MATERA TO PUGLIA RIDE

What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Visiting the caves (sassi) in Matera, cycling through the countryside around Alberobello with fields of red poppies surrounding white trullis and groves of olive trees, the coast ride north of Leuca

What did you think of your group leader?

Michele is a really great guide: tireless and always cheerful, he couldn't do enough for us and even went to the trouble of preparing a local dish himself for our lunch at a bar on the beach on the last day. He knew the best places for views along the route and performed a dive from the cliffs into the sea - very impressive! He was also very flexible so we were able to stop at a beach and swim one very hot afternoon instead of continuing to ride. You can't go to Puglia and not try the local foods and he always had recommendations for us. Thanks to his thoughtfulness settling individual bills after meals was also very simple and quick. If anyone didn't want to carry on riding he and the driver Antonio were always ready to load the bike on the roof and never made anyone feel they were being difficult.

Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

The bikes are good touring bikes with computer, pannier and a bag with map holder for the handlebars so no need to bring bike backpacks etc. Exodus also provided waterbottles. Bring padded shorts - the roads can be bumpy:-) Try to stay an extra night in Matera at the start - it is well worth it. I also stayed an exta night in Lecce and took the train back to Bari for just €18. You need good sun protection!

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I'd wanted to visit this area for a while and it certainly lived up to my expectations. Cycling was really enjoyable - with the long winter here some of us were concerned about stamina for the long first day but it was all doable. The most uphill stretches were on day 5 but none were too hard and Italian car drivers are much more considerate of cyclists than British ones.