes back up again!

    On the face of it, none of this is a big deal, but over the course of the week, it adds up to a lot of faffing and fannying, add in another big issue (see below), and it got really quite frustrating. All the organisational stuff could have been solved very easily by having a simple A4 fact sheet given to each guest at the beginning of their stay, detailing the basic plan for the week. Hotel info, what happens on the day off & the evening meal that day. When the bike store will be locked and unlocked. Safety and emergency info (of which there was zilch) etc.

    Now, it has to be said that Jo, Ady’s other half was ill and back in the UK, and if she normally deals with the organisation and logistics, then it might usually work out better. But she wasn’t, and it was mostly just left floating, until we, the guests, forced the issue.

    Guiding
    This is the biggie. From past experience Elaine and I know that being put in the same riding group, simply does not work. The kind of trail that gives me the horn, is not something that she’s happy even walking down, and the kind of riding that she likes is a bit mundane for my tastes. So when we booked we specifically asked if we could be guided in separate groups, and we were assured that this could happen – we booked the trip on this premise.

    So it was far from ideal for the 2 of us to get added into a group of 4 very good riders. I was OK, but E was out of her depth for most of the time. The other guys were very good about not complaining about the waiting, but it was largely up to me to hang back and make sure she hadn’t missed a turning or gone over the edge. Tuesday, we had an extra guide, and that worked very well, but as we went through the week and the trails got gnarlier, she got to ride less and less, culminating in her being able to ride about 20% of Friday’s trails – 30% was a walk, the rest of the runs she either had to sit out in the van or ride down on tarmac. Absolutely no effort made to tailor the riding to her abilities at all – especially annoying, when by her standards, she was actually riding rather well.

    Now obviously the plan *had* been that she would ride with Jo, but in Jo’s absence (quote from Ady “oh we’re a bit short handed this week”), zero effort was made to find a solution, and given Elaine had paid a lot of money to be treated like a second class citizen, she was (and still is) hugely unhappy with the whole thing.

    So there we go. If you’re a good rider with a large appetite, do it. If you’re not, well, I’d be a little bit wary. I may well go back (some of those trails are just too damn good to miss). As it stands Elaine may well not… A shame, as it would be so easy to put right.

    catvet
    Member

    We went out there 2 years ago, on 140 trail bikes and really enjoyed it, put my wife through 6 weeks of training before hand, and for her ( not a regular bike rider) she found some of the trails tough( but we are mid 50s) I thought they were great, poss slightly under biked, but you just have
    To use better skills!!
    Very ad hoc and slightly disorganised, but that seemed part of the charm of it.
    Possibly some of the best natural gravity single track trails I have ever ridden. Lets face it many of them are used for the Italian super enduro series so they are going to be challenging!!

    This was the problem. I cannot speak highly enough of Jo. Not only a great organiser, but a truly lovely woman who tries her level best to ensure that everyone enjoys their trip. We did wonder what it would have been like without Jo. Looks like you found out…..

    +1

    Went two years ago and loved the trails – some of the best riding I’ve had the pleasure of riding – and found Jo to be a great host. Ady seemed keener on trail development with the locals in the area – no bad thing – but a people person he ain’t. Fortunately he didn’t join us that much.

    catvet
    Member

    We were lucky for 2 of the days , we were the only guests and so had undivided attention !! Ady was great one coastal ride day. Jo, well she is just a gem!!
    I have met them in the uk as well, and it is all the infrastructure that is the tricky part. The pink bike correspondent Matt Wragg was guiding as well when we were out there and he was great fun.
    Would I go again, in a heart beat, the problem is that it has become very popular and is difficult to get the weeks required.

    hora
    Member

    Serious question. I never book a package holiday.

    Same with biking. Especially after my one experience (allmountainlodge).

    Would it be better (apart from booking guides) to plan your own holiday OP?

    My next bike jaunt will be Andorra.

    Premier Icon mattbee
    Subscriber

    I’ve known Ady for 18 years and Jo for as long as they have been together. He’s a lovely bloke but I’m sure he’d admit himself not the most organised at the best of times. He’s the messy desk with piles of stuff everywhere kinda guy, Jo is the organiser.
    Not only does jo being ill affect the organisation somewhat in that way but I’m sure it’s also hard for Ady worrying about her too.
    Not an excuse, but something to think about. I’m sure he’ll be upset to hear you didn’t have as great a time as you could have. You have contacted him with your concerns, haven’t you?

