We recently visited Lucca in Tuscany for the Pas Normal Studios summit. The idea was to bring together some of the retailers, brand ambassadors, photographers, and friends of the brand together with the owners, designers and creators to ride, talk, eat, drink and be merry. Forging friendships around the world and creating new lines of communication with the aim of creating a truly International Cycling Club.
The climb up to the Summit HQ, switchbacks through fragrant olive groves.
The weather was poor on the afternoon we arrived but the view
from the hotel windows gave us a tantalising glimpse of the riding
on offer: rolling hills, switchbacks and mountains in some of the
most beautiful scenery I've ever seen, dotted with vineyards,
hilltop villages and ancient churches.
The evening dinner in the PNS basecamp was a spectacular way to meet everyone in attendance, with a four course meal prepared in house.
Throwing shapes and warming up for the ride outside HQ.
The next morning we met for a ride to the coast, descending from the villa to the valley floor for a gentle climb heading to a descent to the coast, followed by a lovely climb that gifted us stunning panoramic views of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the surrounding hills. It was clear from the riding that there is an extraordinary cycling culture within the Pas Normal Studios family. Every single person was a very strong rider, with some of them being truly exceptional. The dinner that night was more of a recovery affair, with another fantastic meal providing the perfect backdrop for everyone getting to know each other better.
Stunning views provided an excuse to recover from the brutal pace.
The following day saw two groups head out. Brian Nygaard, comms director for Orica, lead out the first group, which mainly consisted of ambassadors and PNS staff, taking in "one very hard climb and one very, very hard climb". Not wishing to delay the progress of the truly hardcore crew assembled, we decided it would be best to take the cafe ride option. This took in some incredible local climbs, summiting after some punchy gradients only to be among traditional rural Tuscan life: an old basilica, locals returning from hunting in the hills and a busy restaurant with families making the most of the autumnal sunshine in their Sunday best. Wet descents kept us on our toes as we made our way back to the house through incredible scenery and more climbing on single track roads surrounded by vineyards. Truly a spectacular place to ride a bike.
A brief stop among the vineyards.
That night we saw prototypes for Pas Normal Studios 2017, which exceeded our expectations with new fabrics, yet further pro-informed refinements and some incredible new designs. Really looking forward to receiving these in the months ahead.
The leg sapping gradients are just out of shot. Tuscany is astounding.
Talking of kit, seeing how hard the Pas Normal Studios creators, designers and ambassadors ride it is no wonder that we've found their kit to be some of the best we've ever ridden in, with fit and performance both being truly exceptional. All this before taking into account their fresh take on design and the overall aesthetic. Be it the fit of the bibs, the choice of colours or their choice of regional wine, this Danish collective instinctively know how to get it right.
Pre-breakfast climbing among the olives.
Leaving on the Monday, some of us couldn't resist just one more
ride and we set out soon after sunrise to take in some more local
roads before breakfast. Italian rush hour was clearly underway on
the main road at the foot of the hill, but turning off we were soon
back among single track roads winding through fields and olive
groves before some punishing gradients took us to the now
not-unexpected vistas and rewarding descents.
Breakfast never tasted so good.
So we left our new friends, hailing from Scandinavia, Japan, France, the US, and came home inspired by what we'd seen, the people we met, the riding we'd done together. Pas Normal Studios truly know how to do things right.
Thanks to Pas Normal Studios. You can see our edit of their Autumn Collection at Bespoke Cycling Gresham Street and HERE.
For more stunning images check out their Instagram.