Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Riding With Ellen From San Diego

Today was my first time working with a potential client for Best Tuscan Tours. Much to my surprise, the potential client turned out to be a lady cyclist from San Diego who knows many of the same people that I know in the southern California cycling community. She even knows my good friend Susan from San Clemente. In fact, Ellen was a mentor for Robert Panzara's Death Ride last year, and my girlfriend Susan has just accepted the same job for next year. Ellen and I hit it off from the start.

Ellen, who belongs to the well-known Cyclovets in San Diego, is a professor at San Diego City Community College. She's on an expedition here scouting out the territory for a large student tour that she and her colleague Candice are planning for next summer. The theme of their tour is "art and cycling in Italy". They will be selling this tour to the art, student and cycling community in Southern California and they hope to recruit at least 15 participants for a multi-dimensional tour that will take in the best of Italian art and cycling in Tuscany.

Being the biggest and best cycle touring company in Tuscany, it was only natural that she would have hooked up with our company. So, I will be working for Ellen and Candice, helping them to design parts of the tour which will fulfill some of their particular desires related to cycling, visits to bike factories and cycling museums, on -road guides and support and perhaps even accomodations, transportation, wine tastings and cooking lessons to round out their tour. So I spent a good part of our ride understanding her requirements, giving her some ideas, and telling her what we could do to round out her program to customize her tour to make it a smashing success.

So, I met Ellen this morning at Piazza della Repubblica, and I took her for a ride to Impruneta and Greve-in-Chianti. We spent most of the time talking about her visions of the tour she wants to develop, and I think we will be able to custom design several days of cycling and van support at the very least.

We then passed by her hotel and I met her colleague, Candice, who is a fascinating woman who is a graphic arts designer who also teaches at SDCC. We shared a lively discussion at lunch. They were equally fascinated by the story of how I ended up living in Florence and getting my Italian Citizenship and after lunch I took them to see my apartment, and then brought them to Santa Croce where we said goodbye.

The next step is that Ellen will write out a list of their requirements for my review and I will develop a proposal for her to review.