    Premier Icon easygirl
    Subscriber

    Wishing jo a speedy recovery
    We went with them when f*****g raaaaay was with hem had a great time, then even reset my mates heart when it stuck on full bore, well the doctors did!

    Would agree with the disorganised bit, the riding was very challenging for me, but enjoyed the small village atmosphere, raaaaayyyy and the riding

    Premier Icon Cheezpleez
    Subscriber

    Molini is my fave place to ride in the world. I forgive them a bit of chaos because it’s so good. Ady deserves kudos for developing the trails

    Premier Icon unklehomered
    Subscriber

    raaaaayyyy is gone?

    Awwww, that makes me sad. He was ace.

    Serious question. I never book a package holiday.

    Same with biking. Especially after my one experience (allmountainlodge).

    Would it be better (apart from booking guides) to plan your own holiday OP?

    My next bike jaunt will be Andorra.

    my experience is that (good) guides are worth their weight in gold. For a start they save you hours of examining maps and GPS co-ordinates to find trails that *might* be decent.

    mtbtomo
    Member

    It does depend who else is on the holiday at that time. Have been twice – the first time me and my two mates were towards the front of the group whilst one of the other lads we didn’t know held back for his missus. The second trip, the trails went up a notch and we were in with some fast lads, so we were way off the back. But we managed and still enjoyed it (till I skinned the side of my right thigh when I bailed at speed and had to use a combination of random dressings bought in San Remo on the rest day 😥

    Both times, it was laid back and possibly a bit disorganised but its a holiday and maybe something more regimented would probably detract from the atmosphere? The riding was amazing though and its the only foreign biking place I’ve been back to. Jo missing would have made a big difference – she has a very soothing and cajoling calm if you’re struggling.

    If you have complaints then ping them a polite email, they’d probably be keen to get it right – there is a returning customer discount anyhow – and they do have easier trails near the coast (Andorra – the Italian one that is -sp?).

    stealthcat
    Member

    OK; a few more comments.

    We didn’t go for arranging it ourselves and hiring a guide locally for 2 reasons – firstly, we’d have had to hire a guide each, and secondly, we’d prefer someone else to arrange the transfers/accommodation for us, as neither of us speaks much Italian.

    I probably would go back again – I understand that Jo being ill caused a few problems, so I’d be prepared to give them another try, on the basis that if it didn’t work out second time around, I’d catch a few uplifts and otherwise ride solo on some of the trails we rode this time round. Not all of the trails were beyond me, and some I think I’d enjoy a lot more now I know what’s there, so I’d be fairly happy riding them on my own.

    I think in some ways I was just unlucky – Jo being away and the rest of the group being way out of my league – but there were things that could have been done better. On Friday, I was initially told that it would be a long enduro-type trail down on the coast, but Rich decided the rest of the group would enjoy other trails more, so I ended up spending a lot of the day in the van, while the rest of the group had a great day. If I’d been told what the riding was going to be like, I’d have stayed local and had a better time of it, even if I did have to pedal up the hills.

    As Jon mentioned in his first post, we did say when we booked that we don’t ride together because we don’t enjoy the same things, and I did talk to both Ady and Rich about this at various points. To be fair, I had a really good day when they had a spare guide, and Rich rode with me and gave me some coaching, but when the next group turned up, I was back with the rest of the group, riding (or not) the trails that they wanted to ride, with Jon marking junctions so I knew where to go. I didn’t see much of Rich on Thursday and Friday, and got rather too many of the trail descriptions second-hand through one of the other guests over those 2 days, which didn’t help my confidence much. By the sound of it, Rich was right that I wouldn’t have liked the trails he wouldn’t take me on, but being told to either stay in the van or go down the road was pretty depressing, to be honest. I can appreciate that the other guys had a right to do trails they thought of as fun, but I’d paid for my holiday as well…

    I’d agree with Jon on the food, and on the patience of the hotel staff, but there were two things at the hotel that left me slightly underwhelmed. We had to change rooms midweek because the room we were in originally could be used as a twin room and they needed it for the group who arrived midweek – a fairly minor annoyance, but it did mean we had to pack everything up so we could be sure it all got moved ok. More of an issue was the fact that the room we were moved into had obviously had a dog staying in it recently, and it hadn’t been very well cleaned since then. Anything that went on the floor got covered with dog hair, and there was a big clump of hair under the bed, which looked as though the owner had pulled it out of the brush after grooming the dog, and the staff hadn’t swept under the bed.

    On the other hand, Maria did produce pizza for breakfast one day (at our request!) and icecream and strawberries another morning, as well as sending us off with a loaf of bread to keep us going until we got home on Saturday. And almost all of the food was amazing – but the snails were a mistake.

    hora
    Member

    Pimpy you can also buy into organised rides?

    Premier Icon Nobeerinthefridge
    Subscriber

    Stealthcat, fair dos for not going into a moaning rant, lots of others would have done. Hopefully a one off, but when you fork out a reasonably large wedge, you’re right to expect a bit better. I suppose losing a guide or someone like Jo is a bit of a nightmare for holiday outfits, one that you can get away within groups are of a similar riding ability, but if they aren’t, then this is what can happen.

    The riding does sound excellent!.

    barn
    Member

    wow! thorough review!
    you should be a writer.

    Have some sympathy for the company here – hard to accommodate just one person with specific requirements when there are only a couple of uplift vans/guides – I’d imagine that hinged entirely on the guide who was ill, and without her, it was a choice between disappointing a vanload of people, or just one person – the OP’s Mrs. Just an unfortunate one all round, I guess, although “Ady’s a bit disorganised” isn’t enough of an excuse for an unprofessional setup, regardless of who’s sick – he should have been picking up the slack better.

    alpin
    Member

    not really selling it, is it?

    i’d be inclined to ask for either a part refund or perhaps better a hefty discount if you go with them again, but on the condition that if the same things spoil your trip they refund what you paid.

    personally, i would look at booking your own accomodation and buying a map of the area (must be plenty of websites with GPS tracks). you can still join up on the odd day or use the shuttle service of the local company, but you are free of the group politics and you can ride your pace without feeling stressed.

    trains are usually very cheap in Italy and seem to still sun to the more remote places, IME.

    alpin
    Member

    honourablegeorge – Member

    Have some sympathy for the company here – hard to accommodate just one person with specific requirements when there are only a couple of uplift vans/guides –

    not really…. the OP and his missus have paid for their time as out there as well and should have been accomodated. a a good guide doesn’t ride the trails he wants to ride, he takes the guests on trails that they want to ride…

    alpin – Member
    honourablegeorge – Member

    not really…. the OP and his missus have paid for their time as out there as well and should have been accomodated. a a good guide doesn’t ride the trails he wants to ride, he takes the guests on trails that they want to ride.

    I’d agree – but if she’s just one person in a group, then does the guide disappoint the majority of others in the van to accommodate her?

    A replacement guide would have been the right thing to do – dunno how practical that would have been.

    monkfish
    Member

    We found there was more chance of finding rocking horse shit than a spare set of keys for the garage, waiting around to be let in became routine. .

    Pretty much agree with the review and the comments re Jo

    Frankers
    Member

    Surely it would be too expensive to provide an individual guide for the other rider, maybe the plan was for Jo to ride with her. Obviously didn’t happen if she wasn’t there.

    If you get to read this Jo, wishing you a speedy recovery 🙂

    I’ve been twice to Molini with RB and both times we had great fun, ok maybe a little unorganised at times but didn’t care much as we were on holiday, mates and me don’t really need everything to be structured……. Just booze & bikes and we’re happy

    Surely it would be too expensive to provide an individual guide for the other rider, maybe the plan was for Jo to ride with her. Obviously didn’t happen if she wasn’t there.

    True, but these hollidays usually work out ~£100/day, and while the accommodation is rarely dire, it’s often not even premier inn standard, which for a coupe would be what £25/person per night? Which leaves about £70/day for food, guiding and the van, per person. I’m guessing in a group of four or five the guide isn’t paid £300/day! So for the odd day when maybe you need two guides but only have a handfull of guest’s I’d expect a company to suck it up and provide the guides needed.

    Kudos to Switchbacks on that, I’ve been on days out where it’s just been me, Dave guiding and Luki driving the van. Was good fun too riding some longer (but more tame) downhills that weren’t feasible in groups as DHers apparently object to having to stop and cary bikes through fallen trees mid run 🙂

    but the snails were a mistake

    No man! The first time I’ve tried snails and I managed a plateful. Awesome. Just don’t look too hard.

    Alpin. The molini trails are not mapped afaik. Ady developed most of it with his guides by linking lots of old forester trails with hand built links and features. If you’ve been once guided you know roughly where to find the main trails. But when I go again, sadly not this year, it will be with Ady and Jo.

    The day at Andora was ace -a bit easier gradient but you just go faster!

    mtbtomo
    Member

    Thisisnotaspoon – just for balance, I’ve been with Switchbacks too, and had the opposite – 12 people to one guide and one of the returning guests doing the job of a second guide riding at the back to sweep up. It was a good few years ago now though, so it may have changed. Actually thinking about it, it was a similar reason – Mike was recovering from pneumonia and working his way back to guiding day in day out.

    Companies like RB don’t have a cupboard full of bike guides just waiting there for them to plug the batteries in as the guests arrive 😉 Its a small set up – when we’ve been its been Ady, Jo and a couple of others. In a small rural village like Molini finding an extra guide with the required guiding skills (as well as just knowing the trails) at short notice would probably prove quite difficult.

    TrailAddiction is the only place I’ve been where there have been 5 or 6 guides plus.

    Premier Icon StefMcDef
    Subscriber

    I’m out there for a holiday the second week in June. #prayforjo 😥

    For anyone who’s done a week with both Switchbacks and Rivierabike, for their All-mountain type weeks, how would you say the riding compares? JonEdwards’ write-up makes it sound just the wrong side of sketchy for me. Don’t mind the odd bit of gnar but don’t want a week of 100% white-knuckle terror. Switchbacks pretty much nailed it last summer when I was out there with them in Bubion.

    Premier Icon Nobeerinthefridge
    Subscriber

    Steff, one of my riding buddies has ridden both, and reckons Switchbacks was tougher, although he was there on his tod riding with Mike and 5 french semi-pro Downhillers.

    And I suppose thats the crux of it really, These holidays are made or broken by factors like other riders, and things like Jo’s unfortunate illness.

    Premier Icon StefMcDef
    Subscriber

    ^ Cheers, NoBeers. I’ll be going out with the same bunch of week-in, week-out riding buddies I went out to Switchbacks with, so hopefully not a massive skillz gap. Thing is, they all like descending and climbs usually offer me the only chance to ride at the front – hope it’s not all completely van-assisted winch’n’drop either.

    It’s about 80 percent white knuckle and take some spare pads ‘cos you won’t be off the brakes much. I’m out there in a few weeks and I’m getting a bit nervous already. I love it though, it ups your game so much.
    Sorry to hear Jo’s out of action. True, RF are laid back but that’s all part of the dolce vita thing. Soon as there’s a real problem It’s sorted out and Ade and Jo will go an extra 10 miles for you. But make sure your bike is sorted and capable before you go. You won’t get much sympathy from anyone if your ride keeps falling apart.

    doubledunter
    Member

    I’m out there for a holiday the second week in June. #prayforjo

    For anyone who’s done a week with both Switchbacks and Rivierabike, for their All-mountain type weeks, how would you say the riding compares? JonEdwards’ write-up makes it sound just the wrong side of sketchy for me. Don’t mind the odd bit of gnar but don’t want a week of 100% white-knuckle terror. Switchbacks pretty much nailed it last summer when I was out there with them in Bubion.

    Im out in couple of weeks with RB, report is basically what I been told from someone thats been already been, heres hoping Jo’s back then 😕

    Premier Icon StefMcDef
    Subscriber

    But make sure your bike is sorted and capable before you go. You won’t get much sympathy from anyone if your ride keeps falling apart.

    I’m hiring a bike out there – a Nukeproof Mega? Certainly newer and hopefully better than the one I would be bringing myself. So if anything not involving catastrophic pilot error goes wrong with it, it’ll be getting handed over to the guides to sort out. I’m travelling back independently from the rest of my group so it would’ve been a logistical nightmare to be travelling solo on public transport with a bike bag.

    Premier Icon goslow
    Subscriber

    I’ve been to both Riviera Bike (twice) & Switchbacks. I loved Riviera and will happily go back when I can. The trails and hotel are great. The last time I was there there was a guiding issue but Jo bent over backwards to help us.
    With Switchbacks – riding was great, but accommodation was poor. Big guiding issues, sometimes 1 guide to close on 20 riders. No intention to go back especially when Ciclo Montana is way, way better and uses similar trails.

    Pimpy you can also buy into organised rides?

    In what context? Riviera Bike or generally?

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